OCD · Personal

What My OCD Has Taught Me

Whilst my OCD has dominated almost half my life, causing so much distress and affliction, it has also played a huge role in teaching me many things about myself. I wouldn’t be who I am today without having battled OCD. Struggles shape us in many different ways, and I feel like I am somewhat of a stronger person than what I would’ve been without my struggles with mental illness. With 2016 fast approaching, I’ve spent quite a while looking back and reflecting on previous years. I turn 17 in 3 days and I started this blog back when I was 14. It does scare me how fast time slips by and the big milestones approaching that have to be met in the coming few years. However, the passing of time is something I don’t have control over. Time will proceed no matter what, and I have to learn to be comfortable with that. So as a result of what’s happened over the past few months, I’ve realised I really need to take some time to see the positives behind the things in which I’ve struggled with because it’s very easy to slip into a really negative outlook when your life feels dominated with mental illness. So…what has my OCD has taught me?

1) It’s Okay to Ask For Help

I know this isn’t specifically about myself, but it’s something I’ve learnt to do. Initially, I sort of stumbled into getting help, I was sceptical and nervous about reaching out to someone. Would they understand? However as years have gone by, I’ve seriously come to learn how crucial and important my support system is to me. I couldn’t be more grateful to those who look after and support me week to week, through some really awful times. It’s also taught me that you need a team to fight OCD. By blocking people out and hiding away, I was only making things tougher for myself. There’s only so much you can withstand alone.

2) CBT and Mindfulness Skills

CBT is the main form of treatment for those with OCD and I’ve probably done my fair share of it over the past few years, however, it has allowed me to gain skills in which I will use for life. I think CBT, or really any type of therapy, can be mistakenly perceived to only be useful when in session. Or only for the period of time that you’re in therapy, which couldn’t be more false. The skills you learn will stay with you for life. Throughout my therapy, I’ve learnt so many skills for coping with anxiety, stress, low mood etc, that I put into practice even when I’m not specifically tackling an aspect of my mental illnesses. For example, we all get anxiety before exams and it can be easy to freak out. However, I find that I almost subconsciously use the skills I learnt when coping with anxiety after an exposure, in this situation to calm myself down and rationalise before exams. Which is something I’m so grateful to be the able to do. Without my OCD, I wouldn’t have acquired these skills.

3) My Passion For Writing

Now I’m unable to say whether I would’ve started a blog on another topic if I hadn’t of struggled with OCD, but as many of you know, this blog was initiated because of my struggle with OCD. If I could help just one person, then it would make me complete. I wanted to take a horrific disorder and turn what I’ve learnt into a resource for others in similar circumstances. As a result of my blog, I have really awoken my love for writing and it lovely to know that others like what I write too. Without having struggled with OCD, I don’t know if I would’ve discovered my passion for writing and I wouldn’t have had the privilege to experience what I have because of my blog.

4) I Have Quite a Stockpile of Perseverance 

OCD or any mental illness can be relentless. There’re no days off when you have a battle within your own mind. You wake up to it, you fall asleep to it and it can be seriously draining, but it’s something that many of us live with and have to persevere through, 365 days of the year. However, I’m still here. I’m still trudging along. I haven’t given up yet. So, I guess I have a pretty good amount of perseverance? It’s not until you get through a rough patch that it truly comes into perspective what a hellish period it was. To persevere when your mind feels like it’s against you is tough, it’s really tough, but it proves how strong you are to battle through with it. Life can throw some curveballs at you regardless, so tackling a mental illness on top of that only adds fuel to the fire. So you are seriously strong and awesome for having to deal with that. I’m proud of you, even if you don’t feel proud of yourself. You rock okay. 🙂

These past few months for me have been really hard and I’m so sorry for my lack of activity on here as of late. I know this blog is mainly focused on my fight with OCD, but it’s not the only thing I struggle with. There are several other diagnosis’ that have really knocked me down recently and it’s making things seriously difficult. Consequently, I’ve been unable to write anything coherently or be in the correct mindset to write and it really does chew me up that I’m letting you all down. This blog means the world to me and I want to have it be as useful as possible, but I guess when I’m not that useful at being a human being, I can’t really fake being useful on my blog. So just know that I’m not giving this up, I just need some time to get better again. I would like to try and get to a place in 2016 where I can post roughly once a week, but I can’t promise anything at the moment, but I honestly really will try.

I wish you all a very happy new year and know that 2016 could be the year for something amazing. Don’t underestimate yourself before it has even arrived, anything can happen.

Take care,

-Ellen

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26 thoughts on “What My OCD Has Taught Me

  1. Happy New Year, Ellen!

    At the same time I want to tell you I’ve learnt a lot by reading your blog!

    An OT question from me to you (hope it’s OK, otherwise you can delete my comment). It goes like this: Religious people seem to like rituals. So what do you think about a possible connection between religiosity and OCD? Maybe it’s “easier” for a person suffering from OCD to engage in religious activities? Perhaps all the religious rituals can convey consolation and security to OCD sufferers and religion therefore is experienced as attractive to them?

    What’s your take on that, Ellen? You seem to know a lot about OCD. That’s why I want to ask you for your opinion.

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    1. Thanks! Hmm, tricky one. I think religion and OCD can be a really tricky one. Religion itself has a pretty ritualistic nature at times without OCD even in the picture, so I can see it easily getting entangled and being quite a vicious cycle. I think any ritual could be seen as a comfort, but as we know, only a temporary one. It may be easier possibly? However I think it would probably cause of digress and thus taking back away that aspect of easiness? I’m not sure really. A very good question though! 🙂

      Like

  2. HI Ellen! Please know that your blog helps no matter how frequently you post. Also, know that you are in people’s minds and hearts. I wish you all the best as you deal with the challenges you face in life, currently. Keep writing as you’re able. Most of all, take care of yourself, Ellen. Best, Angie

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m really happy for you, Ellen! My OCD was hell when I was in high school, but I didn’t get diagnosed until I was in college because my parents told me to suck it up. Have you heard of DBT or Dialectical Behavior Therapy? It’s a mix of CBT and mindfulness teachers. 🙂

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    1. Thanks! Gah, that’s the worst but I’m glad you got diagnosed. Yeah! I’ve heard of that before, but I’ve never actually had DBT therapy that I’m aware of. However my therapy is a mix of lots of things, so who knows. I do love mindfulness though. 🙂

      Liked by 3 people

  4. Ellen, you have not let any of us down by not posting. It’s not the quantity of posts, it’s their content, and if you never posted another word (don’t get me wrong, I hope you do!) you will have still succeeded in helping so many people.
    Just put yourself first, do what you need to do, and I will keep you in my thoughts. Wishing you a wonderful 2016 and a happy birthday. What an awesome 17 year old!!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hi Ellen!

    I’ve been suffering from Pure OCD for half a year now and was formally diagnozed by my therapist two months ago. When it was untreated, it caused me so much stress and anxiety that I thought I was going crazy. I was literally afraid of my own thoughts. I knew about OCD, but I wasn’t aware that it can take the form of irrational fears without compulsions.

    Thanks to therapy and self-education on OCD and psychology, with each setback I’m learning more about how my brain works. Now my life is more like what it used to be a year ago, even though I’m far from being symptom-free. Mindfulness and acceptance also help a lot. (“Calm” is a good guided meditation app, by the way!) In therapy, thanks to my skilled counselor I also learned more about myself and now have a chance to work on becoming a better person and living the life I truly value.

    It is a real battle, but we are on the right way. I hope you’ll have a rich and fulfilling 2016. Sending you hugs from Ukraine!

    Max.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi Ellen 🙂 Happy Birthday and Happy New year!
    Your blog is a wonderful thing. Janet is “spot on.” Take care of YOU first, and if you feel like “blogging” that’s fantastic, but if not that is totally fine. You have already touched many lives and helped many people! This thread has reminded me of all I have learned and how it has changed me! And I’m an “old dog” when it comes to battling OCD. I’ve had it for at least 30 years and have been in proper treatment for 25. Thank you for reminding me that one of the big positives about OCD is that you learn a LOT. And you can use that education to help yourself, and most likely other people you meet…for the rest of your life! Being able to help others is an awesome thing. Thank you for reminding me about the benefits of all the education that people with OCD get when they are properly diagnosed and treated!
    Best wishes to you! 🙂
    -Paul

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  7. Hi Ellen
    The things you shared are similar to mine
    But I am taking medicines and thinking to visit therapist
    What do u think about cbt,will it work good??
    Wish u a very happy 2016 and keep fighting ocd….

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      1. Same here
        The only thing that helps us is faith
        We should have faith that the anxiety that occurs is not gonna end if we do compulsions,instead neglecting it will work in our fever..
        Keep fighting

        Like

  8. Dear Ellen,
    You taught me that others are struggling with their lives too. I am in a very unpleasant situation at the moment, one where I have to distress to just stay alive, and fight myself, and those around me involuntarily sometimes. Battling OCD sounds like a great struggle, so I won’t worry about describing how impressed I am…
    ga (https://gooseangie.wordpress.com)

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hey Dear, I can relate with you about your Experience with OCD. Congrats, You’re an OCD Fighter not an OCD sufferer. Sometime OCD try to attack me and Every time it Gets Kick by me. I Want to raise awareness of OCD like you. So I have Created an OCD support forum. Check it out guys:http://ocdforum.in
    Let’s Beat OCD together. All the Best.

    Like

  10. Hey Dear, I can relate with you about your Experience with OCD. Congrats, You’re an OCD Fighter not an OCD sufferer. Sometime OCD try to attack me and Every time it Gets Kick by me. I Want to raise awareness of OCD like you. So I have Created an OCD support forum. Check it out guys:http://ocdforum.in
    Let’s Beat OCD together. All the Best.

    Like

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