I see the term “OCD toolbox” being used quite a bit these days. I like it. Just as personifying OCD allows us to view the disorder as separate from the OCD sufferer, the OCD toolbox gives us a way to group together everything that might be helpful in fighting obsessive-compulsive disorder. OCD is often complicated, so I’m for anything that helps sufferers and their loved ones better understand, and battle, the disorder.
So what goes into an OCD toolbox? For young children, actual objects might be helpful. Stress balls, as well as favorite toys, puzzles, and stuffed animals, may provide comfort, or at the very least a distraction, when OCD is taking hold. Older children, teens, and adults might benefit from listening to their favorite CD’s, reviewing helpful books on dealing with OCD, or reading inspirational poems. For some, medication will be in their toolbox.
In addition to these concrete items, healthy eating, exercising, meditation, and getting enough sleep are important elements of the OCD toolbox. And while everyone’s toolbox will be different, the most important components, in my opinion, are proper therapy and a competent therapist. Exposure Response Prevention Therapy is the frontline treatment for OCD and an essential part of all OCD toolboxes.
While OCD toolboxes can overflow with helpful items, it’s extremely difficult for OCD sufferers to do all the necessary “repairs” on their own, and they shouldn’t have to. Blogs, forums, and support groups can be valuable, but don’t compare to the support, acceptance, and love of family and friends. As I’ve mentioned many times before, those of us who do not suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder cannot truly understand how torturous and debilitating it can be. We need to acknowledge the severity of this disorder and learn everything we can about it so that we can be powerful additions to our loved one’s OCD toolboxes. It could make all the difference in the world.
So good, so true. I feel so blessed to have found a competent cognitive-behavioral therapist, but I know that not everyone is so lucky. I wonder if there is some kind of preliminary checklist out there that sufferers can use to “screen” potential therapists.
I felt terrible that one of my OCD friends went to a therapist who said he knew about CBT … but my friend ended up knowing more about CBT than the therapist did, just from reading my blog and my story.
Have you heard of anything like that, Janet? Screening questions? If not, maybe I should try to come up with something.
You are right, Jackie. Not everyone is so lucky. The IOCDF has a list of questions to ask when searching for a therapist:
I hope your friend finds help!
He’s a college student, so he decided to wait till his summer break and go to MY therapist. SO GOOD!
Great post, Janet. You list a lot of good things, especially ERP and a competent therapist, that can fit into the toolbox. And thanks for mentioning the importance of strong support from family and friends. It can mean the world.
Thanks, Tina. I agree….support from loved ones is so important.
Pinned you. Thank you for all the good you do, including supporting my efforts to share and care.
Thank YOU, Katherine!
I love this post, Janet!!! I happen to like stress toys to squeeze when I’m stressed. Believe it or not (you’re gonna think I’m crazy!!) I actually like stuffed animals too. ha ha I’m a very touchy/feely type of person, and when my kitty doesn’t want to be hugged, sometimes I will hug a stuffed animal! OK – I’ve just officially announced my craziness! But hey, it helps with stress. And you are so right – there are many different things in each person’s tool box, but the core needs to be CBT/ERP.
You’re so funny, Sunny. Of course I don’t think you’re crazy….I think you’re honest! You’ll see… Now all of the closet stuffed animal huggers will come forward to thank you. Hey, if hugging stuffed animals helps with stress, why not? You could be doing a lot worse things!
I like how you listed some of the things in a toolbox, particularly things for helping the toolbox owner calm down, like stress toys. I have a rubber Koala squishy toy in my purse for when I get anxious and have to sit through a speech or something… My counselor gave me a sea shell to serve the same purpose, and it is significantly less embarrising and I don’t feel like I have to hide it from the pastor like I did my brilliant green koala. But anyway, I forgot that calming myself down and tools to do that were part of my toolkit; I tend to focus on ERP and on the tools for going on an offensive attack against OCD when I think about toolkits, but all of it is important.
I agree, Abigail; all the toolkit items are important. And I’d sure like to see that brilliant green koala of yours….it sounds awesome 🙂
Hi I believe im dealing with ocd and its scary because I have unwanted thoughts I would never do or have courage to do weather its harm my self or loved ones around me my question is how do you deal with it how do you get these unwanted thoughts out I read I write I watch videos even read about how others cope with it to know I’m not alone I just want to think normal and not feel like I’m crazy because I’m not. I recently had surgery on my foot and haven’t really done my normal activities and not working because I have to heal and I’m on crutches but ill be walking soon. I just pray the horrible thoughts go away I just wanna move on from them because it its good to live in fear because of unwanted or untrue thoughts I’m getting through and know there is hope out there waiting for to grab it and take my life back…
Hi Angela, Thank you for sharing and I’m sorry you have been suffering so much. You talk about wanting your horrible thoughts to go away, but we have no control over what thoughts come into our minds. What we can control is our reaction to our thoughts and that’s something a good OCD therapist can help you with. You might find this post helpful: https://ocdtalk.wordpress.com/2015/11/08/ocd-thoughts-or-just-thoughts/
If you have not sought professional help I strongly encourage you to do so as soon as possible, because OCD is highly treatable with ERP therapy. You don’t have to suffer. Please keep in touch as you move forward and let me know how things are going.