First off, let me cover my ass legally. I’m not a doctor. Don’t take this as medical advice. Consider these ideas to be “Entertainment.” Ultimately, you’re responsible for any actions you take as a result of this blog post. Seek out a qualified professional for any health difficulties you may or may not be struggling with.
With that being said, something I’d struggled with over the last 6-9 months was OCD. It was strange to me because OCD was something I’d never dealt with before, and around the onset of the 2013-2014 school year I developed a mild to moderate case of it.
I’d check my alarm clocks 3-4 times to make sure they were set each night. Inside my car I’d have to chant, “Lights off. Lights off. Lights off. Lights off,” before I could get out.
My eccentric behaviors weren’t running or ruining my life, but they were an almost constant low level anxiety. I’ve tried several different things to combat these strange inclinations over the past few months, and in doing so I’ve found several techniques and ideas that have served me in almost completely eliminating my OCD.
Before we get started though, let me go make sure I turned my car lights off… 😉
Ok the lights are good. Let’s get to it.
The Three S’s
Sleep, stress, and social isolation. I don’t know why these aspects of your lifestyle would be connected to OCD, but at least in my case they were inseparable from it.
Getting adequate rest, setting aside time to play, and maintaining an active social life are important to anyone. This is very bro-sciency, but try getting these needs met and even if they don’t help your OCD to the extent they helped mine, they’ll still allow you to be a healthier and happier person in general.
Breaking Identification And Changing Habits
This is where things start becoming a lot more directly applicable to OCD. One of the problems with compulsive behaviors is that each time you’re coerced into performing them you’re strengthening them as a habit.
In other words, each day you decide to skip the gym you make it more likely you’ll skip the gym the next day as well. In the same way, each time you give into the temptation to check whether your doors are locked you make it more likely you’ll engage in compulsive behaviors in the future as well.
Obviously, it’s important to have your doors locked so maybe this does result in you double checking on occasion. That’s normal. What’s not normal is knowing your doors are locked on an intellectual level and going back to check on them anyway. This is key. Understanding this is how I effectively conquered my OCD.
I realized that I wasn’t the voice in my head. If it said to go check on my alarm clocks, I didn’t have to go check. If on an intellectual level I knew that I had already locked my door it didn’t matter what the voice in my head said. I wasn’t going back to check.
Doing so was uncomfortable. I would feel intense urges to engage in my compulsive behaviors. But I wouldn’t let myself. I realized that because my compulsive habits were so firmly established it was going to be uncomfortable while my brain rewired itself.
I kept pushing forward, however, and the urges and discomfort gradually decreased in intensity. After a month or so I’m almost back to where I was before adopting all these strange compulsive behaviors. In another couple weeks I’m confident I’ll be completely back to normal.
I’m aware that I may not have the deepest understanding of OCD, or have had the worst case of it, but I hope that reading about my experience in overcoming it was useful for you anyway. 🙂
(Picture from April 2014. Taken in Texas.)
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