One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do was to overcome my OCD compulsions, I can confidently say I went from doing everything 4 times to almost completely eliminating compulsions and this was before I had any counselling or had even heard those three letters CBT.
Now, time for a little disclaimer: I am not claiming to be an expert of any kind, I have no qualifications when it comes to therapy I am literally sharing what worked for me in the hope it can help others. If it works for you too, fantastic.
Now you know it wasn’t going to be one of those ‘one size fits all’, quick fix, type of things, that would be too easy, but hopefully you can mould what I did to work for you too.
So here it is, I basically used OCD against itself, let me try and explain. We know as people who suffer with OCD that when we get an intrusive thought, that it is just that, but as much as we try and rationalise it out (so feeding the thought) it won’t go away and in fact most of the time it gets worse and worse until we finally give in and do the compulsion. But what if when the thought came into your head you threw a different thought back at it??
Here’s an example for you as it’s very hard to explain without one.
Now a classic OCD compulsion for most suffers is hand washing, I know it was definitely one of mine.
So I go to the sink to wash my hands (hopefully just once this time I think in my head) but then as I’m washing my hands here comes the intrusive thought
‘What if that part of the tap you touched wasn’t clean, I saw a little mark on it, who knows what that could be, maybe you should wash your hands again just to be sure??’
Now the idea is to throw a different thought back at it such as this:
‘The more I wash my hands the more likely they are to get very sore and cut, if I have little cuts all over my hands am I not more likely to pick something up from the tap or in fact anywhere?’
OCD brain then thinks:
‘Yes, actually you’re right, I am better off washing my hands just once as the small risk of catching something from the tap is outweighed by the bigger possible risk’
Compulsion conquered, take that OCD!
Now this is just one example and obviously there are millions of different possible compulsions, but I actually found I was very good at thinking of new questions to oppose the ones triggering my compulsions. I think it may be the way our minds work.
Another example which I used was walking under a ladder, how compelled we all are to walk around the ladder no matter what just to avoid some bad luck. But what if you had to walk onto a busy road to walk around the ladder, isn’t that actually more dangerous then going under it??
Afterall OCD is just messing with your reality so you go and mess with it and see if it works for you, I really hope it does.