I am currently working my way through what could be called an OCD relapse.
For the last few years I’ve felt a steadily increasing sense of wellness and confidence. My ability to interrupt my obsessions and compulsions has grown, and I’ve felt more and more at home in my body, my life, and even my mind. I’ve been practicing Exposure Response Prevention techniques, mindfulness meditation, and lots of movement forms. I felt like I was beginning to move beyond my OCD as a defining feature of my life.
And then, seemingly out of the blue, a wave of turbulent OCD thoughts, behaviors, fears, and intense anxiety overwhelmed me. I unraveled. I felt right back at square one, and like I had to basically start over. It was a huge struggle just to get through each day. I was devastated. It had felt so good to be expanding beyond my fear and mental vigilance. And now that state of expansion felt a million miles away.
And this has happened before. Many times. Periods of expansion and strengthening have given way to sudden OCD relapses over and over. And each time it’s happened, I feel like I’ve done something wrong.
Part of that feeling of wrong seems to be the OCD talking, as my particular obsessions are all about how I’ve done the worst thing imaginable and will be punished for it—usually after death. That part of the feeling of “wrong” I’m going to label as my OCD thought and not engage with it. But there’s another side to the feelings that the relapses are my fault. This side has to do with how I understand growth over the long-term in living with this disorder.
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In episode 126 of The OCD Stories podcast I interviewed Harris Goldberg for the second time. Harris is a director, writer and producer. He co-wrote the comedy Deuce Bigolow: Male Gigalo, and in 2007 wrote and directed the film NUMB, inspired by his own experiences of mental health.
In this episode I chat with Harris about many topics including his recent relapse, his OCD story, managing stress, maintaining mental well-being, managing anxiety on a movie set, his biggest epiphany in recovery, what he would tell his 20-year-old self, and much much more. Hope it helps.
To listen on iTunes click the button, or go to iTunes and search “The OCD Stories“. If you enjoy the podcast please subscribe and leave a review. It helps us reach more people who need to hear these remarkable stories of recovery!
I am coming to terms with the fact that thoughts are just thoughts
I have had OCD for 40 years.
In 1973, when I had my first intrusive thought (to stab my mother with a kitchen knife) up until 2005 (checking and rechecking moles to see if they were cancerous), I assumed I was just a weird worrier. After all my mother did it too so I figured it couldn’t be that abnormal.
But by 2005 the fear became so loud and the checking became so time consuming that I knew something wasn’t right. And the obsessions became more and more bizarre.
As most people do, I did research on the Internet. It appeared as if I might have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. There wasn’t a description of my specific obsession (and that worried me) but my behavior seemed to fit the OCD pattern.
I started seeing a therapist. I started seeing a psychologist. With their help I began to get better. Prozac helped too.