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I went through a period in my life where my thoughts became extremely obsessive. I would repeat certain phrases in my head over and over again until I felt a peace wash over me. I thought the phrases were causing the peace, but they were actually creating an obsession. Later, I found out that I actually had obsessive compulsive disorder.
Obsessive compulsive disorder has to do with an association between thoughts and behaviors. Some people have external behaviors; while other people, like myself, have internal behaviors. For example, someone may get a fear based thought, and have to repeat "I am safe" over and over in their head until the fear starts to dissipate. For me, that was a common thought and behavior. But before I knew it, I would be repeating certain phrases in my head up to 500 times a day.
OCD became a mental prison.
I did not feel satisfied until I would think what I needed to think. Sometimes, if people were not around, I would say it out loud to receive extra satisfaction. And, at the worst point during this time in my life, I remember whispering certain phrases even when people were around; just hoping that they did not hear me.
I cannot explain the feeling I used to get; I would feel so on edge, so afraid. And I would say a phrase once, and then just keep saying it until I felt complete. Until I felt okay. But eventually, I got so annoyed with the thoughts, and my behaviors to the thoughts. The OCD started to become worse than the fear itself.
My OCD was internal, some people have OCD that consists of external behaviors, (like washing their hands repeatedly, or touching door knobs an even number of times). But whether the OCD is internal or external, it consists of the same feelings: dissatisfaction before the behavior, and satisfaction after the compulsion is completed.
It may not sound that bad. But from someone who has experienced it first-hand, it is a hard way to live. It was so hard for me, that I eventually went to a psychiatrists. I tried to handle it on my own for too long, I finally hit my breaking point and reached out for help. After going to my appointment, I did not get the news I wanted.
I was hoping there was some easy cure. But there wasn't. Every pill that is used to treat obsessive compulsive disorder has a very long list of awful side effects. I felt as though I would be trading one hardship for another.
I knew that there had to be another way.
Now, I am not going to sit here and tell you that I have found the cure for OCD, because that is simply not the case. But what I am going to tell you is what helped me.
- Be honest with yourself. If you think this is something you might have a problem with, then do your research. In order to overcome the disorder, you need to know, and understand, it. Start calling it what it is. When I start to get an obsessive thought, I will simply recognize it for what it is and tell myself that is not true, it is a delusion or obsessive thought. If I start compulsively repeating things, I need to call that out as well.
- Have someone to confide in. Sometimes the best way to get out of your own head, is by talking to someone else and getting in theirs. I am not completely open with people about the part OCD plays in my life. But I do have people I can call, or message, if I need to.
- Keep the mind/hands busy in non-obsessive ways. If you are like me and you are internally obsessive, then find something that you can do to keep the mind busy (just be sure not to substitute one compulsion for another). For someone with compulsive thoughts, you can read, write, draw, listen to music, sing; anything that can get you out of whatever it is that you are obsessing about.
- Make boundaries for yourself. This might sound corny but sometimes looking yourself in the mirror and just speaking out loud ("no, I am not going to obsess over this") can actually work wonders. Be assertive with yourself.
- Join a support group. Find people who are going through a similar thing you are going through. NAMI meetings are a great place for people with mental illnesses or disorders.
- Research natural remedies. If you are like me and do not want the intense medication and the side effects that tags along with it; then research natural remedies. You will be surprised at how many natural remedies you can find. CBD oil, milk thistle, borage oil, and zinc, are just a few out of hundreds of natural remedies that are out there for CBD.
- Don't give up. I'm not saying that things are going to be perfect, but it can and will get better if you allow it to. Don't be discouraged and don't give up.