I Confess

confessI don’t want to admit this to you.  I really don’t.

But I’ve made such efforts to be honest with my blogging community, and the wonderful, encouraging reception I’ve always gotten from you, my beloved readers, has continually encouraged me to continue with that honesty and integrity.

So today I’m going to tell you something that might make you made at me.  Here it is:

Sometimes I get really frustrated with people with OCD. 

Five years of freedom and already I am so quick to frustration.  Shame on me, right?  Then again, the last five years of my life (post-ERP) have been so absolutely incredible that they make me even more frustrated with those who avoid treatment.

The truth of the matter is this: exposure and response prevention is the best and most appropriate treatment for OCD.  Quite simply, if you’re looking for a “solution” to your OCD, then I have it for you: ERP.  I hear from a lot of people who seem to want a different answer, and yet my bottom line remains the same: ERP, ERP, ERP.

I know it’s scary.  (Trust me, I know it’s scary!)  But it’s the right answer, and I’m not going to send you on a wild goose chase when I know the right answer.  That would be like me telling you to go get chemotherapy for your gunshot wound or that you need insulin for your broken arm.  It’s obvious that those aren’t the correct treatment for the issue, and I won’t do that to you.

Research shows that ERP is the best treatment for OCD.  My life shows that a person with obsessive-compulsive disorder can redeem the years he or she lost to being enslaved by OCD.  No matter how many times you ask me, I’m going to give the same answer.

There.  Got it off my chest.  Don’t worry, folks; I’m still here for ya!  I aim to be a voice advocating for our quiet and oppressed community.  But just how I refuse to aid someone in compulsions, I will also refuse to send you down the wrong corridor for help.  I’m doing this with the best interest of our community in mind, I promise.

My heart and energies and motivations rest in leading those in slavery toward freedom.  Know that.

18 thoughts on “I Confess

  1. Great post, Jackie, and of course it’s frustrating :). You see people suffering and you know their lives could be so much better if they would only do what they need to do. Boy, do I get that. And just because you have OCD doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get frustrated with others who have the same disorder. In many ways, I’m sure it’s more frustrating for you because you know exactly what they are going through, and exactly how to fix it! Keep doing what you are doing, because you are changing lives for the better!

  2. I second Janet – heck, I haven’t even completed ERP yet, but at the IOCDF conference this summer (when I was still wavering about committing to therapy) I found myself frustrated with people who had lived with it for YEARS (and known about it – I’m talking people in their 70s with a 20+ year diagnosis) and were still trying to get other answers. ALL the speakers I heard were very forceful about it, and even showed frustration at some times. I think it’s really normal. And your frustration comes out of deep compassion and desire for others’ freedom.

  3. Jackie! I took a break from this blog, and I missed it too much lol 🙂 does erp always work?? Does it work on things like counting and consciousness of swallowing/ blinking etc? My brain just can’t comprehend how you could stop from “compulsing” in situations like that (because you NEED to blink and swallow). I am such a hypochondriac and so scared :/

  4. Hi Jamie, I’m a fellow OCD sufferer and your fear hit my heart. I know that feeling of fear only too well. I thought sharing the following information regarding your concern might be of some help to you.

    The autonomic nervous system controls swallowing and blinking just like it does breathing. Swallowing and blinking are automatic functions of the body. When we go under water we consciously hold our breath. When our head is out of water our breathing resumes on automatic unless we make an other conscious effort to hold our breath. Same with blinking we can make a conscious effort to blink or try not to but if we don’t exert control it just happens automatically. Anxiety will cause our heart to go faster and our breathing, blinking and swallowing to become more rapid and then more aware to our consciousness. Monitoring those functions can serve to reduce the anxiety but can easily develop into habit. ERP can work on controlling things like counting and probably also the hyper-awareness of swallowing/blinking. The behavior of counting and hyper-awareness of body functions is a learned behavior. ERP can treat behaviors related to habitual patterns of thought. What ERP can NOT do is stop you from the ability to breath normally, swallow and blink because although you can have control it will always revert back to automatic pilot though your autonomic nervous system. I think the brain stem which controls automatic functions develops quite early in the fetus.
    I hope this info helps you to piece it together.

    I hope that if ERP is available you will take advantage of it. I just wish that I could get the therapy. I agree that it is scary but my thinking is that the treatment goes on a hierarchy of your fears so you can take it slowly. What I would not do is flooding. I think that is inhumane. I may have OCD but I’m not sadistic.

    Jackie, Thanks for being frustrated. Caregivers often suffer from frustration. It means you care a whole lot for us OCD people. On the other hand I am sorry for your having to experience the negativity of a caregiving especially after all you have gone through yourself.

    • Not sure how familiar you are with the term, Steve, but it’s when someone with OCD is made to face all their greatest triggers at once. Most ERP therapists work off a pyramid system … they have the client rank things from easiest to hardest, then they start with the easiest and work their way to the top. I think most people consider that a much better option vs. flooding.

    • I did, yes, to all your questions.

      My family had varied reactions: my mom was supportive and willing to talk about it; my dad was supportive and didn’t want to talk about it; my brother was not in favor of my doing ERP. My roommate was INCREDIBLY supportive, as well as my other friends.

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  9. Hi Jackie, I am so thankful I found this site!!! After years of doing fairly well religious ocd came out in full force. I kept rhinking Im on the fence or not fully committed to GOD that is why Im havinh these thoughts. It has all turned into legalism hell. Thinking how can I do erp when it involves ‘”sinful” things. My ocd then mixes up things that are wrong and not wrong so Im paralyzed to so anything.You have given me hope with your sucess with erp for rhe same ocd themes.Did you have people in your faith community give you advice against erp? Or say you its a spiritual matter? Thank you for your blog and response!

    • No one at my church or fellowship of believers was against my ERP. My brother, a Christian, was initially not into the idea, but now I think he would agree it was the best thing I could have done. You always have people who want you to just pray harder or spend more time in Scripture … those people have no idea how hard someone in our position has prayed already!! Nor would they ever say that to someone with cancer. 🙂 OCD is an illness, and ERP is the treatment. ❤

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