Hi, my name is Jo, I’m a volunteer here at OCD Action and I am thrilled to say that I have recovered from a life-time of debilitating OCD.
Today, at 34, I am no longer a slave to OCD; I no longer feel like a prisoner of my own mind; I no longer hate existing, OCD no longer dictates my feelings, relationships and makes my “choices” for me. I no longer feel I have to work twice as hard as others to be half as “good”. I no longer dread waking up in the mornings and no longer have to drag myself to bed at night. OCD directed every single aspect of my life for 20 long years (from which sandwich I ate to which city I lived in) yet I only requested and accepted treatment a couple of years ago.
Why did I tolerate OCD’s torture for so long? Well...I gave myself dozens of reasons why I shouldn’t even bother enquiring about treatment. Here are a few of the lies I told myself about pursuing treatment: “I didn’t have a problem - I was making it up; no-one would take me seriously – OCD didn’t even exist; people liked my OCD-they exploited it even; OCD made me “funny”- I was nothing without my OCD; recovery would be too painful – I wouldn’t survive therapy; treatment wasn’t available to me; I was different (I had an Eating Disorder) so the therapy wouldn’t work for me - I was a hopeless case; I was alone, no-one would understand; I wasn’t worth recovery; treatment would mean I’d be pumped up with drugs or locked up; I was too young....then I was too old”....the list of fearful assumptions went on and on.
Paradoxically, although I couldn’t bare living WITH OCD, I was absolutely petrified of a life WITHOUT OCD. As the years went by I became sick and tired of being sick and tired until I finally went to an anonymous support group and was fascinated to hear so many stories like my own. There I learned that this self-punishing behaviour was NOT ME, it was my OCD. I learnt that OCD was a serious condition that could affect anyone from any background and at any age. I learnt that OCD was not my fault, there is a solution and I could lead a free, happy and content life!
Filled with hope (and curiosity) I called OCD Action’s helpline and spoke to a volunteer called David who had recovered from OCD and understood my pain and desperation. Right there and then on the phone, he patiently explained the steps I could take to get treatment. It was scary as Hell but with each step I took, David or another volunteer at OCD Action was on the other end of the phone supporting me and provoking a few giggles along the way.
In a nutshell, my treatment process has comprised of CBT with exposure therapy, medication and support from an OCD-12 step group. Recovery hasn’t been easy for me but it wasn’t a fraction as scary or painful as I imagined. In less than 2 years of treatment, I have gone from living like a hamster on a wheel to a more balanced, loving and fulfilling life style.
I never want to go back to my existence pre-recovery and I never need go back. I have a solution to my OCD today and I AM FREE. And it all started in the midst of hopelessness.... with a single action.