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
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 f..ing 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.