* This is the first post I haven't edited... and then re-edited. It's quite a raw piece, I just sat and wrote it straight up and I'd like the writing to reflect that. Please forgive the odd grammatical error or repetition*
There was a time when my OCD raged so out of control that I couldn’t see any kind of future for myself. I was mentally, emotionally and physically beaten by my symptoms and was desperate for a way out.
My life today is much better than that. Why? I think it’s because eventually I had to accept that something was very wrong and that I needed help. I promise you, the overall change that I saw in me, although life changing, did not happen overnight – there is no miracle story here! Instead, it happened with baby steps; one very small tentative baby step after the other. And that’s probably what you’ll find too and that’s absolutely ok… slow and steady wins the race.
You probably won’t need to wait very long to start seeing the positive results either, as recovery isn’t a clear cut ‘before and after’ story. As soon as you start making little inroads into your recovery you turn what was a negative cycle into a positive one. Your recovery will build up over time, with plenty of peaks and troughs along the way, but on an overall upward trajectory.
To me, being healthy and well isn’t about being perfectly free from OCD, it’s about being able to manage the condition enough so that we are free to enjoy our lives. So that we are not suffering the extreme symptoms that drag us down and make life very difficult. We can hope to be totally free of it one day but for now, let’s take the pressure off, and look forward to lessening the symptoms.
Small victories, even just getting up in the morning, lead to more small victories. Showering, getting dressed or making a cup of tea are huge victories if you are in throws of OCD; leaving the house can be a mammoth achievement. Don’t underestimate or play-down how well you have done to achieve those things.
Over time, your achievements will start to stack up, they’ll boost your self-esteem so that failure stops feeling like failure and becomes something of a challenge. You’ll start to believe that you can do it, whatever the target is you've set yourself, and do it well. You will have created a whole bank of new, happier memories that you can pluck out when needed to remind you that you got through it before and you will do it again. You will collect strategy upon strategy to help you when you feel overwhelmed, and will learn who to go to when and if you need additional support in the future. You will start to learn what works for you.
There is nothing in this world more important than you. You deserve to live your life happily and free from the more devastating symptoms of OCD, so please don’t give up. I look at the recovery I’ve made so far and am so pleased I managed to come out of the other side. Remember… baby steps.
I wish you every, every success for your journey and remember you are not alone. There are loads of us going through it together and there is a lot of support out there. Please use it. Even if that support, for you, doesn’t come from immediate friends and family, it can come from a seemingly infinite number of resources elsewhere. I’ll talk about these in future posts too but if you’d like to start now have a look at these ideas here: https://www.tamingolivia.com/contacts.
Keep fighting the good fight, you absolute warrior.