March 1, 2011

Starting from the "OCD" Beginning

This past week has been the best that I’ve had in a LONG time.  I’d like to say it was due to a great session with my therapist.  But – really – with OCD – who knows????  I did have a little “epiphany” during my therapy session though, and it made me very thankful for starting, once again, at the “beginning”. 
As someone who has spent several years in therapy, and gone through MANY Cognitive Behavioural Therapists, I thought that I had become an expert in recognizing Cognitive Distortions.  I’ve read so many books on Cognitive Therapy for depression, self-esteem and OCD.  In fact, when I entered therapy with my new therapist, I clearly let him know that the cognitive portion of CBT had started to become part of my ritualizing.  I wanted to STEER FAR AWAY from addressing Cognitive Distortions.  Wow – was I wrong.  (Now I actually think that the problem was with the therapists who didn’t know how to properly apply the cognitive portion of CBT to OCD.)  During my last session, we reviewed Cognitive Distortions as they apply to OCD.  It was the first time I had read examples of how thinking errors apply to OCD THINKING, and it is VERY DIFFERENT, yet also interestingly similar.  Most importantly, I started looking at my thinking errors differently (or – perhaps noticing different thinking errors?).  Maybe the difference is so slight that I can’t even articulate it, but it has made a HUGE difference. 
I also have to commend my therapist, who has an uncanny ability to recognize and challenge my thinking errors as they relate to OCD.  He directly CHALLENGES my thinking – something I have needed from my therapists for a long time, but have not received until now. 
We also discussed the notion of the idea “a thought is just a thought”.  That it doesn’t necessarily have any inherent meaning – unless I choose to give it some meaning, or unless it is backed with values that I hold.  This notion is something that I really struggle with.  My OCD can always find ways to challenge this notion (Surprised?  OCD will find any way possible to survive – won’t it?) with thoughts like:  But what’s the difference between my OCD thoughts and other thoughts?  How do I know which thoughts to listen to?”  And – the big one “But doesn’t the fact that I get so anxious/uncomfortable when I have these thoughts mean something?”  (This is where my epiphany came in.)  My therapist very eloquently explained this whole idea of thoughts, their meaning, feelings behind them etc.  He did it in a way that made me suddenly have an “AHA!” moment. 
These concepts are so new to me that I feel as though I’m holding onto something very fragile that I could “lose” at any moment.  I’m certain that it will take me reviewing it all a few more times in my therapy sessions before I fully grasp it all.  (My OCD is trying very hard to survive after all!!) But as I become more comfortable with what I am learning/realizing, I will try to impart some of my knowledge.    
I’m so happy to report that I think I am actually moving forward.  I’m LEARNING things, and it’s starting to make sense to me.  I have someone who help me learn how to outsmart the OCD bully. 
I’m so glad I started (once again) at the very beginning.    


  1. Yay. I'm glad things are starting well!

  2. That sounds great! It's so sad that there aren't more really good therapists out there.

  3. So glad to hear that you feel like you are making progress and that your new therapist really seems to be helping! :)

  4. Thanks everyone! I had a good week with a few little hiccups in the last couple of days - but I suppose that is to be expected with recovering.
    Ann - I totally agree.
    Fellow - we miss your posts!!

  5. Yes, OCD wants to survive, and perpetuate itself! I'm glad your therapist gets that! Because it was a concept that really helped me. I know that fear that I will "lose" the insight--from all my experiences of losing insight in the past to a wave of OCD fear, but we can learn new things. It is possible!

  6. Expwoman - yes! My therapist definitely talks about how OCD wants to survive! I'm still practicing remembering that though! For the first time in a long time I've had glimmers of hope - which is so important!!!