I wanted to share a bit about how my OCD is/has been today. I’m not going to delve into the contents of my OCD thoughts here, instead I want to give you an idea of what it’s like to live with OCD thoughts constantly. My OCD thoughts tell me that my worst fears will happen unless I do as OCD says. For the purposes of this post, let’s refer to these fears as ‘A’.
I have an event coming up on Friday at which I’d like to drink alcohol. Because this is something I’d like to do, I keep having OCD thoughts that A will happen if I drink alcohol on that day. To counteract this, I make another thought which says “A will not happen if I make my own choice about whether or not I drink alcohol on Friday.” Sometimes I feel the need to clarify that this means I should make my own choice about whether to drink some alcohol or no alcohol, because there is a chance that not every choice I make regarding alcohol will be my own choice (I might have an OCD thought about taking a sip at a certain moment, for example, and instinctively obey it before I’ve remembered that I’m supposed to be making my own choice). These thoughts that I make in an attempt to ‘overwrite’ the OCD thoughts are also a symptom of OCD; I am making them – they aren’t automatic – but I wouldn’t be making them if I was mentally well.
The OCD thoughts that I get concerning drinking (or any other thing I want to do) combine with other OCD thoughts. For example I had an OCD thought which said that if I retuned my TV (it’s lost Sky News in the wind…) and didn’t complete it before my partner came on Skype, then I wouldn’t be able to drink alcohol on Friday without A happening.
Basically, OCD takes every passing thought or action and attaches it to one or more of my worst fears. OCD has a fear for every little action I want to do, from typing a certain word to eating a chocolate.
How do I react to this? Sometimes I do what the initial OCD thought says, sometimes I make my own thought to try to overwrite the OCD thought (as described above), and sometimes I use cognitive reappraisal techniques to give me the strength to ignore what OCD is telling me.
It’s exhausting, and it gets me down. I have to do twice the mental workload all the time. There’s no way for me to find respite from these thoughts – I can’t relax and forget about them. OCD is a nightmare.