Accepting OCD as part of one’s life is often a challenging part of treatment, but a necessary one. Acceptance does not mean you like something. It is absolutely valid and expected to hate having OCD. There will be times when you have feel angry. There will also be times when you feel life dealt you an unfair hand. However, it’s important to recognize whether you allow yourself to stay in that place or whether you validate those feelings and then shift towards acceptance. When we don’t accept the reality of our situation, the anger and depression we feel as a result often pummels us further into despair and further away from the treatment outcomes we are seeking.
OCD is a chronic condition, but that doesn’t mean you will always experience significant symptoms. The reality of OCD is that it is a chronic condition. However, that does not mean that you will always feel OCD intensely or that you will always have an official diagnosis of OCD. To meet the official diagnostic criteria for OCD you would be need to be engaging in compulsions and as you continue your journey with ERP, you will continue to practice response prevention more frequently and your compulsions will lessen. Intrusive thoughts and feelings will always exist. You will never be able escape that reality as a human. However, your response to them will continue to shift and your ability to recognize intrusive thoughts for what they are, will continue to grow.
OCD treatment will never be “perfect”. It’s not uncommon for people with OCD to have very high expectations of themselves. That can include the desire to perfect OCD treatment and for the outcome of treatment to be “final”. The reality is that you may go in and out of therapy throughout the years as you feel the need for extra support and ERP reminders. A new theme may or may not come along and catch you off guard and during those periods seeing an ERP trained therapist will be helpful. See therapy as a process rather than solely outcome-driven is helpful.
Progress is not linear. Progress is typically a wavy line that generally flows towards improvement in the reduction of compulsions. But it’s rarely a straight path. OCD is a powerful nemesis and stressors in life can impede treatment at times. One’s willingness to see the ups and downs as normal is incredibly important for long term understanding and growth. Progress will never be a straight path to the finish line. Life will throw you curveballs and your confidence will increase that you can cope.
You will not always feel good. It’s not uncommon for people with OCD to have difficulty accepting not feeling “right”. There’s often a desire to hang on to positive feelings and to crave permanence of them. The acceptance of living a life that includes feeling both good and bad (guilty and not guilty, anxious and calm, doubtful and certain, grounded and “off”) is paramount to treatment success. ALL feelings are a part of the human experience and allowing them to come and go as they please without attaching so much power and meaning is important part of treatment.
If you have OCD and are struggling with acceptance and resisting compulsions on your own, reach out to inquire about ERP treatment.