ACT – Acceptance and Commitment Therapy

I was absolutely terrified to begin therapy. O man, was I pulling out every excuse in the book to avoid it. I thought it wouldn’t work, that CBT would be painful with short term results, and that the fear of exploring my mind would be too intense.

In an effort to avoid therapy, and still get some help, I talked to a school counselor about some tricks she might have in terms of coping with stress. I explained about my OCD and she told me simple stress reduction exercises weren’t going to help me and she recommended I try exposure therapy. I told her I saw “Obsessed” on TV and there was no way I was going through that. She responded:

“I think it’s great that there is awareness being brought to OCD, but the shows on TV are so extreme.  The exposures they do are intense and much of the time irresponsible.  In real life therapy situations, things go much slower.  The problem with shows like that is that they make people afraid to seek treatment.”

Over the next few weeks, I decided I was ready and thus began my search for a therapist.  My first therapist was a horrendous bitch and I didn’t give her more than one session.  I found a new one who is compassionate, trustworthy and whom I have good chemistry.

I have been in therapy now for nearly four months. I think it’s helping a lot. I have noticed some pretty cool changes, but I’m not gonna lie; it’s difficult. I have experienced some painful situations, opening doors to my mind I never wanted to, but I am becoming a stronger and happier person.

The therapy I am doing is called “ACT”, short for “Acceptance and Commitment Therapy”. It is similar to CBT in that it incorporates exposures, but the main difference is that instead of trying to control or fight thoughts like in CBT, ACT promotes accepting the thoughts as merely thoughts.  ACT also focuses on helping the individual discover his/her core values and goals about life and ways to take action in achieving those.

I don’t take SSRIs.  The rate of them being effective is pretty low, while the risk of developing side effects is pretty high.  I think it’s awesome that some people have found them to be helpful, but they aren’t right for me.

I know many of us wish there was a pill that cured OCD, that had no side effects and didn’t lose potency or trigger dependency over time.  The truth is that there really aren’t many medications in life that are like that.

Therapy is like exercise.  Everyone wants a magic diet pill, or a 10 minute workout, but the answer is and always will simply be that you gotta do the work.  Yes, it will hurt, but the journey can show you how strong you never thought you could be.

Therapy is a great option and the success rate is impressive.  Maybe give it a shot when you’re ready.

I still have a long way to go, and I will no doubt stumble along the way, but my happiness is worth fighting for and so is yours.

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