You’ve Beaten OCD – Now What?

A version of this post first appeared on my blog in July 2016…..

For many people, the journey through obsessive-compulsive disorder and back to good health is a long one. Getting the correct diagnosis, or even just recognizing you have OCD, often takes years. Then comes the search for appropriate treatment, followed by a long-term commitment to therapy and hard work. We know recovery is possible, but it is rarely a “quick fix.”

I try to imagine what it must feel like, after being controlled by OCD for so long, to finally have your life back? Relief. Gratitude. Excitement!

Yes, but for many, also add trepidation and confusion, with a helping of uncertainty.

What do I do NOW?

Living with a good-sized case of obsessive-compulsive disorder can be a full- time job. Obsessions, compulsions, more compulsions, getting stuck, avoidance, more compulsions, planning your next move, more compulsions – it can literally take up all your time. When my son Dan’s OCD was severe, OCD was all he “did” day in and day out. It truly stole his life.

And yet, it’s not hard to understand that when you’ve performed compulsions for such a long time, they can become comfortable and familiar – not unlike a security blanket.

So when you finally get your life back, it can be disorienting and scary. You might even feel anxious about feeling well because you’re not used to feeling that way and don’t know how to handle not being a slave to OCD. What do you do with all this free time? How can you be sure to live that happy, productive life you’ve worked so hard to reclaim?

I have heard from quite a few people who have faced this issue, and it’s not unusual for OCD to try to worm its way back into their lives. All the uncertainty about what’s to come can be a ripe breeding ground for OCD. In addition, those with the disorder might start to obsess about how they think they are supposed to feel, or maybe even wonder if they ever really had OCD in the first place?

Hopefully, those who have made it this far in their battle will recognize OCD if it rears its ugly head and see it for what it is – a big bully trying to regain control. They will respond appropriately by just acknowledging the anxiety, not giving it any additional attention, and then continuing on with their lives. Of course, one of the best ways to keep OCD at bay is by continuing to use exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy.

Back to the question of “What do I do NOW?” the answer is clear. You live your life the way YOU want to, not the way OCD wants you to. You identify your goals and work toward them within the framework of your values. What do you want out of life? While to some people the answers are obvious, others might need guidance to help figure out their fresh path. A good therapist can be invaluable.

Let’s get back to those feelings of Relief. Gratitude. Excitement! Because for all those whose lives are now unencumbered by OCD, anything is possible. Your hopes and dreams really can come true!

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9 Responses to You’ve Beaten OCD – Now What?

  1. Tsaheylu says:

    Thank you for this article. I am not there yet but aspire to be like this:

    “I try to imagine what it must feel like, after being controlled by OCD for so long, to finally have your life back?”

    You mention the insecurity that freedom may bring. As an ADD’er I can relate to the”cognitive overload and anxiety” I can get it. I have not been diagnosed with OCD..but I do feel quite I prisoned by the tendencies.. more than I’d like to admit to myself😛

    One of the challenges for getting diagnostic clarity and proper treatment for whatever is going on. With ADD in the mix..I seem to be bouncing around in the system..getting nowhere. Some meds one might use for OCD make the ADHD worse..and vice versa. I am an exasperating patient (although I am a strong self advocate with a desire for wellness).

    So with ADD present..and not aptly treated..the cognitive anxiety..sensory overload may be reinforcing the OCD perhaps?

    What do you think? Where is the leverage point…access point for liberation from the prison of rumination and anxiety?

    Get my life back? Where do I sign up? Lol ☺

    • Hi Tsaheylu, Thanks so much for sharing. In my son’s case, he was misdiagnosed with ADD in addition to his OCD diagnosis, and the results were disastrous (I’ve written about this on my blog and it’s also detailed in my book). I totally agree with you that the first thing you need is a proper diagnosis, and then a good therapist will know how to best help you. Maybe check out this article and possibly even email the experts mentioned who could likely steer you in the right direction:
      Good luck and i hope to hear from you again.

      • Tsaheylu says:

        Thanks for your reply..and the article link!
        Yes, the 2 conditions seem to overlap or resemble each other at a glance.

        It would be nice to “peak inside one’s head and see if the common part of the brain is overactive or underactive.”

        I tend to be “oversensitive or hyper-aware” of physical symptoms..and tend to get caught in rumination over them…like a pit bull latching onto a stick😬 It would be so nice to feel comforatble in my own skin. Somatically…and mentally. Noisy brain? Uggh its like 5 radio stations going…tinnitus..and because of a car accident 20 years ago..I started getting some degenerative issues in cervical vertabrae..which caused a lot of headaches and body aches..which was diagnosed as fibromyalgia. But I don’t think the ADHD/OCD stuff started there…its always been. I just found the obsessive/ruminations really kicked up a few years ago in the germaphobia sense. THAT is a nightmare trip that hasn’t abated.

        I do yoga…look after myself…don’t do drugs or drink…I try to stay healthy…but this brain or patterning..whatever it is makes life really tough.

        I have seen 1 psychiatrist..but neither spent more than 20 minutes talking with me..then fired off a diagnosis..said likely ADHD..with “panic” disorder. Tried me on vyvanse…and it was not good. Concerta seemed to help my mood and focus..but spiked my blood pressure. Amitryptaline, Nortryptaline stole my motivation and I felt like a zombie. I can’t go anywhere near stuff like Cymbalta..SNRI’s are just awful..speed my brain way too much.

        So I’ve tried different things. I just try basic things..try to meditate..pray…yoga…I use St. John’s Wort, Vit D and Homeopathy in winter because it all seems worse atbthisntime of year.

        Its not all bad…I’m a pretty creative person..spiritual base…in have a good education…yet I am not free to live as I wish…yet.

        I have a strong suspicion there is a genetic component perhaps. Granparent and other relatives are same.

        I appreciate your feedback and suggestions!



      • Just wondering if you have ever been evaluated for OCD? If you do have the disorder, ERP therapy can help you out……..

  2. E says:

    Sounds great! Where do I sign up? Haha. Your healing gives me hope.

  3. Rachel says:

    I love this article. Our son just got out of a residential treatment facility and it’s amazing to see him happy again!

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