Obsessive O- “Oh My God!! This spoon is so dirty”
Compulsive C- “So I need to clean it till I feel it’s safe to use.”
Disorder D- “Damn it!! The soap is over!! And it’s still not clean!! I am going to die!!”
There is a huge difference between owing this one of a kind condition v/s perfection and can be confusing to many. Wanting things in a perfect manner or in a certain way and still being able to focus on various tasks and relationships does not mean one has OCD. People who suffer from this know that what they are doing is not in the framework of acting normal. Therefore, many hide this condition and avoid confrontation or solutions.
The initial signs of OCD involved having one or more intrusive thoughts, urges, mental images that cause anxiety and stress. This in turn leads them to hunt for a solution which is most easily available that turns into a compulsion. A compulsion is nothing but a pressing need to repeat a task/ritual or mental acts over and over again until the individual feels safe and satisfied. For example, washing hands, taking long showers, counting numbers, avoiding contact with any contaminated person or object even if it is not life threatening. This repetition may vary from minutes to hours to days or even weeks. It affects the person’s appetite and sleep pattern as well. Compulsions affect the person’s daily routine, relationships, career, and lifestyle to a significant level. Reducing the impact of these compulsions become a primary line of treatment.
Thoughts of being contaminated are not the only kind of intrusive thoughts that may creep into an OCD client. For example, beliefs like “I am going to hell because of what I have done” or having a mental image of hurting someone or feeling extremely exposed to the risks of life or any crime. In OCD, it is always the belief that is strong about the obsession topic. Shaking the belief system is the second line of treatment in therapy.
Taking professional help is not a liability of homework or long lectures from a therapist. Psychotherapy works in the best interest of the client and their loved ones. A total assessment of risks and resources to cope is done in the faith of working on a particularly collaborated plan. The person’s routine and lifestyle is well studied in order to understand what areas of his/her life is being affected the most and the least due to OCD. This is important because identifying irrational thoughts like “what if something terrible happens” or assumptions like “if I use the same soap as the others in the family members use then I will catch their germs and suffer a skin disease.” Theses irrational thoughts root from very strong negative beliefs and fuel maladaptive coping strategies .Therefore knowing the need for help is not enough but executing the need for help is the key to improvement.
OCD is not about how productive one is, it’s about how unhelpful one is because there is practically no time left for self and others. Therefore, suppressing the need to visit a professional only makes it worse. Timely care and trusting help from others is challenging however it gives direction, relief and meaning to life. The cure is not to get rid of these intrusive thoughts but it is to accept them and still be able to function in a sane manner with a better purpose in life.
~ by Meischa Cholera
Meischa Cholera is a qualified psychologist and senior psychotherapist at Antarman.
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