The small bag that I carry my medication in has a printed saying “I will not obsess, I will not obsess, I will not obsess . . .” There are times during this journey I can’t think of a single thing that I don’t obsess about. When I was first diagnosed 10 years ago, one of the doctors I saw diagnosed me with obsessive-compulsive disorder. I had convinced myself I was dying from cancer. Specifically, a brain tumor. Constantly searching the internet for information would find me believing I had every symptom. Finally, after a neurological exam, a straight-to-the-point medical doctor said, “Cut through the denial and began accepting that this is mental.” We argued for a good 10 minutes until he finally said, “It is up to you, either spend thousands of dollars on unnecessary tests or get a psychological. Thankfully, I was seeing a therapist. She gave me some tough love and said, “You are going to end up in the hospital and they won’t be looking for a brain tumor.” So after my third physician’s recommendation and her harrowing statement, I conceded, making an appointment with a psychiatrist. After an hour of questions, with prescriptions in hand and continuation of therapy recommended, I made my first step toward getting well.
My diagnosis did not include OCD. My pdoc said obsessive tendencies go with the poles of my disorder. Therapy and medication helped to extinquish the symptoms. My therapist at the time, specialized in cognitive-behavior therapy. For three months, I wore a rubber band around my wrist. My therapist charged me with the reacting to obsessive and compulsive thoughts by snapping the band when the thought FIRST entered my mind. It was an act I could do discretely. Within weeks my obsessive thoughts slowly diminshed.
Behavior management helped to change my thought patterns and I am greatful medication has also worked for me. I am better even if I still have periods when obsessive thoughts nag at me and I began to act like “Melvin” the character played by Jack Nicholson in As Good As it Gets:
Never, never, interrupt me, okay? Not if there’s a fire, not even if you hear the sound of a thud from my home and one week later there’s a smell coming from there that can only be a decaying human body and you have to hold a hanky to your face because the stench is so thick that you think you’re going to faint. Even then, don’t come knocking. Or, if it’s election night, and you’re excited and you wanna celebrate because someone that you date has been elected the first president of the United States and he’s going to have you down to Camp David, and you want someone to share the moment with. Even then, don’t knock. Not on this door. Not for ANY reason. Do you get me, sweetheart?