How My Journey of Recovery Started
After being officially diagnosed with OCD as an adult, I realized that I’ve struggled with it all my life. I have a feeling many people who have OCD can relate. While there was a sense of relief in receiving a diagnosis, the prospect of treatment and next steps was overwhelming.
As I navigate my journey through recovery, I am continually amazed at the strength and perseverance of the OCD community. There is a wealth of resources out there that can be self-guided, utilized in community with a group, or performed with a therapist.
Getting Strength from Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)
I still have much to learn, but one type of therapy that resonates with me is Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT). ACT has taught me that I do not have to fight the thoughts I have. I do not have to be ashamed of them, or ashamed of myself. I can accept these thoughts as a part of me while still committing to my values, to what makes me engaged in the present moment, to what makes me more in tune with the miraculous and fleeting gift of being alive.
Why waste that beautiful gift on “living” in a perceived and fearful future or past? I know all too well that accepting and committing to our values is easier said than done, even for folks who do not have OCD. To those of you who do have OCD, never underestimate the depth of strength and empathy you possess.
How Grief Work Works for Me
An “off-label” resource that has been invaluable to my recovery is grief work. Grief is a natural part of living that comes up in big and small, singular and chronic, heart-wrenching and slow band-aid-ripping ways. It is an emotion that our modern, Western culture tends to shun – we’re a people who believe in pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps and “moving on” as quickly as possible.
By allowing myself to sit with a chronic mental illness and other losses in my life, I have learned how necessary allowing space for grief is. Having a good cry and sitting with sorrow can leave me feeling replenished and renewed to face the challenges of each day. Experiencing the full spectrum of my emotions brings into greater contrast the small moments of joy and sweetness.
Give it a try! Allow yourself room to sit in any emotion as it arises, let it crash over you like a wave, and then watch the power of its tide recede. It
might be back tomorrow, but for today see if you can feel it fully, and then let it go.
There is Hope
My journey has taught me that living with a derailing mental illness does not necessarily have a silver lining, but it does afford a certain opportunity to fully immerse oneself in not taking the mundane for granted. Sitting with a hot cup of coffee in the morning, listening to the rain, snuggling with a pet, or hearing gravel crunch under your shoes…any moment of simply existing in the present, no matter how small, is an accomplishment.