A few months ago, I hit a point in my life where I realised that while the anti-depressants were helping my anxiety, it was making it known to me that I had other issues to deal with. Suddenly I was more aware of routines I was doing that I hadn't even realised were happening. Such as washing my hands before and after going to the toilet. And also having to wash them with two pumps of soap, water and then two more pumps of soap and water to make sure they were clean.
That was just one of the things I noticed myself doing and thus I self-referred myself for online therapy. I've done CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) in person before and it did help at the beginning by the last few sessions I was lying to the therapist because it was easier than feeling like a failure because I couldn't do something.
I thought this time would be different.
I'm not sure why but I just thought that it would be. Because I needed so badly to get better. And therapy just felt like the last straw for me. If this didn't work, I wasn't sure what else was left.
Obviously if you read the title of this post then you know that therapy didn't work but it also did. In a way that I definitely wasn't expecting.
I started therapy about three weeks after referring myself which was amazing. I was officially diagnosed with OCD and that part of therapy was, well, very theraputic. I suddenly understood so much of my life. Those teenage years that I thought I was just being, well, an angsty teenager? I was actually just struggling with undiagnosed OCD. So many little things in my life that I didn't even know were habits made so much more sense to me. Fears that I have about odd things, it all just sort of connected in my brain and I have to admit, it made me feel so much better. I suddenly had a reason for things.
Of course, just being diagnosed is not the end of the journey.
And thus my therapist and I started to tackle my OCD, tried to stop routines and habits using CBT techniques to re-train my brain. To let it know that everything will be okay.
It wasn't easy. But I also didn't expect it to be easy.
I was making really good progress and I was proud of myself. And then we hit a road block. I gave myself a behaviour to overcome that I essentially found too difficult to do. And I knew I could tell the therapist that I had done it and it was fine but I didn't want to lie again.
So instead I was truthful. Explaining that I had been too tired and busy to psyche myself up enough to break the behaviour down.
That maybe therapy isn't the right thing for me right now. That if I was too busy, maybe I should take a step back and re-refer myself when I felt more able to complete the tasks.
Queue my panic. My worry. My sadness. I was not cureable. I was going to be stuck struggling through day to day life forever. I was not worth the time to fix. I was just wasting everybody's time, including my own.
Recurring thoughts. Round and round. Spiralling out of control. I really struggled after hearing that. I had needed therapy to work. I had wanted to be truthful and get everything out in the open and I was told that I just wasn't trying hard enough so essentially didn't care enough about my own recovery. And that is where my brain took me and things got worse.
Until they didn't.
Until I realised that, at the end of the day, I am in control of my mental health. It does not control me. And I do not need a therapist to make me believe that I am a lost cause. I also do not need a therapist to help me.
Because I have incredible friends and incredible strength. I know what my routines are, I know what I need to do to break them down and so I am now doing that. I no longer wash my hands before every single meal. I don't even wash my hands before eating finger food. I know that sometimes I still feel I need to but just the fact I don't every time is a major step for me.
I also don't wash my hands as much as I did.
I have cooked in my microwave again.
I have eaten off of plates that haven't just been cleaned.
They are small steps. Small things. And things that other people may not even think about. But to me, they are milestones. They are things that I have overcome. Challenges that I have completed without therapy. Because I am strong enough.
And so are you.
(Therapy did not work for me. But that does not mean it will not work for you. So please always try it. Without therapy I would not have the tools to help me continue fighting alone.)