I’m going to continue sharing some of my older posts for the next several weeks. This one is from November 2011:
Most experts agree that it is time to seek treatment for OCD when the disorder “interferes with your daily life.” While “interfering” can mean different things to different people, it is generally described as having obsessions and compulsions that take up more than an hour a day of your time.
While a lot has been written about recovery avoidance in OCD, what I’m talking about here are cases of OCD that are not so severe. Many sufferers and their families will avoid even discussing treatment because it appears that the situation is just not ”that bad.” Of course, because OCD sufferers can be so good at hiding their symptoms, they are often the only ones who know the real extent of their disorder.
To me, before things get “that bad” is a perfect time to seek treatment and get started on Exposure and Response Prevention therapy. The less entrenched OCD is, the easier therapy will be. OCD rarely goes away on its own, and the longer treatment is delayed, the more time OCD will have to latch on to its victim, making recovery even more difficult in the future. Remember that OCD is an insidious disorder that does whatever it can to undermine the sufferer’s desire to get well.
The decision to seek treatment for OCD is sometimes shrouded by fear, shame, and embarrassment, and it may just seem “easier” all around to ignore what is going on. I think this is a huge mistake. If you suspect you have OCD, are concerned about a loved one, or aren’t really sure what’s going on, please make the effort to find a therapist who specializes in this disorder. The sooner the better, because it might not take long for “I can handle this” to turn into OCD calling all the shots.
I like the Globe Assessment of Functioning as a guide line for whenever visited by what seems to be a mental health issue. Many of us have symptoms, the question needs to be asked where do they lead.
It troubles me that many dx are not based on all the Axis.
Thanks for sharing Katherine. I’m not familiar with the Globe Assessment of Functioning.
When I read that interfering with your daily life was when it took up more than an hour a day, I had to laugh (sadly). I remember when OCD took up hours a day, most of the day. I wish I had gotten treatment sooner. I agree that it’s best to get started with treatment before things get worse. So many of us don’t do that though.
Thanks for sharing, Tina. I think many people just forge ahead when things are “manageable.” As a child, also, you are reliant on parents or caregivers to determine if/when you need help. I’m sorry you didn’t get treatment earlier, but I know your willingness to share has encouraged others to seek treatment earlier than they otherwise might have.
I cannot agree more! I hid my symptoms until I just couldn’t hide them anymore. I suspect that is the case with most people. If the symptoms are showing, I bet it’s because they run a lot deeper. Even after my symptoms became visible, it was YEARS before those around me truly understood the extreme depth of the OCD. I’ll never forget it. It was only a few years ago one day when my husband and I were watching tv for a few hours, I mentioned to him that almost the entire time I had been obsessing/mentally compulsing about stuff while we sat there. He was stunned. He asked, “For almost this WHOLE time you’ve had thoughts running through your head?” He had no idea just how much the tentacles of OCD had taken hold of my brain. I was stunned that he hadn’t figured that out by then! But I realize now, how could he? He didn’t have OCD, and unless I specifically explained it to him, there would be no other way for him to know.
I encourage everyone to get help as soon as they realize they have a problem with anxiety. When I finally went for help, I thought I had a mild-mild/moderate problem. I was stunned to learn it was severe. We are not always very good judges of the level of our dysfunction.
Thanks for your wise words, Sunny. I agree that we are not always good judges of ourselves. Those who have suffered for a long time might forget what “normal” really is, and think they are not really that bad off. As for not understanding the depths of OCD, I’ve always felt that it’s next to impossible for those of us without the disorder to truly understand what it’s like. Of course that doesn’t mean we can’t be supportive. Thanks for sharing!
can you help a teen who refuses to see a therapist but needs a lot of reassurance?
Of course I don’t know your teen’s story, and I’m not a therapist, so I can’t give you any advice regarding your specific situation. However, asking for reassurance is a compulsion, and when that reassurance is received (typically from friends and family who are just trying to make their loved one feel better), the OCD is strengthened. Perhaps you could talk with a therapist who specializes in OCD yourself, to get some guidance as to how you should deal with your teen and encourage him/her to get treatment. Good luck!
Your reply was quick and helpful! Thank you very much.