Conquering OCD

Posted by Phil Cardenas on Jan 03, 2012

by Janet Singer

New Year’s Resolutions: We Need a Plan

I have never been a big fan of New Year’s resolutions. The few times I actually made them I gave up by the end of January, with only frustration and a sense of failure to show for my efforts (or lack thereof).

I think the problem is I never really thought these resolutions through. They were just proclamations: “I’m going to eat better. I’m going to exercise more. I’m going to worry less.” I resolved to do these things, but I had no plan.

The beginning of a new year, in my opinion, is a good time to take stock of our lives and envision our hopes for ourselves and our loved ones for the year to come. And once our desires are clear, the next step is to develop a plan to make them happen.

Plan to fight OCD

For OCD sufferers and their families, goals may include things as general as wanting to feel better or wanting to help a loved one get well. How these goals will be achieved is where all the planning comes in. And everyone’s plan will be different.

Perhaps you or a family member has recently been diagnosed with OCD. Your plan might include learning whatever you can about the disorder. Bookstores, libraries, and web sites such as Beyond OCD offer a wealth of information. Your plan may also include finding a therapist who specializes in OCD and Exposure Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy, joining a support group, or learning how to best support your loved one who has OCD.

If you have been dealing with OCD for a while, maybe your plan will involve changing your treatment plan if what you are doing now has not been helpful. Perhaps it’s time to switch therapists, or to talk with your current therapist about revamping your ERP Therapy. Maybe your plan will even involve seeking treatment for the first time. If your loved one has been suffering from OCD, your plan may involve learning how to not enable him or her.

These are just some of the many goals OCD sufferers and their families may envision when dealing with the disorder. I realize that just reading the previous two paragraphs might be overwhelming. That’s why “the plan,” for whatever goals you may have, needs to be broken down into small, manageable steps. For example, if you are looking for a new therapist, first research the best way to do this. You may decide to contact Beyond OCD or the International OCD Foundation for referrals. That is a great first step. Next you can research questions you may want to ask when contacting a new therapist. The next step may be to set up consultations with several different therapists, and the final step will involve making an informed decision. This process may take days or weeks, but as long as you are moving forward that is all that matters. I can’t stress enough how important I think it is to break goals down into doable parts. Otherwise you may be setting yourself up for failure (see first paragraph), or at least a lot of increased anxiety, and none of us needs that!

OCD aside, when thinking of some common New Year’s resolutions, it is interesting to note that they are often things that are specifically recommended to those who suffer from anxiety disorders: daily exercising, eating well, learning relaxation techniques, and helping others.

Again these are general goals and everyone’s step-by-step plan to achieve them will be different. For example, eating well may be decreasing consumption of caffeine and refined sugar for one person or becoming a vegetarian for another. If your goal is the first scenario, you may want to make a chart and plan to gradually decrease your coffee and soda consumption. The expression “slow and steady wins the race” fits well here.

In many ways, this plan for following through on New Year’s resolutions is quite similar to dealing with OCD. Coming to terms with having the disorder, learning how to fight it, and getting well, all involve goals, a well thought out plan, and small, manageable steps. New Year’s resolutions can be kept, and OCD can be beaten, but they both take a lot of work and will not happen overnight.

Here’s wishing you and your family a happy, healthy 2012, filled with goals and plans for whatever you wish to achieve.

Beyond OCD is a great place to start planning for the battle to get Beyond OCD. This non-profit organization is the world’s leading resource for information, therapies, and assistance in combating obsessive compulsive disorder. It is here for sufferers, families and friends of sufferers, educators, clergy, the media, and mental health professionals. 

Janet Singer, an advocate for OCD awareness, is published regularly on various mental health web sites. She explores all topics related to OCD and shares what helped and what hurt in her son Dan’s recovery from this devastating disorder.  While there were many lessons learned along the way, Janet feels the most powerful one of all is that there is always hope. She is committed to getting the word out that OCD, no matter how severe, is treatable. You can read more about Dan’s story and follow her personal blog at: Janet uses a pseudonym to protect her son’s privacy.


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