How Do I Start Healing from Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)?

By Kristen
Content Written/Updated on May 23, 2007

Hi Kristen, It's nice to have something like this for those of us that don't want to tell anyone of our suspicions. I'm wondering if I don't have OCD-may have had in mild, mild forms for years now that I think back but now have had 2 boys and things have changed. I don't think I'm a bad case, just mild. I read an article in Self magazine and I felt like I was reading about me. I was shocked at that fact and made me realize that there's a reason for my thoughts, not just going crazy/bad mom. For years I've had intrusive thoughts of bad events happening and chalked it up to not being able to watch the news much. I tried to block it from my head and get upset when the thoughts kept creeping back in. Things (thoughts) worsened after each of my two boys were born. Now 15 mos. after my last boy, I'm realizing I need help. My Dr. put me on Lexapro yesterday for anxious feelings but not sure if I need more intervention. Hand-washing is a big thing for me, especially when I'm working (at a hospital.) Didn't realize this was a symptom of anything. Where do I go from here? Wait to see if the medicine works? I go back in 4 weeks. Thanks.

--Jennifer


I would highly suggest getting professional psychotherapy, even if you are on medication. It did wonders for me. If you can't afford therapy, try getting some books about OCD and doing the exercises (usually keeping journals and spending time doing visualizations) recommended in the book. It may also be very beneficial to find a support group, so you don't feel so freakishly alone (I certainly felt like the only one in the world with my problems until I went to a support group), and most support groups are free.

OCD can be frightening, and I think it's difficult for people without it to understand that horror that comes from thinking about all the things that could happen because of germs, lack of preparedness, etc. Even the absurd rituals start out as being reasonable, then they just go out of control. You begin to doubt yourself (e.g. "Did I really check the door, or did I imagine it? Maybe I'll check again." "Did I really wash my hands enough last time? I could have missed something. Maybe I should do it again just to be sure.") Before you know it, it becomes an habit to check things repeatedly, wash things repeatedly, or do superstitious things. Then there are the nightmarish movies that may play in your head repeatedly, and no amount of ritual behavior can seem to make them go away.

Cognitive behavioral therapy can help you control your bad habits, and analytical therapy can help get to the root of the cause of your obsessions (there's usually an event or series of events that start the pattern even if you are genetically predisposed to anxiety and have an obsessive nature).

So, hit your book store and library to learn more about OCD and start looking around for support groups and therapists (it costs nothing to call around to find out what's out there).