Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Call it what it is

I started thinking yesterday back to when it was first confirmed that I had OCD. I chose to reflect a little bit because it’s easy to often get lost in just getting through the day.

I remember one of the first things I learnt about how to deal with OCD.

It was the idea of every time an obsessive thought comes, you are to stop a second and label it.

Labelling means telling yourself it is an OCD thought and not coming from you per se.

At first I remember starting to do this and it not making any difference at all. In fact in some ways it made me feel like I was lying to myself and it was just another way for me to not face the truth.

I mean how can a thought you have in your head, which goes with an emotional reaction so deeply felt and poignant, be wrong?
That is the $64million question.

I struggle all the time with this still, but labelling it is a necessary process.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not perfect in this and I have certainly not overcome OCD, but when this labelling is done regularly, over an extended period of time, you can start to believe it as a possibility.

Separating yourself from certain thoughts and suggesting that they are not really you is a useful technique.

I have come to identify OCD thoughts with something almost like a passenger who follows me around, and is a terrible conversationalist.

It’s a bit like that nagging kid in the back of the car on a long journey, but the journey doesn’t seem to end. What’s the destination?? I dunno.

For a time I was very disciplined in labelling thoughts as obsessive or not. It worked relatively well. The challenge is in being consistent and that’s where I fail a bit.

My wife and I do not like talking about OCD as OCD. It all sounds very doom and gloom. So, although slightly crazy, we have given it all a name.

Ladies and gentleman, let me introduce PETE!

We call it Pete. That’s it’s name.

So when I am feeling a bit consumed in thoughts etc I can say to myself “Pete is an asshole”.

I say to my wife “Pete is being an asshole again”.

Sorry for the sudden appearance of a swear word, but that’s how it goes. This statement doubles up as a labelling of the thought and also an exposure to scrupulosity worries.

In the scrupulous mind swearing is akin to taking someone’s life or something close.

So I say that swear word to describe OCD.

It’s surprisingly refreshing.

Who would have thought that a good swear word could calm anxiety.

Is God going to disown me or leave me alone for simply saying “asshole”??

Sanity says no, but OCD says yes.

I have to take that chance.

Labelling alone is not enough. It's a great start, but other stuff has to follow I think. I've got some ideas and thoughts on that, but maybe for another post.


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