OCD & personal joy

TDUBBS (trigger warnings): obsessive thoughts, self-harm, OCD

It started as fear of making mistakes: educational, professional, personal, medical…

It escalated into a near-debilitating inability to get rid of images of harm coming to those I love or myself.

Now, I write this not fully out of the woods. I was diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder before the age of 13 and symptoms have come and gone ever since, changing faces like Koh.

But I promise, this post isn’t here to be a downer. Recently I saw someone write about “having to just live life” in the midst of OCD. As in, still live even though there’s fear. Still live and exist and enjoy even though there’s doubt. Survive and thrive in uncertainty. And almost no piece in my 15+ years of OCD suffering has hit me the way this has. And I am extremely lucky enough to have been able to get fantastic help throughout much of that time.

I have tended to jump at every negative possibility. While I do find joy in the little things- a napping cat, black cat fur turning red in the sun, blooming flowers at the start of spring, a gurgling creek, the smell after rain, a burning candle, a funky-looking cactus – it has become all too easy to slip right into fear.

Thoughts that the good things will end, that I’m not enjoying them right, that if I don’t do this or that this or that will happen. These are the tortures of an obsessive-compulsive mind.

But that reminder to “just live” reminds me of how alive I feel in those moments of joy, no matter how fleeting. An episode of the The OCD & Anxiety Podcast discusses living by your values as a way to survive OCD; my gosh, what beautiful advice that is! For me sometimes the hardest thing is believing what my ill mind tells me about myself; imagine the beauty of combatting that my trusting yourself enough to live how you want to live?

For me the thought of the possibility of being “myself” again, as well as getting back into therapy, have been huge motivators. I wish all those who suffer from OCD

and/or related disorders the very best. And although I can’t offer you therapy and won’t offer you reassurance (if you’re obsessive-compulsive, you get it) I’d be remiss if I didn’t share some of the resources I’ve been using recently:

🌻 Resources for OCD Support 🌻

  • NOCD a.k.a. treatmyocd.com
    • This app offers free ERP (exposure response prevention) tools as well as access to 1:1 therapy and group sessions. I’ve found it really comforting, inspiring, and useful in my recovery from this last bout of the disorder.
  • Longwalks – The Daily Question App
    • So this one isn’t directly related to OCD at all, but for me it’s been a friendly place to be mindful and remind myself of my values. It’s nice and serious sometimes, not-so-serious and fun the next. It never fails to bring a smile to my face and sometimes that’s all you need.
  • Calm Harm
    • Although I’m unsure if my past self-harm ever had to do with OCD, this is something I’ve used as a coping mechanism for uncomfy feelings. This cute lil app provides hundreds of ideas for what to do instead of hurting yourself as well as a timer and journaling section.

I truly feel Chris’s joy after he starts therapy – thins are a’changin’, and I’m getting to be a me I want to be.


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