So you’re interested in CBT, but the insurance doesn’t cover you for mental health issues (US) or the waiting list to be seen is astronomically long (UK) and you need help NOW.
First, a little background information. CBT is used not just for OCD or anxiety, but also depression. In clinical studies, CBT has been shown to be just as effective as drugs (when they work) – except the results are longer lasting. Why? Because drugs treat symptoms but not the root of the problem, whereas CBT is all about changing how you think about things.
The basic principal behind OCD CBT is that while we believe our compulsions are going to ease the pain of the obsessions, the truth is: they’re FEEDING the obsessions. The more we act on these compulsions, the more we reinforce the original anxiety/doubt/worry. We’re essentially telling our fears that we believe they are very real and need to be dealt with – and this gives them power.
So, to take a personal example, I used to worry I hadn’t switched on my alarm clock before I went to bed and that I’d oversleep and be late for school. If I managed to believe I’d switched it on, then I’d worry I’d set it for the wrong time. This meant a seemingly endless ritual of checking and rechecking the alarm settings – then worrying that in the process of checking, I’d somehow accidentally changed the settings – and so on and so forth.
The trick was simply to NOT CHECK – and pardon my split infinitive there, but in this case ‘NOT CHECK’ really is the complete verb. I feel a need to say this in order to emphasise the point: it is all about NOT CHECKING.
It has been proven, time and time again, that just at the point when you’ve resisted checking so long that you feel like you’re going to collapse from anxiety…right at the peak, if we were to plot anxiety on a graph…gradually that anxiety will start to drop, drop, drop – until it’s GONE.
Trust me. I didn’t believe it either, but I’ve felt it happen so many times, you just have to trust my experience. And if you want to CHECK…why not try it yourself?
But a word of caution: START SMALL!! These anxieties are so overpowering, it would be dangerous to start with your biggest worries. So don’t plunge right into the deep end and try to combat your ‘I’m terrified I might throw myself in front of a car’ fears. For now, just concentrate on the little things – like my alarm clock issues.
Another note to add is that I won’t pretend CBT cures OCD. The whole point of this condition is that it is medical and lifelong, with no known cure. But does it provide tools with which to fight each new obsession as it comes along and make things manageable? In my experience, yes, absolutely.
If you need any help or want to ask any questions, I (Vrinda) am happy to assist, as I really believe in CBT but know it’s a long, hard journey doing it alone. Just click the ‘Contact’ tab at the top of the website.
If you would like a book to help you go through CBT and learn about it in more detail, check out ‘Brain Lock’ or ‘Overcoming Obsessive Thoughts’.
If you haven’t already, then be sure to subscribe to this blog to learn more insider experiences and information.
Editor & Founder of Conditional Publications
Click below to order Check Mates, the first ever collection of fiction poetry and artwork about OCD