In the Moment

It’s one thing for me to declare over my blog to a primarily anonymous audience, “Dear obsessive-compulsives, this is what you should do.”

But then comes the moment when your friend says, “Hey, can you talk to my friend on Facebook?  Here’s her name.”

It’s not that I’ve never been there before, the frenetic chaos of an obsession.  I know what it’s like to feel that furious terror, to need to know that things will be okay.  I get it.  I really do.

But I know the other side now.  I know that reassurances aren’t going to get this girl anywhere.  Know that discussing her obsession is like clipping off the leaves of a weed, when what we really need to go for is the root.

In that moment– those wild minutes of obsessive pandemonium– it’s hard to talk calmly, to keep redirecting someone back to the idea of treatment, to feel like you’re doing them any good.  In fact, you imagine they’re thinking, No, you’re not getting this.  You don’t know what I need.

But I do.  Because I do get it.  Because I was there.  Because I tried for years to put a quick bandaid over the cancer that needed to be cut out.

Breathe, I tell her.  Breathe tonight, and then educate yourself tomorrow.  It’s time to go for the root.


11 thoughts on “In the Moment

  1. It is hard sometimes to feel like I’m doing anyone any good. It’s hard not to reassure someone because I just want them to feel better. But in the long run, I want them to BE better. And that comes with treatment. My treatment journey has been rather unorthodox, though. I have worked a lot on my own, and I didn’t have the 12-week (or longer) intensive ERP therapy. So I wonder can I help, beyond telling people that they can get better. Any thoughts on this?

    • Tina, you have SO MUCH capacity for helping others … ESPECIALLY because you’ve done self-guided ERP. That is what a lot of people I talk to want to do, and I don’t have experience with it … but because of you, I recommend Dr. Jonathan Grayson’s book all the time!

  2. Is it difficult to know when someone needs to hear the truth and when someone needs to be suspended in uncertainty? How do you know the difference?

    • Wow, AJ, great question. I think it’s possible to tell someone the truth in a way that is not just doling out reassurance. For example, “You know that that is silly, so I’m not going to reassure you about it right now. Let’s think through it. It’s possible but not likely.”


  3. “In fact, you imagine they’re thinking, ‘No, you’re not getting this. You don’t know what I need.’

    That, sadly, is me. One of the huge things I’m struggling with is how trust people, voices, other than my OCD.

    But I know you’re right – reassurance is like a drug, you just need more and more of it.

  4. Pingback: In the Moment: the Flipside | Lights All Around

  5. Pingback: HOCD Q&A with Hannah! | Jackie Lea Sommers

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