**Trigger warning, mention of suicide.
Today I feel like I’m having a good day. Perhaps the best day I’ve had in a very long time. Nothing special has happened, nothing particularly exciting – it’s just a normal day. And yet I almost feel like my old self.
The last two months have been so bad. My obsessive thoughts have been in overdrive and they’ve literally stopped me from living. I haven’t wanted to go out and socialise in case something set me off, so I just decided to avoid everyone and everything that I saw as a potential trigger. I’ve avoided certain films, TV shows, friends, food – basically anything that my mind perceived as a threat. It was driving me insane – as soon as I woke up I felt the weight of anxiety on my chest, ready to suffocate me for another day. I haven’t been enjoying life at all. Food is for me to live, TV is to occupy my brain, seeing my boyfriend is to make me try and feel normal.
I have to put feeling ok today down to what I listened to and read yesterday. I’ve been searching different sites and blogs about how to deal with OCD, and whilst they do offer some helpful tips, I didn’t feel like any of them really got how I was feeling, explained the thoughts I was having.
Until I came across this particular YouTube video with Dr Fred Penzel. After watching it I genuinely felt a slight shift in my mood; I was intrigued and wanted to know more. So I found Dr Penzel’s website and I read a report on one of his patients and suddenly it all looked a lot different to me – this mental health issue that has been the devil on my shoulder.
With OCD, you tend to ignore and hide the thoughts because often they’re intrusive, complicated and alien to you. They make you feel confused and ashamed and in all honesty, they sometimes make you want to die. That’s where certain rituals come into play – they’re our thoughts that have been made into controllable physical movements. But what Dr Penzel explains is that you shouldn’t try to stop those thoughts you are having, you should accept them for what they are; come to terms with them and even agree with them. I wanted to laugh at this because all I’ve been doing the last few months is punishing myself for my unwanted thoughts that have been haunting me.
Dr Penzel says that we should live those thoughts, let them become real until we are bored with them. What we don’t realise is that we do not have control of these thoughts – we think we do, which is why we punish ourselves but the reality is we have no control. That’s why it’s never ending, because it’s out of our control. So to actually face up to the thoughts and accept you’re having them (not necessarily why you’re having them) make it all seem a little less scary. Because what you’re doing is taking hold of those thoughts and telling them ‘you don’t have any power, you don’t define me, you are not me‘. It’s then that you take control – you learn to understand that these obsessions are not who you are. They are your fears, your worries, your insecurities, all packaged together and sold to us as OCD. They’re the regimented actions and feelings we feel we have to obey in order to rid ourselves of the obsessive thoughts.
I could wake up tomorrow and feel awful again, or I could wake up and have another ‘good’ day. But either way I have come to realise that I shouldn’t hide from my fears, because ignoring them will not get rid of them. To face your fears is to truly conquer them.