Obsessed is just a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated.-Russell Warren
Being a fighter does not mean you win every battle or even the war.
It means you do not give in.
It means you lean in to the pain and if you have to yell through it, you yell. Loud and proud, proclaiming to the world that you exist, you matter, you deserve a good life!
As a fighter, I realized that I have the power to be extraordinarily dedicated. When there is no hope, I can make hope – like a star bursting forth into existence from empty space. Recently, I was asked my power word – it is “RAWR” because that is the closest approximation of what it sounds like in my head when I am blocking out intrusive thoughts. It’s kind of funny too and it helps. It clears the clouds and allows me to move forward. Those of us with OCD can certainly be dedicated and I’ve been choosing to focus on the act of dedication lately when things get dark.
Dedication in this context:
Appreciation, acknowledgment, directed good will, action towards things that help others. This is compared to obsession which involves negative cyclical thoughts over the past, the unchangeable, what ifs, and self-destructive ideas. In short, I have to be more dedicated to living than to my obsessions or compulsions which actively target my physical well-being. At times this means sitting with the intrusive thoughts and not seeking reassurance, doing mental checks, or giving into compulsions.
I love so much about this life, but one of my darkest compulsions for many years now is to plan suicide. When I feel like life is swallowing me whole, I make these plans because I believe my overwhelm is permanent. Why? The intrusive thoughts scream “Everything is your fault!” It was not until a conversation with my psychiatrist that I realized I had actually been enacting a compulsion for years in response to these feelings/thoughts. OCD often has externalized compulsions but I do not have many of those. Instead, I check my thoughts/feelings on a constant basis. I question everything I have ever said or done, worried I have hurt someone by accident. Suddenly my solid world-view looks more like a watercolor painting; I can’t make out the details even though I know what they looked like before the watercolor filter was passed over. I start to think:
“Why should I be alive any longer if I am so unsure of everything? I must be defective and must rid myself from this planet.”
Basically I am super dedicated to making sure everything “feels” right, “is” right, and that everyone is okay. To have OCD is to be a fighter with an immense pool of focused energy to draw from – when this energy of dedication can be directed towards what is good, you find you are capable of pushing through so you can start acting on what is good for you instead of obsessing on what-ifs.
It feels like it is my duty to protect others from harm. Now, this can’t always be the case. I blame myself for everything bad that has happened to everyone while also worrying about the future and what will happen. I feel like everything is my responsibility but that is not the case.
There is hope.
Those of us who suffer from this can turn this energy of protectiveness/hyper-responsibility of and for others into protection for ourselves. It is an opportunity to learn where our boundaries are and how we can truly be protectors by learning to protect ourselves first. OCD hates boundaries. For some reason, it feels like protecting ourselves is bad so sitting with intrusive thoughts can be hellish as we need to do just that!
It is not bad to tell those intrusive thoughts who is boss nor is it selfish to protect yourself from them. The intrusive thoughts are not necessary nor are the compulsions that may follow.
You are the boss. You are in control. You know the truth, even when that watercolor filter sets in over your memories, thoughts, feelings – it will pass. It must be your job to protect yourself from that filter instead of trying to see through it.
OCD is like a person that wants to be seen – they get really annoying and loud when you try to ignore them and they don’t give up when you reassure them. They just come back with something else. I become that person after a while and others with OCD do the same.
Acknowledge them with kindness, tell them to please stop trying so hard to protect you from yourself with intrusive thoughts. Do not follow through with the compulsion. Tell that “person” (the OCD) you are thankful for their assistance but they need to take a seat because they make you feel compelled to do things that are not healthy when those thoughts come up. This was a strategy from my mentor Renae Peterson, and I have found it to be immensely effective. ERP and sitting with discomfort/intrusive thoughts is effective but so hard.
Dedicate yourself to sitting through it.
Feel free to comment your experiences as well if you are comfortable.
We may have OCD but we are certainly dedicated and we can make an amazing life out of this dedication within us!