Recovery from OCD is possible
Isn't this the question we have with anything we want to go away in our life? How long will I have this? This question can cause a lot of anxiety to think about and bring a lot of comfort. It all depends on what mindset you have.
To jump right into it, recovering from OCD depends on many factors. Do I have the right tools and am using the right treatment? Am I actually using the treatment often? Do I have a strong foundation for therapy?
For many, treatment can be relatively quick. Individuals can feel better sooner, while others it may take longer. It also depends on the severity of symptoms. It's already infiltrated itself into your day, we might as well do something with it.
I almost hesitate to give a specific number because I do not want you to be your timeline because your timeline is YOURS. Here is what I've heard many specialists suggest their own research. Many can expect to feel recovered between 12-20 therapy sessions and can see a clinically significant decrease in OCD symptoms. Others give a timeline of 2 months. Personally in my own practice, I've seen individuals for a few weeks and others a couple of years. There is not that magical formula that fits each person, but I'll share with you what I see as a standard for individuals getting better quicker.
-Using exposure and response prevention the correct way.
-Building an exposure hierarchy to help you face your fears in a gradual way
-Doing these exposures daily and when I mean daily I don't mean 1x a day. I mean, making it your part-time job. It could be hours.
-Simply put. You've got to stop doing compulsions. Even if you're feeling anxiety.
-Your focus must be on recovery. It needs to take priority.
-You must accept the anxiety, fears, doubt, and guilt and decide they bring no more value into your life. You can't be wishy-washy. "I'll accept this fear, but have to figure out this one."
All these things are taught in my online OCD course. I'll link it here. You can even try it for free.
Ultimately, who's going to get better quicker. The person who knows the tools and will do them every once in a while or the person who's dedicated themselves to recovery. They recognize the pitfalls, where they can improve and use resources around them.
I do want you to know that you can recover from OCD. Things can get better. I also want you to have realistic expectations of what "recovery" means. For some, it may mean they are feeling minimal symptoms. For others, they've reduced symptoms up to 60% and are okay with that. Others may not feel symptoms for weeks, months, years. But here's the deal, this doesn't happen by doing treatment for a few months and then be golden for years to come. It's something you work on to maintain the progress that you've made. So when you hear others say online, "I am recovered" keep this in mind.
Here is the most important thing. Your recovery is your own. Your timeline is your own. If you do get caught up in, "how long will this take" you may give yourself an answer like, "it takes as long as it takes and I've accepted this."
I want you to get on top of this, you need to go right now watch the 25 tips for succeeding in your own OCD here.
Thanks so much for watching and I'll see you next time.
What recovery looks like for OCD
The truth about OCD recovery
Emotional Contamination OCD
Did you know that someone with OCD can feel contaminated by a simple thought? A thought like, if I associate with people I perceive as "dumb" I will become dumb myself. Not only that, but they have to do many rituals to get rid of this mental and emotional contamination.
What is emotional contamination and how is it treated? That's what today's video is all about.
Well, you've probably heard of plain old contamination. Touching things that appear contaminated, these are all physical objects that enter someone's life. When it comes to emotional contamination, it's very different. This same feeling of contamination is often felt is all because of an association their brain put on something. Individuals will often get triggered by a thought, image or memory associated with an individual.
These things that make them feel contaminated can be an illness someone has or talks about or an individual that they know and dislike their traits. The key here is association. This subtype of OCD really attacks who they are and ruining their possible future.
For instance, someone may have all these goals of becoming a doctor. They have their classes ready to go, they have all the plans for the future. You know what would ruin this for them? If they couldn't pass their classes. If they just weren't smart enough. So the brain takes this value and says, well you know what. Jimmy struggled with this class and doesn't use proper grammar when he talks. If you talk or hang out with him, you will become like him. You are now contaminated. The only way to get this imaginary contaminant to go away is for you to do some compulsions.
It comes up with ideas; for sure don't hang out with Jimmy. Don't even say his name. Any association with him is dangerous. It's not going to get me to where I want to be.
Emotional contamination can show up with really any association. I could see a news report talking about the homeless population and its link to drug addiction. The news anchor was wearing yellow and standing under a tree. So now, my brain says, if I wear yellow, I'm in danger of being addicted to drugs. If I stand under a tree, it's possible my life will lead me to becoming homeless. Even seeing others around you wearing yellow triggers this contaminated feeling. It's more than something like magical thinking OCD (take a look at that video by the way). With magical thinking there is a superstitious thought, with emotional contamination it's a feeling.
It's a gross/yucky feeling. You think of touching something you know is gross and you immediately want to wash your hands. Imagine this inside you body, you want to do anything you can to cleanse yourself of this.
The compulsions individuals do really can be anything their brain tells them to do. Avoidance is a big one. I'm not even going to go there, see those people, watch shows, use social media, and even use words associated. It can be various rituals, washing hands, showering, or saying certain phrases over and over again.
We treat this just like any other subtype of OCD. With exposure and response prevention. That uncomfortable feeling essentially must be tolerated and responded to differently. For instance, the name Jimmy makes me feel contaminated, I know think I'll become dumb. I'm going to start looking at picture of Jimmy, hanging out with him, going online and searching anything I can about Jimmy. I may be writing his name out over and over again. I may be saying, "yep, I may or may not become dumb" -- That internal yucky feeling will be there, but it can't last forever. We're responding differently. Some may say, "man, I love this feeling" "I hope it lasts all day." I may be focusing on whatever the ultimate threats are. I may be using poor grammar on purpose. Sitting under that tree that makes me worried. Watching videos of the homeless population. Accepting uncertainty and breaking these associations by not engaging in the rumination or feeling that comes with it. Ultimately, doing the opposite of what my OCD tells me to do. Don't think about this phrase, I'm going to think about it. Don't wear yellow or else. I'm wearing yellow.
The brain needs to learn that you're the boss. You can handle anything and any feeling that comes your way.
Emotional contamination can feel similar to superstitious or magical thinking ocd. Watch that one here.
Also, if you've struggled with this before, let me know in the comments.
Magical Thinking OCD
Treatment for Emotional Contamination OCD
Nathan Peterson, LCSW
OCD can be tricky! I want to provide useful information for your OCD, anxiety, tics, tourette's, BFRBs, and many other anxiety related disorders.