Guest Post – The Do’s and Don’ts in OCD recovery

I am very happy to welcome a brilliantly written guest post from David. This post was written about the various things that have helped (and hindered) David’s own journey towards trying to overcome OCD. These are all things that have benefited him, if they don’t work for you please don’t lose heart but I hope that you will find some things in here that you can try or that you will find helpful. Please also feel free to comment on the things that you have found most helpful in your own experience 🙂

If you would like to seek him on twitter then please do so: @DaveJPosti

The Do’s and Don’ts for recovery from OCD

I’ve put together a list of my own OCD Do’s and Dont’s, though of course much of what I mention is also applicable to other types of anxiety disorders/depression. I should stress that they are only my opinion of what can help/hinder – I fully understand that everyone is different and that what works for one person doesn’t for someone else. OK here goes, hope it helps anyone happening to read it, and in no particular order……

DO’S

Get help as soon as you think something isn’t right – OCD is common, nothing to feel ashamed about and can be treated very successfully. Hoping it will go away or improve by itself is very unlikely to work though.

Meditate and do Yoga Nidra – they will help you relax, which will reduce the hold that OCD has on you. This is one of the best things you could do for yourself, regardless of whether you have OCD or not.

Expect setbacks – Your recovery from OCD will most likely not be linear. There will be days of great progress and days of deflation. Knowing this in advance will help give you the strength to overcome these setbacks.

Eat well – Putting lots of junk food into you will most probably result in more junk OCD thoughts. Eat well, fruit and veg, for the benefit of your mental and physical health.

Talk with people you can trust – Sometimes you just need to get these thoughts out into the open by talking about your OCD with a trusted friend or relative. You are strong not weak for doing this. You know that deep down. If you can’t talk with friends or relatives call the Samaritans or OCD UK/ OCD Action. They are lovely people. You will not be judged.

Consider if there is something in your emotional life that you aren’t doing that deep down you know you should be – Consider whether facing it down will ultimately help you in your battle. You will know the answer.

Try to be mindful about your OCD – Say to yourself that you notice that you are having xyz obsessive thought and rate your anxiety out of 10 to yourself. This technique will help you distance yourself from your OCD without trying to push it away.

Take your sleep seriously – OCD hates well rested people. Make it your mission to get into a regular sleep pattern and protect your rest periods.

Help others – Helping others helps you to take yourself out of your endless rumination. Your focus is external and OCD loses power in these circumstances.

Get angry with your OCD – When your OCD tells you that you can’t do something, stand up to the bully that it is and politely tell it to go forth and multiply, as you are going to do what you plan to do regardless.

Exercise regularly – I like to think of exercise as being a WMOCDD – weapon of mass OCD destruction. OCD HATES exercise – even better is exercise that engages your brain e.g kickboxing. Exercise has helped me get through terrible periods when I was totally lost in my OCD. It can do the same for you.

Make a crisis plan – You will have crisis moments. At these times you won’t be able to think clearly. Therefore it makes sense to write down and keep with you a list of practical things you can do to get you through the otherwise.

Expose yourself to your fears regularly – It is the only way to truly overcome OCD, despite how painful it will be for you.

Forgive yourself – You are dealing with an illness that most people simply cannot comprehend in terms of how devastating it is. You may feel weak but in fact you are incredibly strong. You do what you need to do despite how desperate you feel. That makes you heroic. When things don’t go so well, have compassion for yourself and remind yourself of the above. Being angry with yourself is like pouring petrol on a fire. Not recommended.

Consider the levels of stress you are under – OCD LOVES stressed people. If you can take practical steps to lower your levels of external stress you will be doing yourself a huge favour.

Ask pertinent questions of potential OCD therapists – Therapy can be very helpful. But you don’t want to go through 5 therapists before you find one who is an expert in treating OCD. Use OCD UK/OCD Action for advice on selecting an appropriate therapist. They are not all the same and you deserve expert care.

Practice gratitude for the positives in your life – There will be some, focusing on them and being thankful will probably shift your mindset in a more positive direction.

Understand that avoidance only worsens OCD – To overcome OCD you will need to regularly put yourself in positions that are very uncomfortable or worse. You know this deep down. But it is the route to peace of mind.

DONT’S

Drink alcohol to excess, or preferably not all – Being drunk may give temporary relief from your obsessive thoughts. But they will return twice as vicious the next morning. Alcohol is a false weapon against OCD.

Google possible side effects for OCD meds – This is a surefire way to terrify yourself. I have taken 5/6 OCD meds without experiencing major side effects. If you do have problems of course visit your GO but don’t pile more potential unknowns into your already bursting in tray of worries.

Expect miracles – You may be fortunate in that you make a quick and full recovery. But if things take a little longer, stick with it. OCD loves impatience and withers in the presence of calm resolve.

Seek reassurance – You will feel an overwhelming temptation to seek reassurance that your OCD fear(s) are not true. This is a major trap to avoid and only worsens OCD. You may need to learn this the hard way in the beginning but the sooner you can drop reassurance seeking the better.

Attempt to out analyse/ out logic OCD – This is a battle you cannot win. I know, I’ve tried. OCD will ALWAYS have the last word with another creeping ‘what if’ thought. Accept and observe yourself engaging in this compulsion, and gradually you will weaken it.

Forget that when you overcome OCD you will have so much insight and capacity for joy in even the simplest parts of life – It may not feel like it right now, but what has been temporarily taken from you will be permanently returned to you in new, precious ways you can’t imagine right now.

Give up HOPE – If you feel you’re running out, have some from this blog post to get you through the storm. Millions of people recover from OCD and you will to.

Think you’re alone – You’re not. Many people who you walk past on the street will have OCD. It’s common. Connect with people who can truly empathise and support and you’ll find more energy to do what you need to do.

Worry – This is the end of OCD (War and Peace). Put the kettle on and have a well deserved break and a cup of tea!

Good luck!

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