Hi! My name is Azure. I want to pay it forward and share a few things I’ve learned about living with OCD. This is Part Two of my guest blog post: Breaking Free from OCD’s Chokehold.
Don’t Try to Fix the Anxiety
Lately, I’ve been telling myself to live each day as if I were a normal person, haha, but seriously, one of the things my OCD therapist has told me is to ask myself what a reasonable person would do in a given situation, or how many people out of 100 would be sharing my current worry.
Because I’m under stress, I have to remember to be stronger than usual by letting the anxiety wash over me and resisting those compulsions.
Another helpful thing to do is reach out to others. I’m trying to think of people besides myself and share any mental health pointers I can with them.
Be Willing to Find Out What Happens Next
So maybe you’ve read Part One and Part Two of this blog post, and you think, “she sounds like she’s all good now.” I know, I never like it when personal experiences are too clean, too tied-up-with-a-bow. ‘Things were bad but I’ve found my happily ever after!’ doesn’t ring true for me. It’s the stuff of fairy tales.
So, will I just keep improving from here on out? I don’t know. I write all these words now, but tomorrow I may be down another anxiety spiral. I sure hope not, but I have to accept that uncertainty—and that doesn’t mean I have to fear it. “Let everything happen to you.” Because even if I land in a bad place tomorrow, that is not my final destination. Ups and downs. Downs and ups.
I don’t want to end this blog post without a couple thoughts on the current, highly unusual time we’re in. Everyone in the world is grieving something, even though it’s something different for each of us.
I’ve Trained For This Moment
Obviously, this is a hard time for OCD sufferers. If you have a lot of experience tackling OCD and you’ve been faced with this sudden change in your routine, OCD might get innovative like it did with me. It’s something to watch for. But Tammy has referred to OCD as a strangely-wrapped present for a reason. What opportunities does having OCD give you?
What do I mean by opportunities? Well, I might react to the news more sensitively than people who don’t have anxiety, yes. However, I might be better able to deal with it than people who’ve never had to learn coping skills. Interestingly, there are quite a number of people who have reported a decrease in their anxiety and depression, because of this new sense of solidarity with the outside world.
For the first time, everyone’s getting a taste of what it feels like to be scared and isolated. For those of us already with anxiety, the current state of fear doesn’t feel novel to us. In fact, we may be skilled in having an inner world to escape to and may already have calming, solitary activities we enjoy while others are trying to find theirs.
I hope you feel empowered— not that your OCD is a ‘superpower,’ but that the mental strength you have in dealing with OCD has given you an edge. You have something to offer to people experiencing uncertainty for the first time.
My Go-To Coping Skills
Here’s a method I like to use when COVID-19 worries or other anxieties hit:
- Identify what you’re feeling, breathe and centre yourself.
- See if there’s just one thing you can do that will help. For example, if you’re dealing with uncertainty, make space for being okay with not knowing. It’s okay not to know or have all the answers. I don’t know what the future holds, I’m scared—and that’s okay. There’s a space for that.
- If you are overwhelmed, what can you be in control of right now? Doesn’t have to be anything fancy. (Example, I can control how my nails look so I like to self-manicure.) If you’re feeling lost, what’s one thing you can do right now? A definite action, like cooking something.
- If the day is sad, what’s one thing within it that brought you some joy? I try to look for that moment every day. A new song I like, or noticing that the daffodils have just come up. Things that make you laugh are always a plus!
- Remember to take extra good care of yourself. We’re all just doing our best.
In conclusion, I am on this journey with you. OCD has hurt me. But in facing it, I’m developing valuable life skills. Patience. Resilience. Endurance. So keep going.
Keep going and The End will have new meaning. It will mean The End of a particular obsession. The End of a painful feeling you’ve been holding on to for too long. And if you look at it long enough, you may see a different pair of words start to emerge.