OCD came to my life when I was 8 years old, and for a while, it controlled my every breath.
Yes, I have OCD. No, being a neat freak does not mean you have this condition. And most importantly, it's not contagious.
Now that we've gotten the important stuff clarified, let's get to the point of this article: how to live with OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder). This condition is a strong disorder with the potential to destroy lives. The good news? It's controllable. The even better news? It's controllable even without the expensive meds that are so commonly prescribed today.
My story begins as a small child. OCD came to my life when I was 8 years old, and for a while it controlled my every breath. It dictated what I could eat, how I could eat it, and how at ease I should feel with myself. It also dictated the smaller stuff in my life, such as how many times I should close a door to feel tranquility, and how many times (and how hard) I should wash my hands to feel as if I had defeated death. Silly? Absolutely. Serious? Even more.
But let's get to the point. With the help of my ever-loving mother, I learned to "shoo" away the burning, anxious thoughts that frequently came to my mind courtesy of OCD.
How to Control OCD
What my mother taught me has stuck with me like melted gum. She taught me that while I am not 100% responsible for my thoughts, I am 100% responsible for my actions. What this means is that no matter how crazy and uncontrollable things get inside your head, you don't have to act on your thoughts. This made me feel powerful and gave me a sense of control. She compared thoughts to friends. If you like a friend (thought) you can do what it is asking of you. If you don't like a friend, you can say, "I don't want to play with you right now," and ask it to go away. I knew I didn't like my OCD "friends." I hated them for making me do silly stuff I didn't want to do. But an OCD thought is not easy to shoo away. They're very stubborn, and they'll persist until you make it very clear to them that you will not give in.
Let me give you an example. One day, while watching television, a car wreck scene suddenly popped in the movie I was watching. Right away, OCD told me: "Go wash your hands, or else this will happen to a person you love." To a person with normal brain activity, these two things are completely unrelated, but a person with OCD knows how absurdly real these things can feel. I remembered what my mother told me: there is always more than one choice. I could either listen to my OCD, or I could decide to not be "friends" with this ridiculous thought. I decided on the latter. However, the thought persisted, and persisted, and persisted. What to do now?
Have an Escape Activity
My wise mother promised that if I had a bad thought I wanted to make disappear I could choose to do any of my favorite activities. She had me write a list of my favorite things to do. I was to carry this list with me at all times and take it out whenever the bad thoughts refused to leave. The purpose of this list was to engage myself in an activity that would distract my mind from what was going on inside. When it came to this, my mother became rather indulgent. She allowed me to do whatever would help me rid my head of those silly thoughts. I think this was partly because she was also suffering when she saw me engage in these very abnormal behaviors.
Although having a list is helpful, my advice is that you have a specific activity as an escape route. My favorite escape activity as a child was running and yelling (at the same time). This helped me release some of the burning sensation and anxiety I felt in my chest while experiencing OCD thoughts. Of course, there have to be different specific activities for different times. Why? Because I could not run and yell while I was in class or anywhere else that required complete and utter silence. So while I was in school, my escape activity was rapidly flicking my fingers, and concentrating on the movement and how it felt on my hands. The more anxious I was feeling, the faster and stronger the flicking became.
Sometimes, I gently hit the side of my head to symbolically push the bad thought out. I imagine the thought yelling and screaming, holding on to whatever it grabs while coming out of one of my ears. Then I picture it on the ground, begging for mercy, and asking to return to my head, since it is the only environment where it can live. And then I smash it with my foot. I kill it mercilessly with my entire weight, and then I twist my foot. I quite enjoy imagining bad thoughts suffering an inevitable and painful demise.
Imagine yourself also killing these bad thoughts. Make it funny—make it feel real.
Ignore, Ignore, Ignore
The most important aspect of controlling OCD is ignoring it. Treat it as an annoying friend. Ignore its calls, emails, and voicemails. Whenever it tells you to do something crazy, tell OCD how you feel about it and how ill you think of it. Write it a nasty letter and insult it as much as you want. But always make it clear to it that you will not give in to its ridiculous requests.
OCD has largely left my life now. But it still makes a comeback every now and then. It shows up with its ridiculous, whiny voice, and tests me with a small, but preposterous request. And just like an annoying friend, if I give in to that small request, it will start asking bigger, more preposterous things. My advice? Don't listen to its request, regardless of how minute and small it seems. Sometimes, OCD asks me to check if I locked my door, or if I unplugged my iron, even though I know I did. I kick the thought out, and smile while telling OCD "I am bigger and better than you. You can't live without my help. So die, idiot, die!!!"
The Fight With OCD
Learning to control OCD is not easy. It is probably one of the hardest things I have done, and in fact, I'm still working on it. It is a constant fight. And yes, sometimes you may fall and give in to it. But don't give up. The fight is completely worth it, and life is a lot more livable after this terrible enemy leaves your head. Continue, and know that you are not alone. There are many of us suffering with this terrible monster. Never give up fighting. Never give up hope.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Hayden Quinn on February 17, 2016:
Late to the party but brilliant hub! Your mum sounds like a hero. The illustrations are great too. I'm glad you found ways to deal with it.
Hendrika from Pretoria, South Africa on September 06, 2014:
Thank you for this. I suppose I do not really "qualify" for OCD as it is only ridiculous thoughts that keep repeating in my mind. Still I think implementing your ideas will even help for that as well.
Silver Q (author) on October 11, 2013:
Thank you for reading! I wouldn't know if you have OCD or not. I hope you don't have it because it is just absolutely terrible. OCD manifest itself, not only in thoughts, but actions as well. OCD is way more than just annoying thoughts. It's anxiety ready to burst out of your chest if you don't act on the rituals and repetitive actions you have set for yourself. Once again thank you for reading!
Remy on October 10, 2013:
I think I've had OCD for a few years now but I've always been able to control it "if it is in fact OCD " my thought are usually having to have everything straight and the feel of certain things annoy me and random things drive me crazy . cleaning for me isn't that bad most of the time but sometime the urge to clean just comes over me and I can't stop . I think I also have sexual OCD . basically in a but shell the things that go on inside my head make me feel crazy at certain points like thoughts I can't can't control on the inside but have full control of on the outside
Silver Q (author) on July 26, 2013:
Yes, OCD is a real pain everywhere! Thanks for reading!
jimmytrix on July 26, 2013:
Nice hub, OCD is such pain in the butt to live with.
Silver Q (author) on April 05, 2013:
Hi Jennifer B!
I'm so glad you found this useful. Don't give up! I know it's a horrible, horrible thing to go through, but never give up the fight. You will win the fight if you continue with it!
Jennifer Bart from Texas on April 05, 2013:
THANK YOU!!! I love this!!! You have so much courage to share your struggle with us!!! I am so inspired by this!!! I too have ocd!!! I understand the struggle and how it effects daily life!!!! I am currently on medication and in therapy. I have to say I can't wait to try your tips as my ocd is still bad! I am so glad I came across this. I admire your strength!!! So many times in my life I felt like giving up the fight against ocd. It is so refreshing to know that I am not alone in my struggle and once again thank you!!!!
Silver Q (author) on February 16, 2013:
That's the beauty of the internet! We can now diagnose ourselves better than any doctor ever could! lol
Thanks for reading!
Meggan Tropos from United States on February 16, 2013:
Love the cartoons! My son has an obsessive need to take online surveys - so far he has determined he does not have cancer, ADHD, etc but he does have OCD (according to the site). Lol! Thanks for shedding some light on what can be a stressful situation!
Silver Q (author) on December 24, 2012:
Thank you gsidley for your comment! You're right, ignoring those intrusive thoughts is essential in fighting OCD. And even though ignoring is tremendously difficult to do, the benefits outweigh the pain!
Dr. Gary L. Sidley from Lancashire, England on December 24, 2012:
A really interesting hub.
Your mother gave very sensible advice. Intrusive thoughts are commonplace in the general population, but the key is the meanings you attach to them. Believe that you have to act on them, and the risk of full-blown OCD is high; ignore them, and the anxiety will not stay high for long.
rum rum on July 18, 2012:
good tips dear... im also suffering its reallie difficult to fight.. mostly i get trapped to those thoughts....
JessMcCray from NYC on April 25, 2012:
Great tips. My father has a bad case of OCD and while I do have it's nothing like what you or my father has experienced. I applaud your efforts, OCD can be debilitating and you have worked so hard for it not to be that way for you and you can definitely help others
Silver Q (author) on April 24, 2012:
Thank you very much for your kind word! My mother's advice and methods were amazingly helpful in controlling my OCD. I am super thankful to her!
Thank you again for reading!
Jessee R from Gurgaon, India on April 24, 2012:
Hat's off and a bow to your mother for such exemplary and wise measures...
these measures sound so complex but yet are so effective!
Great hub! Great info