This is the blog of India Haylor, writing on behalf of OCD First Aid.  OCD First Aid is a treatment centre based in London which offers highly effective treatment programmes for OCD. Uniquely, the treatment is designed by clinicians with OCD to provide tangible, lasting relief and is based upon cognitive behavioural and third generation techniques. OCD First Aid has 14 years of experience as specialists in treating OCD, supporting families and carers and raising awareness.

Recovering or ‘re-recovering’ from OCD can seem like a huge insurmountable problem.  Delaying or procrastinating on helpful ways forward with your OCD can be tackled in the same way as all procrastination – break the problem down! Smaller steps and actions are more achievable, measurable and, as you tick them off, produce a sense of achievement and movement. Remember that you will need to keep redirecting yourself away from the problem and towards solutions. Discussing, ruminating, researching and generally just thinking about your OCD is a very strong habit.  Another key component of any effective action plan is ‘life-adaptability’ – the ability to be able to incorporate your steps in to your life. The more you can harmonise long-term action steps with your daily routine, the more likely you are to maintain them. So here are some suggestions for steps you can take today…………

  1. Speak up! Talk to someone, even if the chat is brief. Tell someone you trust, e.g., your partner, parent, line manager, GP, therapist, friend that you are having a tough time but are taking steps to get back on track. This will formalise your intentions to change matters for the better.
  2. Stay present! Today, every time you catch yourself thinking about OCD or any other matter, gently bring yourself back to the moment and focus on what you are doing. Make a note on your phone, on your desktop, set an alarm to remind yourself. If this doesn’t work, check your thoughts every 30 mins. You will be amazed at how easily you are slipping back in to your thoughts
  3. Eyes on the task ahead! It seems so simple but keep your eyes moving and focused. Your OCD brain can only obsess when your eyes are fixed. If you keep them moving with short focus on what is around you or what you are doing, it is more difficult to think. If you let your eyes drift, your thoughts will take over. As above, make a note to check your focus at intervals today. You will be similarly surprised at how often you let your eyes ‘go’.
  4. Lest we forget! Write a key message that works for you, somewhere you can see it. Examples are:
    1. Control is my problem, not my solution
    2. Pay attention to doing, not thinking or feeling
    3. Thoughts and feelings lie to me….often……
    4. Whatever I fear might happen, I will cope, etc.
  5. Don’t self-medicate: Cut down on drinking or over-eating today. These won’t be the entire solution but it will help. Even if you can tackle just one area where you use food or drink to feel better.
  6. Get active: whatever physical activity you can fit realistically in to your day, it will help your OCD. Walking to work, doing a quick class at lunchtime, going for a run after work? Again, it’s not an entire solution but it will tackle some of that adrenalin
  7. Don’t focus on OCD, focus on the solutions: forums, books, articles on OCD are interesting (and may be unhelpfully reassuring and addictive) but much more helpful are forums, books and articles about the solutions. Start looking at CBT, REBT, mindfulness and Acceptance Commitment Therapy. Order a book or read one article today.
  8. Don’t be sweet! If you haven’t already, cut down on refined carbohydrates today. Culprits are sugar, cakes, drinks, alcohol, etc. Just minimise one of these in your diet since they can play havoc with your anxiety and mood
  9. Don’t fight! Remind yourself that people only distress themselves when they are unwilling to accept whatever it is they are experiencing and this is especially true for people with OCD. They don’t want the anxiety, the thought or the outcome of the thought. The more a person doesn’t want it, the more distressed they will become and the more actions they will take to avoid the discomfort. Today, say to yourself ‘How I feel now is exactly how anyone would feel with OCD and anxiety. It is OK to feel uncomfortable. It will last a lot longer if I fight.’
  10. Value you! Whatever happens today, the truth is that you CAN do it. Even if you are muttering to yourself that you can’t stand how things are or you don’t deserve to recover, you can change the internal dialogue. If you can change one of your internal messages, you are making progress. Replace ‘I can’t stand this’ with ‘It feels bad but I’ve stood it this far. I’m pretty tough.’ and replace ‘I don’t deserve to recover’ with ‘I am good enough for anything and anyone.’

Time for some stuff about me. Damn. Anyway, my OCD road well traveled...

OCD & Eating Disorders - it's complicated!