I didn’t feel like I needed therapy for my OCD. I didn’t want to come to group therapy because I really wasn’t that bad. I was functioning, not well, not all the time, but I functioned. I didn’t do all the classic things you saw on television that characters with OCD did: I didn’t count things repetitively or wash my hands constantly, therefore, I did not need therapy.
I wanted therapy though. But since I thought I wasn’t that bad, I didn’t deserve to go to Group, which were for people who needed serious help. If I was there, I was taking something away from the people who really needed help. I wasn’t even sure I had OCD, but I knew what I was going through in life was too much for me to handle. I felt like I wasted years of my life in fear and apathy. I was nowhere near where I wanted to be in life and looking to my peers, I knew I was behind and in for a wicked learning curve. But I functioned. I was fine. One day, my “being okay” was going to get away from me though.
Think about things this way: sometimes in life, you get a cold. Sometimes, you get cancer. Let’s say you’re going about your life like routine, but everyday you feel a little worst. You think, “It’s just a cold, I’ll drink some soup and it will go away on its own.” Sometimes this works. This time, it does not. Your cold gets worst and worst and you feel awful. You go to the doctor and get prescribed antibiotics. In a few weeks you’re fine. Easy right?
Shouldn’t mental healthcare be this easy? If you feel something small like a cold coming on, shouldn’t the decision to get a check up for your brain be just as easy as getting a check up for your body? Did you feel guilty going to the doctor for antibiotics? Did you feel shame telling people you had a cold? Why then, do we convince ourselves that mental health problems are something we can power through on our own, or something we have to hide?
The first time I went to group therapy with OCD Canada, everyone was really kind. They didn’t judge me for being there, even though I said I did not know if I had OCD. They respected the fact that I wanted help. I learned that OCD wasn’t just the stuff I saw on television. OCD is not just obsessive-compulsive actions, but also obsessive compulsive thoughts. Group was a place where I could talk about my problems and everyone got it. They have OCD too. Listening to others about their life struggles helped me so much too because I felt like I wasn’t alone. My problems weren’t weird or insurmountable. I had a group of people right in front of me who were going through similar stuff.
Getting help wasn’t easy. Deciding to get help wasn’t easy. For so many different reasons I did not allow myself to reach out for help. What helped me take that plunge was this question:
If you think you can fix your problems yourself, how has that been working out for you for the past couple years?
The answer: Not fucking well.
It’s okay to ask someone how to help yourself. I did not know how to fix myself. It was not something I already knew, it was something I had to be taught. This is not a failure in myself, just a lack of knowledge that can be rectified with education and practice.
Personally, I feel a lot better. I’m still in therapy with OCD Canada and have a long way to go, but I’m further along today than I was when I started. I’m learning tools that I can take away with me. I will not be in therapy forever.
It’s also okay to call out any -ologists or -icians on their bullshit. There are lots of different people with unique sicknesses like there are lots of different health professionals with different educations. Not everyone is for everyone on both sides. Finding people to help you can be expensive, exhausting and dejecting but giving up will not fix the problem. Go to therapy groups and get real patients to recommend you to good doctors.
I’ve been to a lot of shit doctors who have told me some shitty things (I should eat less carbs, drink green tea, get off my internet addiction, not “high need” enough for therapy, etc.). Getting better felt so frustrating because I didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere. Moreover, that I had to justify how sick I was to get any help at all. I didn’t know what good therapy felt like because I had never had it before. Basically, ask yourself these two questions:
Do you trust the person you’re with to help you?
Do you feel like you are making progress?
If the answer is no, then find someone else. It’s not your fault if therapy didn’t work out with that one person. Do you blame yourself if the doctor prescribes you the wrong medication?
I’m very happy I found people who help me, and a community that really supports me. It’s like winning the lottery, you’re not going to win if you don’t buy a ticket.
TL;DR: THERAPY IS AWESOME.
A support person can be a parent, spouse, friend, neighbor, classmate – basically anybody you can trust and who shows interest in helping you.
In too many cases your support person/s are hesitant or even afraid to provide the proper support you need. They are afraid of saying the wrong thing or doing the wrong thing that might – at least in their minds – make your OCD worse. They can’t be blamed for feeling this way because they just don’t get it – cause they just don’t got it!
In fact, your support person/s need support.
They need to see your doctor, therapist, social worker, or whichever professional you see who truly understands your issues and can explain and tell your support person/s exactly what to do and what not to do.
Your support person/s must be comfortable and feel positive toward helping you. They need the proper direction of when to help and what to do and what to stay clear of.
Many support persons don’t tell you that they are nervous, even though they truly want to help. A good therapist will be able to sit them down and explain OCD and your particular OCD issues, and counsel them to be a solid and helpful support for you.
It is vital that the support person knows what’s what and is totally comfortable with their role in your recovery program. When everyone is on the same page you will able to feel safer, healthier, more supported, and happier.
BEWARE of credentials……. There are far too many initials that can be found next to someone’s name today. Do you really know what they all mean?
They can mean different things for different people with the same letters. For example, ‘DR’ can mean a doctor of medicine, theology, a doctorate degree in astrology and more.
A majority of medical doctors do not know how to treat OCD nor conduct CBT correctly, an OCD patient can actually leave a medical professional worse off – whether that’s a doctor, psychiatrist, psychologist, physiotherapist, hypnotist, therapist or many others that think they understand OCD. They really don’t.
They understand about chemical imbalances and the like, but do they GET IT? Unless they have OCD they don’t get it. It’s impossible. This doesn’t make them inadequate, but you need to ensure the professional you turn to for help GETS OCD!
Too many patients are afraid to leave who they are seeing. If you see someone for a long period of time and nothing has changed for the good, GET ANOTHER ONE!
Don’t be afraid to go elsewhere. It’s your health!!!!!!
And don’t be afraid to ask the person you are seeing some test questions to see if they really do understand both OCD AND YOU. So don’t be afraid of who you are seeing and just be aware as to whether they GET OCD and GET YOU!
Also….Have you ever been seen by a therapist who has OCD? There aren’t many but they do exist. Check us out at OCD Canada – We Get It Cause We Got It.
My sense of humor and what I think is funny has bitten me in the arse
hundreds of times (in the event my partner reads this) thousands of times. I’m just trying to pre-qualify that I have never been confused with, or called, the fun police.
Seriously? An OCD quiz for amusement At the end of this quiz, you are greeted with your score – a percentage followed by “OCD Sensitive”. How about 0% OCD Sensitive? 100% OCD Insensitive?
Lest anyone parrot The Donald and think I’m being politically correct and need to lighten up — then how about ramping up some hilarious online quizzes to test your breast cancer radar or childhood leukemia radar? NOTE: for amusement only – not diagnostic!
Nope, that won’t happen. Mental illness, particularly OCD with all its bizarre manifestations, is too an easy punching bag while other diseases are (thankfully) are off-limits.
Society is moving toward more compassionate norms, e.g. most folks have moved on from racial and gay jokes. This happens when there’s enough peer pressure and folks wake the eff up and realize that instead of using humor to deal with their insecurities, exercising compassion helps everyone advance. At the very least, people can show their compassion by speaking up and out to Make It Awkward!
Rather than looking at shapes and colors and giggling about how we hang picture frames – how about moving toward compassion and learning more about OCD and what it does to those who have it and those who love them? If you live near Toronto, you’ve got just that chance on Tuesday, Oct. 25th as OCD Canada kicks off our expert speaker series at Carlton / Jarvis office. If you can’t make it or don’t live anywhere near Toronto – we’ll blog all about it and do interviews and encourage posts from those who attend.
Finally, in the spirit of candor, when Rick and I launched the OCD Canada website we joked about adding a refresh button that would allow a visitor to enter a number and refresh the site that number of times (counting rituals can take over your life if you have OCD). We didn’t do it – not just because not everyone would find it funny, but because it likely would be hurtful to some.