Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Overcompensating for OCD

So much about living with OCD is about not doing what our minds tell us we have to do. If I listened to mine all the time, I'd have to check that I haven't offended a friend. I'd have to apologize again.

I'd have to get the medical test done to make sure I'm healthy. I'd have to explain myself repeatedly to make sure I'm understood.

If not, anxiety and panic ensue. But when I get in a rhythm of saying no to my mind, it can actually be satisfying to deprive myself of this pressure.

It's part of why Exposure and Response Prevention works for some people: We expose ourselves to what makes us anxious in order that the response, the panic, subsides with repetition. And for me it does, when I work with my therapist and support group.

But suppose you have hoarding issues (patterns that are closely related to OCD). Maybe you collect everything you can find--plastic bags, Tupperware containers, pens and pencils, old keys, anything--for no real reason other the paralyzing fear that these items will go to waste.

Maybe you're afraid that letting go of these things, if it really does mean you're being wasteful, will make you a bad person. This obsession with pragmatism has your house brimming with stuff you'll never use, and you can't find the articles you actually need.

So you're this person, and say a friend offers to help you by having a yard sale. (This is really tempting for you because you've been trying to work on the hoarding for your own sake, and the clean-up for practicality's sake.)

But here's the question: You know that if you have a yard sale, you're bound to find shoppers who will buy what you have. If someone buys the pens he's probably restocking a home office. If someone buys the keys she needs them for a craft project. The items are being used, not wasted.

But are you really confronting your OCD if you're ultimately satisfying the same goal that has you hung up--absolute practicality at any cost? Aren't you just feeding the fear?

My answer to this question is: "Stop thinking!" You're taking it too far. Maybe it's a little perfectionism setting in. In any case, it's keeping you from being productive and actually making progress at cleaning your house.

The question persists: If you were REALLY trying to practice ERP, wouldn't you throw everything away, in the trash, where it's certain nobody would ever find a use for your discards? Maybe. But that's just doing the opposite for opposite's sake. If you struggled with contamination, the tenets of ERP wouldn't require you to drink urine, would they?

We don't need to overcompensate for OCD. We just need to find our comfort zones...the place where healthy minds of the world function every day.

Friday, October 23, 2009

The New International OCD Foundation

You may not know it, but there is an organization out there that was created especially for us! It's called the International OCD Foundation, (formerly the Obsessive Compulsive Foundation). There are even local affiliates across the country. Here is a brief look into what the foundation can do for you:

  1. Find out how you can participate in OCD research. The International OCD Foundation posts information on clinical studies on its website. They aim to find answers on hoarding, body dysmorphic disorder, obsessions, compulsions, and the like. See how you can be a part of the research.
  2. Find a treatment provider. The organization has compiled a list of doctors who treat OCD and related disorders. While they have not evaluated the effectiveness of the providers, it is a good place to start your own investigation into finding some help. Find a doctor in your area, or search intensive treatment programs by state.
  3. Find a support group. I used the OC Foundation to find my support group, and I have already testified to the benefits I've experienced by going--accountability, objectivity, and community. Here's how the International OCD Foundation can help you find a support group of your own.
  4. Learn more about OCD. There's advice for parents of children with OCD, a list of books on OCD, and links to other websites and foundations. Visit to see what's there.
  5. Support the foundation. If you find the organization helpful or want to help fulfill its mission, make a donation or become a member.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Vote for Me, Please!

I've entered Wellsphere's Health Blogger Awards Competition. If you vote for me, and ask your other OCD friends to vote for me (if you like my blog, of course) I could be one of the top 100 people's health bloggers in the Wellsphere community!

Unfortunately since my site is anonymous, I can't send links out to family members like other bloggers can (and will), but that's a self-imposed handicap and I'll take it if I have to.

Click the button in the sidebar to cast your vote! It's much appreciated! Or, if you REALLY love me, and you have a website of your own, here's a link to my profile page at Wellsphere where there are instructions for posting your very own badge:

(If you haven't checked out Wellsphere, there's a wealth of knowledge there and it's growing daily at