The most difficult thing with OCD, is resisting the urge to follow through with a compulsive behavior. It is so emotionally painful, that the need to obtain immediate relief from the emotional torture is too much, and you are forced to just give in.
But, the remarkable sensation that courses through my body when I finally do take a leap of faith and fully resist my OCD bully brain – is undeniably amazing.
At first, it stings, a lot, like getting a massive emotional shot to the heart, but then it gradually feels better, to the point, it doesn’t hurt anymore. It’s as if the fear was worse than the actual experience. Once released from the agonizing grip of OCD, clarity sets in, and the mind is at ease again. I believe that remembering such an experience, helps develop self-confidence, and the more confidence you build, the easier, over time, it is to overcome your OCD bully brain!
The Dreaded OCD Crutch
Earlier this year, we bought a vehicle dash camera for the family car. Surprisingly, not for the purpose of my OCD, but more so, for my husband to use on his long drives into the city. Anyway, I knew when I bought it, I feared I would back-track on all my progress overcoming my irrational OCD fears about driving.
In my opinion, a dash camera is an OCD crutch used as reassurance for the OCD brain, allowing one to calm their anxiety while driving and later check to make sure all, in fact, was well. Overall, it’s a bad habit that doesn’t benefit anyone suffering from OCD. It makes OCD worse, because you lose all confidence in yourself. Confidence in which your OCD bully brain doesn’t want you to have- because self-confidence is power against the OCD bully brain.
My OCD Itch
For a long time, I managed to keep the dash camera nicely tucked away in its cozy case in the glove box, going on with my business without an OCD care in the world. But, I guess you can say, I eventually got the OCD itch….
I really didn’t start using the dash camera for my OCD, until I began driving my kiddo back and forth to school. There is just so much anxiety having to drive through a school parking lot surrounded by kids, teachers, parents and pets (oh yes, pets- who brings their pets to school?).
Kids on bikes scare me the most, because they are the most unpredictable. They tend to pop out of no-where, as if they just came through an unexpected worm-hole! Teachers stomp through the parking lot as if they are invincible to cars. And, then there are some parents recklessly driving through the parking lot with places to go, people to see, and jobs to get to on time. So, it’s quite understandable that my quirky Fight or Flight Response System is on high alert, sounding off a constant emergency alarm!
So, like any rational person with an irrational OCD brain, I began using the dash camera.
A Destructive Decision
At some point, my sneaky OCD bully brain convinced me that I should probably use the dash camera as a “precautionary” measure against “crazy in-a-hurry drivers” who don’t know how to drive. IT WAS A LIE! My OCD bully brain wanted to strip away self-confidence and replace it with self-doubt! That’s it’s evil plan!
Using the dash camera on a daily basis was a destructive decision against the war effort on OCD. After a few days, I started to become dependent on the dash camera. No matter where I went, whether it was driving a few miles to the school or just around the corner to check the mail, I needed it!
Without the dash camera, I find myself circling parking lots to reassure myself everyone is safe. I will waste gas to double back to reassure myself that I didn’t cause a wreck or something. But, the worst, in which I finally realized I had a problem, is when I began lying to my family, about the need to go somewhere when there really wasn’t a need to go anywhere- I just wanted reassurance. Or, lying to my husband, after getting back from the grocery store, that it took me longer to get home, because “the car sounded funny and I just wanted to drive around to make sure it wasn’t anything serious;” when in fact, I was just doubling back to ease my OCD brain.
I shouldn’t have to lie. My husband knows I have OCD. But, after overcoming so many OCD fears, I am a bit embarrassed when I regress like this; even though, it is okay to take a few steps back sometimes. I am not perfect.
When All Confidence Is Lost
What is certain, is that I must knick this in the butt as soon as I can, because once all my self-confidence is lost, my OCD bully brain wins. Self-confidence is extremely important in overcoming my OCD fears.
When all self-confidence is lost, extreme self-doubt will attempt to distort reality-it’s scary and emotionally exhausting. It doesn’t matter what anybody says, the OCD bully brain takes hold and does a remarkable job of convincing you that you are terrible person. Self-doubt can be so powerful, nothing is reassuring, not even real footage on a dash camera. You eventually begin to question your sanity, as you dwell over and over on what it was that might or might not have happened. Not knowing for sure, increases all the emotions inside, building anxiety, and causing overwhelming emotional suffering.
My first two years with OCD was like this and I NEVER EVER want to have such an experience like that EVER again!
Difficulties Letting Go
The memory card for the dash camera is completely full and yet, this weekend, I was unable to delete it, in fear, something of great importance was on it. “What-if” thinking set in. What if something bad happens, if I delete it?
Of course, I can just let it be, for that new videos will eventually override the old videos, but that often corrupts the memory card and memory cards are expensive- at least this one was; I later learned that I totally overpaid for it. The memory card (SD card) for the dash camera, cost me about $30, and is the size of my thumb nail (and I have tiny thumbs)! That’s crazy!
Massive Dose Of Exposure Therapy Today
This weekend, I made an executive decision against my OCD bully brain, that I was going to limit the use of the dash camera. The initial plan was to stop using the dash camera every time I drive somewhere; unless, it is somewhere, where I should probably use it, like trips to the school, because, that’s rationally reasonable, considering all the crazy traffic. Also, I planned to completely resist the urge to do any checking, when I do use the dash camera. Well, that plan backfired on me this morning- because I had no dash camera to use!
This weekend, like every other weekend, I had brought the dash camera inside the house to re-format the SD card (delete files) to start fresh for a new week. I failed miserably of course, due to my OCD fears. However, this morning, rushing out the door to get my kiddo to school, I forgot about it and I didn’t have time to go back inside and search for it- because it wasn’t where it was suppose to be (figures, right?). So, I had to drive my kiddo to school without the comforting reassurance of a dash camera.
I was super anxious at first, but I reminded myself to breathe (deep breaths) and reassure myself everything is going to be okay. Then, one by one, practice the 5 most important things I have learned so far about overcoming my OCD.
- Self-Confidence: I reminded myself that I am a good driver and a good person.
- Acceptance: I must accept the situation of not having a dash camera and also, make the best of it with a positive attitude.
- Faith: I must believe in myself. Also, there is always a reason as to why things happen. The Universe doesn’t want me to use the dash camera; obviously, otherwise, I would have had time to find it. The Universe is helping me overcome my OCD fears.
- Stress-Management: Breathe. Deep Breaths. There is nothing to be anxious about, for that I am familiar with the road and the usual traffic.
- Mindfulness: When the brain goes on auto-pilot while driving, we sometimes forget what happens between Point A and Point B of our trip. Sometimes, not remembering our drive (even though there was nothing significant to remember) can trigger an OCD episode. Today, I knew I had to be 100% in the moment with my driving, so that I didn’t later question my driving. Every time the mind began to drift, I redirected my full attention to my driving.
When I got back home….I was okay! I had no need or urge to double back to make sure the world was still okay. I also found the dash camera and finally deleted the files to start a new week.
In the future, I still intend to use the dash camera, but only if I am driving to places with a lot of traffic. I also plan to resist the urge for reassurance with the dash camera (no compulsive checking). It will take time and practice, but I am confident in myself, that I got this!!