Advice for Parents

Advice for parents who have children with OCD

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Why stay in therapy – Peeling back the layers

I haven’t written in so long due to fear.  But fear aside, I’m ready to share the truth.

My OCD is all but alleviated.  I am reminded rarely, but abruptly every so often when I have an “OCD” moment at how life used to be.  I am shocked by these occurrences at how I used to feel every day for years.  It’s easy to forget the mental torture, because really, why would I want to remember?  But, I do in some ways because I’ll never really fit in completely, and I need to know why.  However, I am in the best place I can be for the next part of my life which is to help other people get better and finally become friends with their bullying minds.

On to the fear part of this.  After the OCD was taken out of my brain, there was a shadow of where it was, and my sense of self was shaken.  I self-harmed more than ever and acted out in many self-destructive ways.  I got back into therapy, wondering what the point was of peeling back these layers of my mind only to find more problems underneath.  Here is why I keep going:

  • Whatever issues I currently face, I am more equipped to handle now that I have gotten over OCD
  • There will always be challenges in life
  • The problems I have at this point are not as bad as my OCD

So, while I struggle with a whole new set of cards, I would’t trade them in for my past.  As I have said before, we all have a story that will fluctuate with joys and disappointments and we must commit to not quitting and that commitment doesn’t stop no matter how tough or easy things get.  Keep writing your story, and stay strong.

How “Should” Messes Everything Up

We say “should” all the time, but rarely at the appropriate time.  “Should” indicates responsibility in usually a critical way, and with anxiety disorders and depression, this occurs a lot.

“My life shouldn’t be like this.”

This statement hurts because what it really means is that life and who I am are not ok as they are.  I know OCD doesn’t feel ok, but hear me out. It’s that “I’m wrong and that if I made a different choice or acted another way, than everything would be as it should“.  “Should” makes us feel like we messed up, and what’s worse, if we truly have no or little control, then we are beating ourselves up for a crime we didn’t commit.

When I said this, my therapist asked me how my life should be.  Through the tears, I explained how I never thought I’d be this person.  He asked when I made the choice to get OCD, and I said it wasn’t my choice, and he said “exactly.”  He explained how “Should” was a trap.  Who decides what should and should’t be?  It’s when we feel like things should be a certain way, that we fall into it.

Next time you say “should”, think if it’s really appropriate.  It hurt less to say “I want my life to be different.” because this stems from a real emotion, and begs the question, “how can I improve my emotional state?”

Language can really cause us emotional downs, and here’s another:

“I don’t deserve to be happy”

“Deserve” means you have done something worthy enough to receive something else like happiness, for example.  O no.  I’t’s impossible for a psychologist to talk me out of this one.  They always respond to with “but, everyone deserves to be happy.”  Instinctively I know this is not true.  Evil people don’t deserve happiness, while kind people do, right?  What about people who go through insane trauma; did they not deserve happiness?

In short, no, I don’t deserve to be happy, nor do I deserve to be unhappy.

Wait!

The truth is that sometimes I will feel happy and sometimes I won’t, but that doesn’t reflect who I am.  Most of us strive to be descent people and happiness is not a reward system. Happiness is an emotion that stops by sometimes, and though I feel like it’s unfair that I feel anxious more than I want, it doesn’t mean that I deserve to be unhappy and I shouldn’t believe that it does? 😉

OCD and Addiction

OCD is a monster. One that we feel we must constantly keep pacified out of fear that the next spike will be unbearable. My OCD is mostly gone, save a few bad days and irritating moments, but I kind of appreciate those moments because they never let me take for granted what I now have. The OCD is mostly in remission, but the habits I developed to deal with it are still around. In my desperate attempts to escape, I developed a problem with addiction, which is now the new monster I am fighting.

Drugs is a controversial topic and one I have been shying away from, but many of us know the unpleasant stigma of mental illness and I think the only way we can get rid of that is to speak the truth. I know there are many others out there struggling with their OCD and hiding their addictions, which is why I am also choosing to discuss this; because it is when we suffer alone that we truly suffer.

I began to treat myself before I knew I had OCD. I was not diagnosed until I was 21. In my teen years I developed an eating disorder. It had nothing to do with body image, but entirely about control and escaping my emotional discomfort. I think the most important thing a lot of people misunderstand about eating disorders like Anorexia and Bulimia is that they are anxiety disorders, not issues concerning low self-esteem.

I deprived myself of food to induce stomach aches which would distract me from my racing and obsessive thoughts. After it was getting out of hand, I started smoking weed. Every night, it put me to sleep, for years. Then, one fateful day in hte hospital, I was prescribed Ativan for my rapid heartbeat, which I explained was normal due to my anxiety. I started taking the drug every day because it made me feel “normal”, but I became dependent on it and the side effects were so awful I decided to get off of it. I did this safely.

I replaced Ativan with narcotics, sex, drinking and cutting. To me, it didn’t matter what the vice was, as long as it was something that changed how I felt. The one thing all these vices had in common was that they all altered my mental state, but lead me to a crash the following day.

I had gotten so used to escaping my feelings and running at the first sight of OCD or discomfort, I stopped feeling anything… anything bad, anything good. And trust me, the thought of feeling numb sounded pretty fucking good, but it wasn’t numb, it was just kinda down all the time. No joy, no color, no vibrance, just gloom.

Therapy has helped me tremendously to learn how to not only tolerate my emotions, but to accept them. I realized that my use of drugs and such was because I didn’t know any coping skills for feeling emotions, and feeling emotions was and still is scary.

Drugs still have a place in my life, like once in a great while when I am really anxious because of traveling or something, then I do take an anxiety pill, but other than that I am learning to deal with my emotions and such without self medicating.

The complication for me was that my need to compulse and need to use drugs or alcohol got intertwined (like when I cut) sometimes I felt like stopping, but my OCD brain felt like the number of times I cut was wrong, so I would cut more than I wanted to. It was weird to lose control doing what I started to do because I thought it gave me a sense of control.

The addiction monster and OCD monster can feel the same, but what I’ve discovered to help both is learning to accept myself and learning how to deal with emotions. I have also learned that when the need to cut or use comes up or the need to compulse comes up, I take a deep breath, remember what I learned in therapy like journaling, and most of the time I get through it, and the more times I get through it, the more I learn I can get through it.

If you struggle with addiction or OCD or both, you are not alone. Please seek help if you want it, because you can get through both if you want to. Stay strong.