The Twelve Days of OCD Christmas
OCD is a real pain most of the time but it can get really bad during the holiday season. Typically sufferers have more ‘thinking time’, coinciding with complex social and familial demands. Christmas is a particular tension-point, not least because there can be a lot of pressure to break the healthy routines that keep OCD in check. Christmas also spikes a lot of OCD sufferers becuse it brings together family members who don't normally spend much time together. It also lends a particular pressure to be happy all of the time.
OCD can be the Christmas Grinch who tries to spoil your celebrations so we are sending you these 12 honest truths about OCD for your festive fightback!
Mind and Soul sent to me:
1) A Partridge in a Pear Tree
It is true that OCD is going to be roosting in your tree for a really long time! It is a chronic disorder that will fluctuate in intensity at different times of the year (but likely will be with you for a lifetime). Try to remember that you have felt its power before and have tools at your disposal to help it settle back down. OCD can be managed well so that it has only a very small impact upon your daily life.
2) Turtle Doves
The two ‘Turtle Doves’ of OCD called 'Obsessions and Compulsions'. You will have both obsessions (intrusive and negative thoughts) and compulsions (neutralizing behaviors). Some people think that because they aren’t washing their hands or checking their locks that don’t have OCD. Remember that most people’s OCD is invisible and that their rituals held within their minds only. (Mental checking, reasoning, counting, ritual prayer etc...)
3) French Hens
You cannot stop a hen laying an egg but you can choose not to pick it up. In the same way you cannot stop your brain laying horrible, threatening thoughts and scenarios in your mind (obsessions) but you can choose not to pick them up (compulsions). It is hard but the power to resist compulsions is in your hands.
4) Calling Birds
Have you ever woken up early to hear the dawn chorus? It’s intense, but listening to it doesn’t mean you are going to become a bird! In the same way having an obsessional thought running through your mind does not mean you are going to become a serial killer! Thoughts are just thoughts and their frequency in OCD is immaterial.
5) Golden Rings
Everyone, particularly Christians, want to find a golden ticket to healing OCD. They become preoccupied with diminishing their symptoms including distressing thoughts, compulsive urges and anxious feelings. Sadly the search for the ‘golden rings’ of symptom remission, simply creates an even more hyperconscious mind that is primed to the very symptoms that the person is trying to escape.
6) Geese a Laying
OCD constantly lays guilt and doubt in your mind. It used to be called ‘the doubting disease’ and over the years I have heard people recount the most incredible doubts, from whether they are psychotic, to whether they are in love, to whether they really are 'saved'. The guilt that OCD creates is exaggerated in every possible way and is very often completely unfounded. Treat both guilt and doubt with suspicion!
7) Swans a Swimming
Reassurance is like crack-cocaine for OCD sufferers. It feels that, ‘if you could just get this one thing clear’ your OCD would stop. Sadly, reassurance lasts just a day, an hour or even a minute before it fades and the dilemma returns (or a new one appears). It may feel like you are swimming free but you are actually only swimming in circles.
8) Maids a Milking
OCD milks every threatening scenario (obsessions) to the extreme. It manages this because the OCD brain does not process historical threats in the same way that non-sufferers do. The OCD brain treats every old obsession as if it is new: It feels urgent, fresh and dangerous regardless of whether it is really the first or 1000th time you have thought it. In this way it can constantly hold your attention.
9) Ladies Dancing
OCD always gives you the impression that you cannot do what you want, until you have a ‘peaceful’ feeling inside. It is like a troll under the bridge of your opportunity; you feel that you have to pay a toll (with compulsions) to cross it. The truth is that you can ‘out-will’ OCD. By choosing to go dancing despite your unresolved fears you are making real psychological progress.
10) Lords a Leaping
Exposure and Response Prevention is the gold standard treatment for OCD. This takes the dancing analogy a step further. Instead of just doing things that you enjoy, leap towards things that activate your OCD, welcoming the anxiety, doubt and guilt without trying to escape through reassurance. It is a painful process but ultimately it leads to better control of symptoms.
11) Pipers Piping
OCD can have a negative impact upon friends and family too. People suffering from OCD can (understandably) find themselves piping the same tunes over and over again. These can take the form of the 3 R’s; rituals, reassurance or rage. Remenber that you cannot reduce your anxiety through other people. Try to boundary the impact of your OCD by seeking external help as well as becoming your own therapist. Make sure your closest friends understand the disorder and can do things that actually help you in the long term.
12) Drummers Drumming
OCD will try to set the drumbeat of your life for as long as you let it. Nobody ‘grows out’ of OCD. However, you can actually walk to the beat of a different drum; that is as a son or daughter of God. You are precious and dearly loved. The best treatment for OCD over the long haul is to choose to live your life in faith that you are forgiven and secure in Christ. This is hard when every fiber of your will wants to stop and resolve the next pressing doubt or fear, but it is possible. Winning against OCD is reducing or even stopping rituals (compulsions), it is not about feeling at perfectly peaceful. The peace of Christ passes all understanding, even the understanding of OCD brains! Happy Christmas