Building Back Better: The Building Blocks of Resilience
There’s a lot of talk about resilience these days. Perhaps it’s a result living through a pandemic, facing existential questions related to humanity’s future in ...
By Ronnie Watts, Singer-Songwriter
Living with OCD has been a journey. When I was younger, I spent so much time washing my hands, closing and opening the same door, and trying to control my thoughts without knowing what was going on with my brain. As things got worse, I knew something was wrong.
I was a junior in high School and I no longer could write notes down in class without my anxious thoughts completely taking over. I would erase and rewrite the same word over and over again and totally lose focus on the actual material. I gave up on reading books because my OCD would force me to read the same sentence countless times. I couldn’t even watch TV or listen to music because it got too frustrating to rewind over and over again. It felt like I was holding my breath with every move I made, scared I would have to repeat it again. When my anxiety got really bad, I wouldn’t be able to move at all. Even the way I breathed was something my OCD could cling to.
That’s when I decided to see a therapist. I specifically focused on cognitive behavioral therapy, where we did exposure therapy. I would face my fears head on and challenge my OCD. OCD varies greatly from person to person, and it is one of the many reasons why it’s such a tricky diagnosis. With my type of OCD, a big part of it is magical thinking, meaning my brain convinces itself that everything I think is going to happen. To suppress my intrusive thoughts, my compulsions involve repeating whatever task I am doing until I replace that ‘bad’ thought with a ‘good’ thought, and my anxiety subsides. Just talking to a therapist about what was going on with me was a great start. It’s like having someone to cheer for you every time you don’t give into a compulsion. After several months of going to therapy, things became more manageable.
Being a musician, OCD can get in the way of things. It can be difficult to be productive. The thing I discovered about OCD is the more I give into it, the stronger it gets. The good news about that is that the less you give into it, the weaker it gets. Of course I have some days or weeks where I feel out of control, but I’ve gotten to the point where I feel more proud of myself and less anxious every time I stop myself from doing a compulsion.
If you’re struggling, it’s so important to give yourself a pat on the back and realize how far you’ve come. Positive self-talk has been something I’ve been working on lately that has really helped me.
A lot of people use OCD as an adjective they throw around lightly, but it can be a suffocating illness. It’s not something you can ignore, so going to a therapist is a great way to start getting better. Realize that you don’t need to live this way and you don’t need to suffer in silence. Things do get better.
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