What they are, how I get past them with Cognitive Behavior Therapy techniques, and what happens when I give up fighting these obsessions.
I’ve called these my “what ifs” for years.
I’m aware that my obsessions are not realistic, but it’s like lacking the ability to reason through certain thoughts. These thoughts can be invasive and sometimes, flat out disturbing.
One of my therapists described it perfectly. She said it’s like a car getting stuck in the mud. The tire spins and spins when you’re stuck in your obsessions, the “what ifs”. She said my brain doesn’t have the ability to get out of the mud. I couldn’t get past a thought that worries me. She said that I can teach my brain to get unstuck. Almost like “re-wiring” my thoughts.
Currently, it’s possible for me to get unstuck.
This is where my CBT techniques come in handy. I talk to myself, write notes to myself, talk to others, and anything else that gets it out of my head. The important part is taking the obsession out of my head and into something that can be heard or read. At my worst, I locked the front door then said out loud, “I locked the door”. I wrote, “I locked the door” on a sticky note and put it on my car’s dashboard. Eventually, I worked up to just telling myself that the door is locked in my head. I would catch myself obsessing about something, usually around the time my anxiety starts to kick in. I would say out loud to myself, “I’m having these thoughts because of my OCD”. This can make the obsession lose it’s power until the next time it might pop in my head.
There’s a set of obsessions that are not caused by an action, and those are hard to pin down. For me, those can be based on fears, which I’ll write about in another post.
When I can’t get unstuck, I react with a compulsion. The compulsions are driven by the anxiety caused by the obsessions.
If a long time passes and the car is still stuck in the mud, then that’s a different situation. Like when I was house-bound and didn’t want to leave. I rank this as my worst. Once in awhile, like a self-evaluation, I tend to do a comparison of “how I was then” versus “where I am now”. This puts it all into perspective and lets me see how far I have come.