How Do You Accept OCD When it Causes So Much Pain?

Before we answer the question of how to accept OCD, let’s count the many ways that OCD can cause pain.

Thought Action Fusion

The OCD brain has trouble differentiating between being in a fearful situation or just thinking about a fearful situation. There’s a big difference but if you have OCD it all feels the same.

OCD is a disorder that causes the brain to malfunction. One of thepablo-124 ways it malfunctions is that the brain can’t tell the difference between a thought and an action. A thought feels just like an action. In cognitive therapy, this is called “thought action fusion.” The brain fuses a thought and an action into the same thing. Thinking about doing something is the same as carrying out an action.  

This malfunctioning causes enormous pain and it’s rooted in the imagination. 

Distressing Upsetting Thoughts

OCD attacks what’s precious and sacred. It tells you the opposite of what’s true. Whatever you treasure and honor, OCD will try to make you doubt your morality and sincerity.

You love your child so much but OCD tells you that you want to hurt your child.  It tells you that you might go crazy and lose control. You might make a mistake and cause harm. It tells you that you’re inadequate and never good enough. 

Thoughts aren’t true and feelings aren’t facts. But, OCD doesn’t know that. OCD is a disorder that makes you overvalue thoughts and feelings. “Actions speak louder than words” has no meaning in the world of OCD.pablo-125

This is just another way the OCD brain malfunctions. It can’t tell what matters most.  It’s a disorder of very narrow minded thinking with one goal in mind: certainty. Since certainty can never be obtained it causes endless suffering and loss.

Compulsions

A person with OCD will try to offset the associated anxiety through ritualistic, repetitive behaviors. Clients will say they are doing compulsions to prevent harm, but that’s just OCD trickery. The real reason a person with OCD performs compulsions is to relieve anxiety. 

pablo-126OCD is a disorder that tricks you into magical thinking. Magic is and always has been nothing more than an illusion. But OCD can make it seem so real. An OCD thriver told me: “The Land of Compulsions is Fool’s Paradise.”

There is no true value in performing a compulsion. All it’s doing is giving you temporary relief and making you a junkie. Any minute you will have to perform another compulsion.  Your brain will not recover by living in Fool’s Paradise. You keep hoping for it to be different but it never is.

All that is gained from compulsions is a sense of hopelessness. Hopelessness is incredibly hurtful to your spirit and ability to rise up and challenge OCD. 

Overestimation of Threat

OCD is a faulty alarm system. The brain malfunctions and tells you there is danger when there isn’t. It gets you stuck worrying about something happening in the future. Meanwhile, in the present moment, you’re actually pretty okay. 

But, OCD has a way of distracting you from the present and keeps you living in what if land. Nothing has actually happened but you’re feeling guilty. Depressed. Yet, in this moment, right now you’re actually pretty okay.

pablo-127There are so many beautiful parts to your brain but the only part that seems to be awake is the alarm system. It’s telling you there’s a catastrophe and everything is tainted. You’re on your knees in tears. 

OCD is a disorder that overestimates threat. Even though there’s actually nothing wrong, it feels like everything is wrong.

It’s very painful to think your world is falling apart when it isn’t. You know it isn’t but you can’t seem to get out of what if land. It’s agonizing. 

These are just a few ways that OCD causes suffering. So now we must answer the question: How do you accept OCD when it causes so much pain? 

I turn to you to “make a way out of no way.” How do you accept OCD? Please leave your comment which will be posted anonymously.

20 thoughts on “How Do You Accept OCD When it Causes So Much Pain?”

  1. I accept it by shrugging it off, when I can. I’ve been in tears because of it and you are correct – I was in search of certainty, fact, binary outputs. This post is another great, prolific piece which I found very helpful.

    1. Sometimes labeling it as just OCD feeds OCD. I bet there’s someone out there that can offer their own experience with this one.

  2. Awesome post Tammy!
    I think I accept OCD because I’ve learned the hard way that it’s the only way to have relief. Resistance brings pain but acceptance, no matter how hard it is initially, eventually brings relief. It also helps to think of the benefits of having OCD. For example, people with OCD are more compassionate, empathetic, and detail-oriented.

  3. Hmm… I believe that I forget that OCD is the real reason I struggle and get stuck. In the busyness of life it’s helpful for me to remember that I do have OCD and what exactly that means so I don’t take my obsessive thoughts seriously… That “thought-action” fusion is what is actually going on and whatever I am worrying about no matter how important it FEELS is probably less than half as big of a deal as I am making it out to be in my head…. When I remember that all my intense struggling with anxiety is OCD and therefore a skewed perspective, that helps me to accept it.

  4. “Houston, we’ve had a problem here.” – John Swigert, April 13, 1970. On April 11th, 1970, Apollo 13 took off from Earth, headed to the moon. On April 13, as Mr. Swigert said, there was a problem. There was no way to land on the moon, and seemingly no way to get the astronauts back home … until there was. NASA figured out that they could use the gravity of the moon as a slingshot: instead of landing on the moon, the module went around it and used its gravity to send them back to Earth. Apollo 13 was known as a “successful failure.”

    What does this have to do with OCD? Like gravity, obsessions are not going to go away through fighting – you may as well try to fight gravity as fight obsessions. I can jump up and down again and again and all I’m going to get is tired. I accept OCD because the opposite of accept is to deny or reject. I can reject or deny gravity, but that will not work out well for me. I can accept my obsessions, just as I accept gravity, and things will go much more smoothly. Performing a compulsion is attempting to fight my obsessions, and that just leads to O C D. However, much like NASA used gravity to get the astronauts home, I can use my OCD. Obsessions mean I have a wild imagination and an imagination is a terrible thing to waste! I can also look at dealing with my OCD as developing a mental skill – a skill that I take with me everywhere I go. Obsessions aren’t all bad because it shows that we have creative minds. Once we’re able to use our creative minds in the right way, we can make obsessions work for us, like NASA made gravity work for them. Basically, I accept OCD because it is fruitless to deny or reject it. Acceptance is the only option that can lead to a positive outcome.

  5. You once told me we all have 99 problems, take one away and another will take its place. On particularly hard days, I remind myself of that and look for the hidden blessings. Learning not to be a victim of what life has handed me has helped me tremendously with acceptance of the bad days and makes the good days and moments all that much more meaningful.

    1. You sure don’t have to look far to find your blessing. You’ve got two miracles smiling right at you!

  6. Over the years I’ve tried to find certainty; I’ve tried to find some kind of relief for my anxiety. I tried analyzing, I tried doing the compulsions that my “master” tells me to do. In the end, all I can do is accept the beatings. I’ve accepted that I will never find happiness or certainty in this life; my master will always be standing there in the back of my head, tearing my reality to pieces when I’m just trying to live my life. If I obey him, he just orders me around even more. If I don’t obey him, he beats me. It’s just life with OCD. My one consolation is that the human body isn’t built to be inundated with crippling anxiety on a daily basis. One day my master will get tired of me breaking his orders. He will unleash the full brunt of anxiety on me, he will make me doubt my existence and my reality, he will make me so afraid that I will be wishing for an end to the agony. But still I will not relent. Even if he terrorizes me, even if he takes away my life, even if he breaks every bone in my body, I will not relent. I have been chosen to fight this battle. I am a warrior.

    1. First I want to say that you have a beautiful, expressive way with your words. If people knew how young you are they’d be amazed. You are an author waiting to break free. As far as your struggle goes you’ve made great strides. As difficult as it is to boss it back, you’re right you’re a warrior and relentless. Happiness is just around the corner. That’s hard to believe at times I know. But just because you think it doesn’t make it true. Keep fighting with all your might.

      1. Wow! I can tell you are struggling but you will win this battle because of your determination and positive attitude. With hard work and patience, you WILL begin to feel relief eventually. But that’s not what you’re fighting for, you’re fighting to master OCD management and radical acceptance. The relief is just the side effect of that.

    2. For the Warrior in you and in all of us….

      OCD: “You can’t withstand the storm.”

      You: “I AM the storm.”

    3. You have a great ability to put into words the darkness, and pain that OCD brings. The often indescribable feeling. I have felt the pain you are in, it feels never ending, but it isn’t. You are far stronger then OCD. Keep fighting, relief is coming. So many times I believed it wasn’t, and then I began to notice moments, even seconds of relief. Keep pushing!

    4. I love how you captured the nature of OCD as a “master”. It really does feel like that I know… I am inspired by your determination. I really believe it’s determination that gets victory. You ARE a warrior and you’re definitely on the RIGHT track. I also think that there are no small victories when it comes to overcoming OCD. Any improvement and any moment of relief is worth celebrating. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  7. I really like the concept of “Thought-Action Fusion.” For me, it more accurately describes what happens and is much more empowering than “worrying about the future.” This helps me accept OCD. The “worrying” description implies (to me) that the person with OCD is weak and can’t do anything about it. There is always something you can do about it… Even if it’s getting back on track sooner than the last time OCD tricked you. Thanks so much for sharing this!

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