January 21, 2012

OCD and the Serenity Prayer

“God Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
The courage to change the things I can,
And the wisdom to know the difference.”

I can’t believe how much this poem resonates with me these days – in so many areas of my life.  I’ve been struggling for the last few days.  Let me first say that my PMS is at its peak – I am expecting my period any day now and heavens – I hope it gets here soon.  I feel pretty yucky.  It’s amazing how difficult it can be to fight my compulsions during this time.  I really do feel like a dark cloud has descended on my brain....definitely SOMETHING has changed in my brain.  I also think that my obsessions are so much stronger and more frequent during this time too.  UGH.  It really frustrates me that it is impossible to take a break from OCD.  Even during difficult times.....times when the last thing you want to do is make your anxiety (or mood) worse.....the only thing to do is turn towards the fear.  I haven’t been doing that this week.  OCD also never ceases to amaze me in the way that it can insidiously sneak into my life so quickly, and without me noticing.  The next thing you know – I feel crappy, and the thoughts are going, going, going in my mind, with no reprieve.  My motivation and resolve has sucked.  But the Serenity Prayer says it all.  I can’t change my thoughts.  All I can do is accept them. 
Someone I follow on Twitter said something today that really makes sense to me:
"I think the trick is to work on extending the number of good days between bad OCD days until there are hardly any, if any, bad days at all!"
Lord, I wish I could get there!!!!  The problem for me is that things just seem to go off the rails during PMS time, and PMS is something I just can't control.  Today I wondered if I will always have bad OCD days for a couple of weeks out of the month.  Maybe I won't ever be one of those people who can go months feeling OCD-free.  That notion really depresses me. 
Another Pure OCD’er wrote something very poignant on one of her blog posts the other day, and I hope she doesn’t mind that I quote her:

“No matter how clear you are seeing things on the good days, and no matter how much you know your OCD notions are ridiculous on these days – OCD will show its face again at some point in time, and no matter what kind of clarity you were feeling in the past, everything will become blurry and clouded again.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself.  The frustrating thing is that I KNOW I’ve made progress.  I can’t tell you the things I’ve faced, the things I do now that I would never have done a year ago.  But still, somehow, OCD manages to take over, and the feeling is EXACTLY the same.  Do I find this fact discouraging?  Yes.  Do I find this fact frustrating?  Absolutely. 

The Serenity Prayer is also very applicable to my current situation with my family.  Though I haven’t spoken to anyone in my family since “the incident”, obviously I have spent some time thinking about it.  I’ve wondered whether I WANT to have a relationship with my father – given his nature, and the way he treats me.  Part of this whole scenario is accepting him for who he is.  He isn’t likely to change.  Given that information – what type (if any) of relationship would be healthy for me?  It sure seems extreme to completely cut my entire family out of my life, but right now, that seems like the only option.  So....I am lonely.  I’m lonely because I don’t have people around me – in my close vicinity who love me.  I’m lonely because I have to accept that I will probably never get what I need from my family.

I’ve got an opportunity to go on a date.  And then the ROCD sets off – already!!!!  I start thinking about my ex, and whether or not we have hope for a future.  I start analyzing whether or not I really like the “new” guy.  Is now a good time for me to be dating?  What if I don’t find him attractive when we meet?  What if, what if, what if!!!!  Three weeks ago I would have taken on all of this stuff with conviction and a gusto.  Today, not so much.  I’m going to go on the date, because that’s what fits with my values – meeting new people, having opportunities for close friendships, and even maybe someday an intimate relationship again.  I just wish I could be excited about it – like “normal” people would be. 


  1. I'm sorry you're feeling lousy and lonely. You know it's really ok if you feel like you can't fight the OCD with as much energy as usual. Our thoughts may not take a break from the OCD, but sometimes our bodies need to. (If that makes any sense.) I really love the serenity prayer too. I've only recently really understood what it means. It seems like you are being very hard on yourself today. Can you take some time tomorrow to do something fun and enjoyable? It sounds like you need a fun break. Hope you feel better soon.

  2. I'm sorry this is a tough time. PMS is such a bummer. Does your doctor have any ideas of things that might help the PMS, which in turn might help the OCD? Even nutritional changes?

    I'm glad you're not losing sight of what you've accomplished. That's so important.

    Hope you are feeling better soon. Keep saying the Serenity Prayer--it hels me too!

  3. Acceptance is really hard. The prayer hits a chord with me too. I may not be able to stop OCD thoughts, I may not be able to control anxiety all of the time, but, I can work on how I react to both of these things. I say, just go on the date. If the thoughts come, the thoughts come. Someone once told me that waiting for motivation was like waiting for a miracle. Act first and motivation will follow. Granted this a response to me not feeling like going to the gym, but I think it applies to a lot of areas in life. I'm excited for you!

  4. I'm sorry you are having such a tough time right now. I also have always liked The Serenity Prayer.....I think it speaks to a lot of people, with or without OCD. Good for you for going on the date.....if you're not excited, we'll all be excited for you, as Purely OCD Me says!

  5. this too shall pass, this too shall pass...

    Hang in there Pure O. I'm sorry you're not feeling well right now. I like the serenity prayer also. Have fun on your date. Remind your anxious self that it's only hanging out with a guy. You're not proposing to him or anything yet...i hope ;). Keep practising as best as you can. even little steps go a long way to building strength.

    I know how hard it is to not have parents who are there for you as you'd like. Do you have a stuffed animal or a real animal to cuddle? How about journaling your feelings so they are out of you?

    ((HUGS)) here's to a better tomorrow.

  6. First off, definitely don't have a problem with your quote..glad it helped :)

    I think you and I are walking on a pretty similar path right now *FRUSTRATED* That nagging cloud that looms overhead everywhere you go. BUT, just have to stay positive and continue working on the things we need to in order to find those days of clarity again. Hang in there. As always, you're not alone.

    Also, I am going to the doctor on Friday and am going to discuss some options for PMS to see if there is anything I can do to make those days easier. I'll keep you updated.

  7. Thanks everyone for your *excitement* and support! I've set the date - next Thursday - one day after my therapy session. Hehe. Now that I've committed I'm feeling "OK" about it.
    Karin - I have a wonderful real, live Goldendoodle that is the light of my life. Honestly, there are some days when I wouldn't know what to do without her. She's an awesome companion!!!
    Tina - I've been working on some nutritional changes which hopefully, in the longer run will help with the PMS. I've been exercising more too.