Are You White-Knuckling Your Way Through OCD?

ERP With a Clenched Jaw and White Knuckles

I’m on a mission to help you live well with OCD. And, I’ve got more than one idea of how to make it happen. In a series of posts over the next few weeks, I’ll share a variety of ways for you to manage OCD.

First, let me say that my clinical experience to date indicates there’s more to living with OCD than just white-knuckling your way through life.

A person with OCD often wishes out loud, “If only I could just trust myself again.” An Exposure & Response Prevention(ERP) therapist, such as myself, might say, “Well, OCD isn’t going to let you trust yourself. You have the doubting disease. There are things you will never know for sure.”

So, we discuss what must be done despite lacking faith in oneself. Employing ERP is at the top of the to-do list: Gradually confront what you avoid and do nothing to neutralize the anxiety. Endure the discomfort and resist compulsions. Accept the doubt.

And you know what? People with OCD can do it: They can go about their day, lacking confidence, having no sense of certainty or ease of mind. They are the least assured person walking the face of the earth, and yet people with OCD can accomplish anything. Anything. At. All. Including confronting their fears with little to no trust in who they are or what will happen.

But…is there more than tightening the jaw and fist, and pushing through the pain?

Does It Have To Be This Awful?

Exposure & Response Prevention continues to be the most widely regarded treatment for OCD. If I could wave a magic wand, every
client would use ERP to manage their OCD.

But, here’s a question: For those who do awful exposures, OCD Treatmentshould we say, “Congratulations! You forced yourself through that horrible exposure and tolerated all that discomfort! Good for you!”

White-Knuckling

Instinctively, these are the faces people make as they deal with obsessional thoughts and exposures:

ERP

People with OCD can white-knuckle their way through one trigger after another. But is that all there is? 

Is it enough to white-knuckle your way through triggers? Is there more to it than saying, “Whew, thank God that’s over with. I hope I never have to deal with that again.” Is it possible to feel better about going head-to-head with OCD?

YES!!! There’s more to ERP than forcing yourself to face your fears. Not only is there more to ERP, but there’s also more than ERP.

Come back soon for the next post!

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