STRATEGY #9 ACCEPT OCD AS A CHRONIC DISORDER
OCD is most often a long term disorder. This is especially true if symptoms started in childhood or adolescence. The only people I have seen who appear to have completely overcome all traces of OCD are those with a sudden onset of violent, sexual or blasphemous obsessions who recover quickly with some sort of therapy. This does not mean that great progress cannot be made in all cases of OCD. It’s just that, as in diabetes or hypertension, the basic tendency to the disorder remains.
In a group discussion not too long ago, members talked of the advantage of developing a realistic, long-term view of OCD.
Group member #1: Anymore I just accept that I’m going to have OCD forever. But I also know that it’s not going to stop me from living my life. When I get a bad obsession, I tell myself: You’ve gone through this hundreds and hundreds of times, and you’ll go through it hundred and hundreds more. It’s not going to ruin you. The less attention you give it, the better.
Group member #2: I’ve learned to live with OCD, too. What really helps is knowing that the symptoms will come and go. Even if I’m having a hard time now, I know that I’ve done very well in the past and I will in the future, too.
Group member #1: It’s helpful for me to tell myself: I have OCD, and I’m probably going to have it the rest of my life. So I better just deal with this obsession as best I can, because there’s no escaping from it.
Group member #3: I’m not ashamed of having OCD any more. I think positively about it. For some reason God made me with a bizarrely creative mind. He must have known what he was doing People with moderate to severe OCD usually have some symptoms all their lives. Recognizing this and adapting to it can be a crucial step in therapy.