Why Is It So Difficult To Fight OCD?

This is so well put! And I agree with Janet: as I sometimes say, “When the hell of OCD is worse than the hell of ERP, you’ll be ready.” The only thing harder than ERP was living daily life with OCD, which made the therapy worth it. Now that I am about eight years out from my life-changing ERP experience, it is harder and harder for me to remember why I ever avoided it. Every single thing in my life improved via exposure therapy; it is one of the single greatest decisions I’ve ever made in my life.

If you are thinking about ERP but too scared to start, it’s okay. It will be there and available for you when you realize the scale has tipped– and that life with OCD is worse than the treatment, which, though difficult, has years of evidence showing it brings freedom.


by stuart miles freedigitalphotos.net by stuart miles freedigitalphotos.net

I’ve previously written about recovery avoidance in reference to obsessive-compulsive disorder, where those who have OCD refuse to embrace proper treatment and fight their disorder. In general, recovery avoidance is attributed to two things: fear and incentive. All things being equal, a person will not seek recovery unless the incentive to get better is stronger than the fear of getting better. Those who are familiar with exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy know that the thought of engaging in this treatment can be terrifying to people with obsessive-compulsive disorder; they are being asked to face their worst fears and refrain from completing compulsions that they believe, on some level, keep their world “safe.”

For those of us without OCD, this is often difficult to understand. While many of us can relate to experiences where we have had to face our fears, dealing with OCD seems to…

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Striking Out

It just occurred to me as I titled this post that “striking out” can be positive or negative.

I’m striking out on a new adventure! 🙂

I’m striking out on this revision. 😦

I am hopeful that I mean the former.

I had a weird night, mostly in that I didn’t sleep, not for one minute. I stayed up looking at clickbait, and then it was one am, then I stayed up reading, and then it was four am, and then I watched YouTube, and then it was six am, and then the sun was up and I wasn’t tired whatsoever, so I got up, went downstairs, and now I’m on my computer, and it’s seven-thirty am, and I just yawned. This is my life.

Anyway, I’m diving into a new revision today. I plotted and prayed (and need to do more of both, I’m sure), but long-time blog readers will know that too much plotting destroys my soul and the soul of my stories, so I’m walking into the battlefield mostly unarmed.

Writing takes so much courage. It costs me just to open up my document.

And even though I prefer going in with just a minimal plan, it’s still really, really scary. (Maybe even scarier? I hate to pit plotters and pantsers against each other. Writing– period– is just really hard and vulnerable and frightening– period.)

Think of me today.


EMDR Update

So. Wow.

I’ve not been well. Lots of anxiety triggered by publishing conversations had left me feeling brutally over-sensitive and emotionally frayed and once again reconsidering if publishing was something I still want. I’d hurt my neck (it felt similar to whiplash but without the inciting incident), and mornings were hard.

Wednesday, I could barely crawl out of bed. But I did. Mostly because it was the day of my beloved coworker’s goodbye party, and I was speaking at it.

I did NOT want to go to therapy that night, but of course I could tell I clearly needed it. I went.

We spent about a half hour discussing my week and then about a half hour doing bilateral stimulation during which I had to “play a movie in my head” of positive thoughts: “I’m a good writer and I’m learning to be better” was my first mantra. Every minute or so, my therapist would stop to ask me how things were going, how I was feeling, and to rank how TRUE that felt on a scale of 1 to 7.  I started at a 2.

My mantra morphed over the time and with the help of my therapist. Eventually I quit thinking exclusively about publishing and writing and was telling myself positive things about how my friends and family see me. I watched my rating rise from a 2 to a 5 in the course of a half hour. And I MEANT IT. I was honestly considering myself and my feelings each time and my attitude truly improved.

By the end, I wasn’t really repeating a mantra, per se, but I had this memory from years ago. Bear with me. It’s going to sound weird. (Even I think so!)

It was years ago. I was at my summer camp as a counselor, and we were presented with this activity I REALLY didn’t want to do. In it, members of our coed team of campers for the week would one by one climb into a sled, just a plastic one like you could get for five bucks in the winter. Then the rest of the team would lift the sled (with the team member in it) above their heads while praying for the person.

If this sounds straight out of a cult handbook, I assure you it’s not. I also was not excited about it and didn’t want to take my turn. But I did.

And it was amazing.

I spent just a few minutes LITERALLY lifted up to God by people who were LITERALLY supporting me. It was like being in another stratosphere for a few minutes, reaching toward God, semi hearing the prayers of people below me but also feeling interestingly separate from them. It’s hard to explain. It was very special. I thought of that at EMDR while the bilateral stimulation device buzzed back and forth between my two fists. I started to relax.

When I left therapy, I got into my car, twisted in my seat to check behind me as I backed out, and thus realized . . . My neck didn’t hurt. I rolled my head around, checking. It really didn’t hurt. It had hurt just an hour before.

The next day, I managed multiple emails with my agent and a phone call with my editor with very minimal anxiety. Almost NONE. It was just thoughtful conversation between creative people working on a project, not a meltdown inducing panic session. I realized that is what publishing is like for most people. It was beautiful and almost entirely foreign to me, even after getting my book deal almost 2.5 years ago.

I’m not banking on it lasting, but I will take it for now. And I will keep pursuing EMDR. Whatever happened on Wednesday night, I was a different person walking into my therapist’s office than I was walking out.

I’m excited to work on my novel this weekend. That feels so good to say.

24th May 2016: The Australian cover

Melina Marchetta

9780670079100(release date  1st September)

Chief Inspector Bish Ortley of the London Met, divorced and still grieving the death of his son, has been drowning his anger in Scotch. Something has to give, and he’s no sooner suspended from the force than  a busload of British students is subject to a deadly bomb attack across the Channel. Bish’s daughter is one of those on board.

 Also on the bus is Violette LeBrac. Raised in Australia, Violette has a troubled background. Thirteen years ago her grandfather bombed a London supermarket, killing dozens of people. Her mother, Noor, is serving a life sentence in connection with the incident. But before Violette’s part in the French tragedy can be established, she disappears.

Bish, who was involved in Noor LeBrac’s arrest, is now compelled to question everything that happened back then. And the more he delves into the lives of the family he helped put…

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Perspective in Three Parts


I keep letting a piece of my identity wipe out and overshadow the whole rest of my identity.


This is still nothing compared to the old dark days of OCD.


Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing frighten you,
All things are passing away:
God never changes.
Patience obtains all things
Whoever has God lacks nothing;
God alone suffices.

— St. Teresa of Avila


Expectations vs. Reality

I just sent myself a letter five years into the future about what my expectations of being a published author were versus what my reality looks like. The chasm is vast and disappointing, and I needed to write this letter just to put it down in words and to cast it into the future with the wild hope that I won’t always be as lost as I feel right now.

My friend Kathy Ellen recently posted this on one of her Instagram accounts:

great mail day

It made me think.

What if the thing that has made me unhappiest is also the thing that has made me happiest?

Do you run to or from a paradox?

OCD Twin Cities News & Events

We have a lot coming up!

This Sunday, May 22, join us for a friends and family event. If you haven’t already RSVPed, do so now–and you can always come without RSVPing, but you’ll be responsible for your own bill. We want to see you!

What: Friends and Family Event
When: Sunday, May 22, 5 to 8 p.m.
Where: Bulldog NE, 401 East Hennepin, Minneapolis MN 55414
On Monday, May 23, Rogers Behavioral Health will open a child and adolescent program, to be followed at a later date by an adult program. Schedule a screening by calling 844-599-8959 or visiting rogersbh.org.

On Saturday, June 4, join us for an OCD awareness walk, part of the 1 Million Steps 4 OCD Walk hosted by the International OCD Foundation in Boston each year.

Join our team or just show up: https://www.crowdrise.com/alisondotson-1million4ocd2016-virtual/fundraiser/alisondotson. There won’t be a registration booth, so I’ll just be holding a sign alerting you to our group. If you earned a T-shirt, we hope you wear it!

What: OCD Awareness Walk
When: Saturday, June 4, 9 a.m.
Where: The pavilion at Lake Calhoun, 2707 Lake Street W., Minneapolis, MN 55416
On Thursday, June 16, Rogers Behavioral Health is hosting an open house at their new Twin Cities location. RSVP at RSVP@rogersbh.org by June 9.

What: Open house at Rogers Behavioral Health
When: Thursday, June 16, 4 to 6:30 p.m.
Where: Rogers Behavioral Health–Minneapolis, 6442 City West Parkway, Suite 200, Eden Prairie, MN 55344
We hope to see you at one of these upcoming events.

Alison Dotson, President, OCD Twin Cities