If you know someone that suffers from anxiety or depression it can get better. One type of anxiety I am very familiar with is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Whether it is depression or anxiety, It can wreak such havoc on your life, joy and fun is completely non-existent. It lies, scares you, tells you your bad, steals your energy, and makes you feel so inadequate, unworthy, you wonder…what’s the point?
I believe everything serves a purpose, including mental illness. We may realize, at some point, that it helped us not feel or it helped us compartmentalize. We may figure out that it is genetic, that it helped us gain some control over our lives when we were very stressed or it was as simple as feeding our self hatred. Maybe we even mastered it and found a way to help others! Or you may never truly understand….
Anxiety and depression can consume your world 24/7. It used to consume mine. Today it may pop up from time to time but it does not rule my world and I have the tools to send it on its way.
Let’s start with OCD. The terms OCD and obsession are used very loosely these days. I have heard many people say “I am being OCD,” without really understanding the disorder. To gain a better understanding of the true nature of this illness, please visit International OCD Foundation in Boston, MA. (http://iocdf.org/about-ocd/)
When we are in our obsession or compulsion, we are seeking release. We are looking for that “just right” feeling in our head, the click. It is as if our brain is stuck and it just keeps going around and around. For me, I had to confess to someone close to me. My rituals, obsessions and compulsions changed growing up but I seemed to settle on confessions. It got so bad that I was ready and willing to do anything to make it stop. So I did what all the cognitive behavior therapists tell you to do: see the obsession, the compulsion, and refuse to act on it. I know what you are thinking! If I could do that I would have done that years ago. Yes, it is much harder than it sounds, but it works. I really believe that by doing this, my brain reset and stopped obsessing. You see, talking therapy does not work for people with OCD. Trust me, I know. Since I was about 12, I have tried it all! At 38 years of age, I picked up a book and decided to give it try. The book is written by Psychiatrist, Jeffrey Schwartz, called Brain Lock: Free Yourself from Obsessive-Compulsive Behavior. I strongly suggest you give it a try. A website that was also extremely helpful was: http://www.helpguide.org/articles/anxiety/obssessive-compulsive-disorder-ocd.htm.
When an obsession or compulsion came up, I looked at it and chose to turn my attention to other things. Yes, very difficult! I kept wanting to go back to it – my OCD brain would tell me that if I don’t pursue this, something horrible would happen. I would literally talk back to it and say – so be it! The immense discomfort, however, didn’t last long. The more I practiced this, the more time had gone before another obsession came up. I truly believe my brain was reset. It works but you have to do it – you have to go through the horrible feelings of intense discomfort. If you do, you will reap the rewards – I’ve never looked back!
Depression was immensely helped by the book Feeling Good, the new mood therapy, by David Burns, M.D. Our thoughts greatly affect our lives. I talk about this all of the time. When I am in the dumps it is because my thinking has led me there. So many times in my life, I have gotten out of the dark place by changing my attitude and my thoughts. Again, this sounds a lot easier than it is. There was a time in my life that I was deep under with depression. I started replacing my negative thoughts with positive thoughts even though I felt it was a waste of time and it would never pass. But I kept at it. I faked it until I made it and one day I realized I wasn’t depressed anymore. It works!
The tools are out there! We just have to do the work! If you or somebody you love is struggling with mental illness, I send you love, courage, guidance and a recognition of the brilliant white light that resides within you. May that light fill your being guiding you in all ways.