I am Johana; this is my story of struggling with OCD.
I am a very sensitive person; I’ve been that way since childhood.
When my anxiety is triggered, it often manifests as a panic attack with physical symptoms such as nausea and shortness of breath.
But when the OCD demon comes knocking at my door, those same feelings turn into obsessive thoughts about death or illness.
I cannot remember when these obsessive thoughts started, but I remember being nine years old and washing my hands until they bled.
It didn’t matter whether I touched something that would trigger my obsession; what mattered was that every time the obsessive thoughts would kick in, I knew I had to do something or else something really bad was going to happen.
Sometimes those thoughts were more like impulses, and it felt as if my body was acting by itself. My first compulsion was to touch the floor in a certain number of steps and then go back and touch it with my elbows in a different pattern.
Sometimes I had to check the door eight times before I could leave my room, or else something terrible was going to happen.
For years, my parents took me from doctor to doctor, searching for answers, but nobody ever diagnosed me with OCD or anxiety.
The obsessive thoughts and compulsions were always there, every day of my life. For a very long time, I could do nothing to make them go away.
I would try and try, but the thoughts always returned, stronger than before. I was so accustomed to having these thoughts that I didn’t think other people were struggling with them.
So when I learned about the term OCD, it felt like a huge relief.
Finally, something could explain why I did what I did and why the irrational behaviors that helped me deal with my intrusive thought made sense.
This is my story about how I learned to face my fears instead of running away from them.
My biggest fear was getting sick and dying, and when I started reading about OCD, I realized that it was a fear I shared with other people who had been diagnosed with the disorder.
I looked up support groups online, and there were thousands of people who, just like me, struggled with intrusive thoughts. It felt as if a huge weight had been lifted from my shoulders just knowing that I wasn’t alone in this battle.
I continued to research the disorder and discovered many different forms of OCD. I also started learning about exposure therapy and cognitive behavior therapy. I realized that the only thing I could do was face my fears. The first steps involved slow exposure to triggers without giving in to compulsions.
I started with a straightforward exposure:
I would touch the door three times with my right foot and then three times with my left every time I went outside, so nothing terrible would happen.
The first time I didn’t do that, I felt anxious, and it was tough not to give in to the compulsion.
I kept on exposing myself to different situations, and I always made sure not to give in to compulsions, no matter how much they hurt.
I understood that my compulsions were nothing more than ways of avoiding the real issue, and if I didn’t learn how to deal with my fears head-on, they would only keep coming back.
Slowly but surely, the thoughts became easier to face, and eventually, they would trigger only mild anxiety.
I’ve been using exposure therapy and self-help techniques to deal with my OCD for over a year now, and what has helped me the most was talking to other people who had experienced intrusive thoughts as well.
My advice to anyone that reads this is not to be afraid of the OCD demon. Easier said than done, I know. But the more you fight it, the more you will suffer.
My OCD mananing tips are:
According to recent statistics from BeyondOCD.org, OCD is one of the top 20 causes of illness-related disability worldwide, aged 15-44. Therefore, identifying possible ways to help cope with OCD symptoms is always helpful.
Once you have been diagnosed with OCD, it is essential to realize that this is not something new in your life. Most likely, you experienced its symptoms earlier through the years and wondered what had been wrong with you during those moments.
It may have felt like you were crazy or were losing your mind. However, that is not the case; this disorder means that your brain works differently from others.
The way to cope with OCD lies is by accepting this disorder properly. Many people resist their diagnosis and refuse to accept it; they do not believe they are sick.
It is crucial to recognize that OCD does exist, and you should be able to learn how to cope with it rather than having it control you.
Do your own research.
Living in the era of unlimited information, there is no excuse for not consuming all the relevant research for a specific problem. The same goes for assessing your situation and reading further about its implications.
Numerous studies describe the proper techniques for coping with anxiety, stress, and other OCD-related disorders.
It’s more than clear that specific approaches work differently depending on the individual. Hence, trying what works for you and what doesn’t is a good start.
Talk with like-minded individuals.
Understandably, talking about your condition in your friends’ circle might be a little intimidating at first. It is not quite the case that OCD sufferers search for other sufferers among their friends’ groups to share their concerns.
The good news is International OCD Foundation lists support groups that offer online chat and phone support.
It is highly encouraging to talk about your current state, fears, and uncertainties with people who are there for you.
Help those with the same problems
While it is incredible being able to reach so many individuals offering their help to OCD sufferers, you can become one of them too. Once accepting that you are not alone in the journey of treating your OCD symptoms, a good idea would be to join a volunteer organization and help others who have the same diagnosis.
It will not only make you feel helpful and proud of yourself, but it will automatically increase your self-awareness and positively affect your mental resilience.
Practice mindfulness and meditation.
Mindfulness and meditation are critical elements in the treatment of OCD because they teach individuals how to become more aware of their mental state and relieve themselves from feelings of frustration.
To be more specific, mindfulness involves focusing on the present while staying open-minded and conscious of one’s thoughts and emotions.
As for meditation, it usually entails picturing a mental image in one’s head while focusing on the emotions that arise.
Ideally, people with OCD should practice mindfulness and meditation daily to deal with their disturbing thoughts and feelings.
Challenge the false beliefs about the disorder.
Beliefs are critical components of one’s mental health because they act as the foundation for one’s thoughts and perceptions.
In other words, beliefs about oneself and the world can be either helpful or harmful depending on what these thoughts entail.
In the context of OCD, individuals should avoid accepting their false beliefs as facts because this will only perpetuate negative emotions, anxious responses, and a dysfunctional lifestyle.
Instead, challenge your beliefs about yourself and the disorder. It will enable you to change your perspective about these issues.
For example, instead of thinking that your OCD symptoms are a true reflection of who you are as a person, remember that they signify an illness that has nothing to do with the real you.
Create healthier habits.
Whether it is OCD or other mental diagnoses present in your life, a reassessment of your good and bad habits is necessary.
To succeed in your OCD treatment, you must eliminate bad habits and patterns that create additional stress in your life.
It is also crucial to create good habits that help you live a healthier lifestyle while strengthening your self-confidence and self-esteem.
Eat healthily, regular exercise, practice breathing exercises, meditate, perform relaxation activities before bedtime.
All these are great ways of promoting physical well-being and mental mindset.
A plethora of evidence suggests how exercise reduces anxiety by helping the brain cope with the accumulated stress.
A study from the Anxiety and Depression Association of America suggests that those who exercise regularly are 25% less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression in the next five years.
Done give up OCD is a beateble disorder.
I know that fighting OCD can be extremely hard, but I want everyone out there fighting to see that they are not alone. OCD is a genuine disorder, and OCD symptoms are very hard to live with, but so many people suffer from them worldwide every day.
This website is a place where people can come together and talk as if they knew each other in real life. I hope you will take advantage of this opportunity and join our community!
I wish you all the best.
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I’ve been struggling with OCD for as long as I can remember. After a long CBT course, exposure therapy, mindfulness meditation, and many self-help books. I can say that I’ve started to understand how my mind works. It’s not always easy, but it gets much easier when I learn about OCD and its triggers, symptoms, and behaviors meant to ease the intrusive thought. I want to contribute to this community by sharing what I’ve learned. Read my OCD story.