Last year I spoke at the OCD & Anxiety Disorders Recovery stones seminar. At that time I was really pleased because I was steadily recovering from OCD. I felt much more in control of my life and my OCD symptoms had decreased to a point where I was able to work and socialise successfully. As I write this letter now I am amazed by my progress since that session last year. I am pleased to say that I now have recovered to the extent that I can go many weeks without any OCD related behaviour. In fact in the last week and a half I had two triggers that would have set off OCD obsessive thoughts only six months ago. The triggers were related to obsessive thoughts about harining others. However my thinking patterns are so different now, that I had got past those triggers without even thinking about it. It wasn't until I spoke to my psychologist this week and thought about those triggers that I realised that cognitive thinking patterns come to me now automatically. I get past the trigger by using the method of targeting thoughts and this happens without me thinking consciously about it. This was a very exciting moment for me. I knew I was feeling much better, but didn't take the time to think about why. So I thought I would share my thoughts about recovery with you.
I see recovery from OCD as being a bit like being on a rollercoaster ride. I found myself improving or going up the hill and then going downwards slightly but the nect hill seems higher and I can stay there for longer until the next downhill. My recovery in the last year has taken giant leaps forward and I believe that there are a number of factors that have contributed to this.
I have finally accepted OCD as an illness that I have no control over. I know that having the illness says nothing about me as a person. Earlier this year I accepted the invitation to participate in the production of a video for Tribal Video Productions about OCD. At first I was apprehensive because I was worried about who might see the video and what they might think about me. However participating in the video was a really empowering thing to do because it helped me finally come to an acceptance of having OCD and feeling good about who I am. It is interesting when I look at the video now because it helps me to see how far I have come even since that interview.
In February this year I started working with a new psychologist and I started taking medication at the same time. I don't want to advocate taking medication as a 'cure' for OCD, but medication has helped me to take the next step in my recovery. I hadn't taken any medication up until the beginning of this year and I had thought I had recovered as much as I was going to. I suppose I had been a bit reluctant to take medication. When I started taking the medication it was terrible. I had nausea and sleepless nights but I persisted with it. I met with the psychologist once a week for a few months and she was incredibly supportive, empathetic and worked with me in making a plan for tackling some issues that I had been unable to tackle before. I think the combination of psychological treatment and medication has worked well in helping me with my recovery. I am going to see my psychologist occasionally now just to touch base and talk about things that I feel are important to me.
I joined an all women's gym to try and improve my overall fitness level and general health. This was a brilliant change to my lifestyle. I have always been fairly active but attending the gym has been a great way to improve my fitness and feel good about myself I workout with a personal trainer once a fortnight and then try to get to the gym three times a week. I've noticed that since first attending the gym six months ago, my self-esteem has improved and my energy levels have increased. I have not had any depressive episodes for a few months now and I believe that the gym work has helped to prevent that.
This year has been lots of hard work in sticking to my goals and continuing to make progress in recovery. I have done some things in the last few months that I wouldn't have dreamed of doing a year ago. I am working a full week that includes two part time jobs. I am really enjoying my work, especially since I no longer have to check doors, cupboards and computers many times a day! I have bought a unit in Geelong and will sM to look for employment there soon. I have been taking horse riding lessons, something I have wanted to do for over twenty years.
I believe that it is important to share my story of recovery with other OCD sufferers and the wider community. If you are an OCD sufferer or a carer of an OCD sufferer, I hope this story provides you with a message of hope. For others in the community I hope you will gain an understanding of what it is like to live with OCD and how important it is to support and encourage those people in the community who deal daily with the torment of OCD and who are fighting hard to recover.
Published in ARCVic newsletter Summer 2001