My OCD has been calm lately. I knock on wood when I say that. Really, how well I manage my OCD is completely dependent on me. That’s not to say that I don’t have random spikes of anxiety. Some days I feel more anxious than others. Some days I see a million triggers, other days I see none. Some days, I automatically start compulsions and other days I don’t. The other day, my therapist wanted me to do research on a topic.
I started to get anxious about this rather quickly. I didn’t know why she wanted me to research this. I started having a lot of automatic thoughts, “Does she think I am this way?” “What am I not seeing?” “Am I ruining my relationships?” I dove down into the research hole pretty deeply. Fifteen articles and a sixty question quiz later, I spotted it. Oh my god, this is my OCD. Suddenly, I was reminded that the world wouldn’t end if I was like this. I could fix and repair relationships if I was having trouble in them. Most importantly, I can ask what she is seeing and what she thinks.
This didn’t stop me from ruminating. My mind continuously wanted to go down the hole of worse case scenarios. It wanted to spin in repetitive circles to figure out what someone else was thinking. It wanted to find a blind spot that I may or may not have. After spotting this, I reached out to my OCD therapist. I told her what was going on and we started exposures. The biggest one was not doing anymore research and waiting with uncertainty. This was huge for me.
The further I got into not knowing and waiting, the more confidence I built. The more I felt like my world wasn’t falling apart. This was a minor OCD spike in comparison to some that I’ve had but it still challenged my reality. When my OCD goes down, I can forget that it’s there. My brain wants to do what it does best. Until I catch it from heading in an unhealthy direction, I struggle.
By the time I got to seeing my therapist again, I was thrilled. I did exactly what I was supposed to do. I saw compulsions, I became mindful, I reached out for help, and I got myself out of the spiral. I was/am so proud of myself. Six months ago, this would be completely different. This situation would look completely different.
What I’ve learned is that triggers will always be there. The more I avoid them, the more difficult my life becomes. The more I trust that I will be okay, the more confidence I have when anxiety tells me I won’t. I still face intrusive thoughts everyday. This is a journey that fluctuates. I have ups and downs. The difference? I trust myself to do what I need to, to help myself, and find those compulsions in order to stop them. I wanted to share this win because in the thick of anxiety, that is what I needed to keep building my confidence. Now in the thin of my anxiety, it assures me that I am capable of so much more than I give myself credit for.