This was one of my hardest and most embarrassing stories to share. I wrote the following post as I was going through a tough time with my OCD. I was hoping if I wrote about it while I was going through it, that maybe it would be a little easier to handle and I would accomplish what I was trying to do, which was to not give in to my OCD. I thought it would help me to do something once and not repeatedly. Anyways, here’s how it went.
My OCD loves to torment me, and it loves when I “give in” to it.
Even though OCD is in my head all day every day, there are certain things that it really loves to torture me with. What I mean by that is there are things that I have to spend “extra time” with.
Things that may sound simple to someone without OCD but for me its not. Changing the sheets on my bed is one of those things.
I think I may have mentioned this before, but there have been days after I wash my bedding, I make my bed so many times I actually loose count. By the time I’m done my arms are extremely sore, I’m dripping with sweat, and I feel like I’m going to collapse from exhaustion.
Realistically, the bed looks perfectly fine when I make it just once. But my OCD says something terrible will happen if I don’t make it again, and again, and again…..and if a bad thought enters my mind when I think I’m done, I have to start the process all over and do it even more times.
One time I stressed for days about washing my bedding. I kept putting it off because I knew how hard and how time consuming it would be. When the time came and I knew I couldn’t put it off any longer, I ended up throwing the sheets away. I slept on a bed with no sheets for weeks because of it. Other times, just to get out of doing it, I hired a house cleaner and had her do it for me. Then I started having my roommate do it for me so I wouldn’t have to.
Today Is The Day
I can’t have everyone else doing things for me. I have to stand up to my OCD.
I told myself this time it will be different, this time I will wash the sheets and make the bed only once.
So when the time came, I said a prayer and threw the sheets in the washer. All morning long my OCD thoughts were haunting me. I caught myself trying to “bargain” with it. Telling myself if I just make my bed 4 times everything will be ok. But then I realized that I would still be giving in to the OCD because I would still be making the bed more than once.
So once the sheets were washed and dried, I made the bed and tried my hardest to ignore the horrible thoughts. The whole time OCD was telling me to make it again, telling me bad things would happen if I didn’t.
Those bad thoughts wouldn’t leave my mind. I kept trying to think of happy thoughts, I even repeated happy quotes, anything to distract those bad thoughts. I hurried up and made the bed once and I quickly left the room.
I made a cup of coffee, grabbed my laptop, and sat on the porch. The whole time trying to resist going back in that room and making that bed again.
That’s where I am now. I am writing this while I’m STILL sitting on my porch.
I don’t want to go back inside because if I do I’m scared I will give in. I’m even more scared if I don’t give in. I’m so tense and I’m emotionally drained. My mind is racing and these thoughts are pounding on my brain. These thoughts seem to get stronger and stronger the more I try to ignore it.
From what I have learned through therapy and research is the key to overcoming my OCD is learning how to resist doing my repetitive rituals and that means learning how to do things only one time and then resisting the urge I feel to do it again. I have to learn to resist doing the compulsions.
I know the anxiety that I’m feeling is only temporary and I need to learn to withstand it so I can move forward and stop letting OCD control me.
I’m sitting here trying so desperately to NOT GIVE IN. I hate how I’m feeling right now.
I’m So Confused And So Unsure
My OCD is telling me to wash those sheets again, telling me to make that bed again, and telling me I BETTER do it “or else“. I’m scared, and I am nervous. My body is so tense. The uncomfortable feeling is really hard to handle. I’m miserable and I don’t know what to do. My anxiety is about at it’s worse and I don’t think I can do this. I know I need to try, I have to try, I have to really give it my all this time. If I want to get better I know I need to sit with these feelings, sit with the anxiety. Oh how I hate feeling like this.
I just want to go lay down and sleep. I think thats what I will do. Maybe when I wake up these intense feelings won’t be as strong.
A COUPLE HOURS LATER
Well I took a nap. I felt a little better when I woke up. Not much, but a little. I tried going about my day, I tried keeping busy to distract myself. The thoughts were still there. In the back of my mind I worried and thought what if those thoughts are real, what if I’m really supposed to give in. The other part of my mind was telling myself the thoughts are ocd and to stop listening to it.
A Couple More Hours Later
I took another nap. I didn’t want to feel all the anxiety. So I just slept. When I woke up and still felt bad, I walked into my room and I did it. I made my bed again.
I had tried so hard not to but I just couldn’t handle all the “what ifs” that were going on in my head. I couldn’t handle the uncertainty. I was weak and I surrendered to my OCD.
Even though I had gave in, that dam OCD STILL wanted me to do it again. All the things I felt earlier were back and just as strong as before.
It doesn’t seem to matter how many times I do it because it will never be enough, my thoughts and all the unpleasant feelings would keep coming back. It would keep coming back because I was feeding into it.
I knew what I needed to do in order to get better, I had to stop giving in, I had to starve my OCD. I had to be strong, be determined, and not let it win again no matter how bad the anxiety got. I said this before but this time it will be different. I will not let OCD win again. I will win.
I sat with all those feelings, all that anxiety, just like I did the first time. I was just as miserable too. So once again I went back to sleep.
I woke up feeling drained. I was mentally drained but I started reading everything I had about OCD and E.R.P. This time instead of ignoring the thoughts I sat with the thoughts. I kept reminding myself those thoughts mean nothing, those thoughts are ocd not me. I was even more determined this time. I would not give in. I will win.
AND I DID
Now I know I gave in the first time. But compared to how many times I did it in the past, this was a huge victory for me. Sitting with all those feelings and unpleasant thoughts was extremely difficult and scary. But I kept at it, being more and more determined.
It took 2 days for the terrifying thoughts and feelings to lighten up. 2 days of horrible anxiety. 2 days being scared. I kept facing it and not avoiding it. I knew if I made that bed again it wouldn’t change those thoughts. It would still be there pulling and tugging on my brain. But as the days went by, it got easier, and then even easier, until those thoughts lessoned and I no longer was scared.
As hard and scary as it was, I got through it. And because of that, I made my OCD a little weaker. At least for now.
I’m forced to deal with these situations all the time. Some not as bad, some are worse. I’m proud of myself for being able to push through. It gives me hope. I know I have to keep trying, no matter how hard it gets, because eventually it will get easier.
I know I will not succeed everytime, but as long as I’m trying, I’m slowly winning. And I am going to keep trying. Baby-steps for now, bigger steps soon. I will get better.
Have a wonderful weekend and thank you for reading.