To Fight or Not To Fight?

Image courtesy of Ventrilock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Ventrilock at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Today I find myself lost in a question that I’m not sure has an answer.  The question is, what is it that makes one person decide to fight OCD full force and what makes another decide that it just isn’t worth it?

I’m pondering this for a couple of reasons.  One is that I wonder what makes Blake hold on to his OCD symptoms so fiercely when he has had much treatment, much success over his OCD the past, and when he possesses all the knowledge and tools that he needs to live as OCD-free as one can live.  The other reason is that I’ve been dealing with someone in my professional life who lives a life that is so debilitated by OCD, and yet who cannot decide if they are willing to move beyond it.

I don’t have OCD so I don’t have the internal sense of how it must feel to face treatment and all that must be done to overcome it.  At the same time, I did struggle enormously with a social anxiety disorder for a very long time.  It was incredibly challenging overcoming it, yet worth every terrifying moment.  I never want to be back where I was again.

When I am dealing with someone who is much older than Blake who is not yet ready to leave OCD’s grasp, it makes me wonder what lies ahead for Blake.  I feel so powerless in the face of both of these two and I do not like that feeling.  I’m curious if there’s anyone out there who can share what it is that helped them make the decision to free themselves from OCD.

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8 thoughts on “To Fight or Not To Fight?

  1. I don’t know if you are ever “free” of OCD. For me it has always been there in the back of my brain even when at my best. As a teenager it was the worse ever and I had no one to tell so I hid it and suffered terribly. I don’t think there was a decision to fight it, or give in to it, it just was. As I got older it became easier. Still there, but not quite as pronounced. Now, I can always tell when I am super anxious or stressed about something as it starts showing up at my doorstep! But, with maturity, I think comes the knowledge that “I am stressed and that stress is aggravating my OCD.” Doesn’t mean I don’t give in to it, but at least I understand why it is happening. I am sure that probably didn’t answer your question, but I’m not quite sure how to put it into words. 🙂

  2. Excellent question you ask, Angie, and as someone who does not have OCD, this has been one of the most difficult aspects of the disorder for me to understand. You have a debilitating disorder that is treatable. Yes, treatment is tough, but not as tough as living with OCD. Why not just jump right in to ERP therapy?
    I wrote this article a while back: http://psychcentral.com/lib/understanding-recovery-avoidance-in-ocd/0008964 which might help shed some light on the issue for you. Take Care.

    • Thank you, Janet. My guess is, in Blake’s case, that there just aren’t enough incentives to get better. He has no passion that I know of and, sadly, right now most of his rituals – especially the religious ones – are ego syntonic. 😦

  3. It’s an interesting question. I also think it’s unanswerable, and I’ve come to the conclusion that most “why” questions surrounding mental illness are similarly unknowable. For myself, I’ve often wondered why I have dealt with OCD and depression (which I can trace to both parents), while my sister has not. Or why so many things that scare/bother/unhinge me, don’t bother my husband even while we’re experiencing the same life events. What I always come back to is that there isn’t an answer, and it’s not helpful, in fact it can be terribly frustrating (as I’m sure you know) to try and answer such a question.

    For myself, it was only time and reflection that made me choose to behave differently, in the hopes that my thinking would follow my behavior–and it did. I only found your blog a couple weeks ago but it sounds like Blake is interested in religion? Has he read anything about Buddhism? The most helpful part of the Buddhist doctrine for me is the idea that all living things are meant to understand their own suffering. The anxiety we feel is meant to be felt and examined and understood, not something to distract against with rituals and rules. It’s a hard place to arrive at initially, but it’s ultimately brought me a lot of peace. Life is hard, we’re going to feel bad things. The best way to deal with it is to let it in and try to understand it.

    • Thank you so much for your insightful comments. I don’t really try to answer the question, but I do ponder it sometimes when I’m struggling.

      Yes, Blake is interested in religion, not so much for philosophy and understanding though. He actually is into it more for the ritual of it. It gives him rules to live by and I think that it takes away some of the uncertainty he is plagued by. Sometimes, when he is caught up in a religious ritual, I will ask him what the true meaning of it is. I will wonder with him what the reason might be for having such a ritual. He cannot yet grasp that there is a spiritual reason for these things. This, I hope, will come to him with maturity.

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting. – Angie

  4. Good post! Unfortunately though it doesn’t matter how much knowledge you have about OCD that makes it worth fighting. It also doesn’t matter that everyone around you wants to get better, or that they can see the potential of what you could be without OCD. The desire, want, need to get better has to come from within. Sometimes seeing others wanting it so bad for you is a good starting point, but ultimely it is up the person struggling with OCD. I believe that for some they have to hit “rock bottom” before finally coming to the point of frustration with OCD that they want to take on the painstaking work of getting better. So they can see the full consequences of the OCD, but I imagine it is very hard for those around them to actually allow someone to endure that much pain.

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