Like most mental illnesses, results from treatment vary depending on the individual. For me, this has been the only type of treatment that has yielded lasting results. I can safely say that I have had my OCD and all of my other disorders that fall into that spectrum, pretty much in check for about three years now. Mind you, it hasn't been perfect. I've had set backs. Remember this is a chronic illness that has no cure so you will have bad days but over all, I have felt better these last three years than I have ever felt before. When I do have set backs, I recuperate pretty quickly, like in a matter of hours to days, rather than weeks and months. I was just thinking last night that I can not believe I have spent 98% of my life in such fear and almost can't even relate to it anymore. Its like I have a memory of my anxiety but don't feel it anymore. Its quite a surreal feeling since I'm 40 years old now and I started having panic attacks at age 6.
Self awareness has been the key to my steady remission. It has worked better than any cognitive therapy, general therapy, medications, etc. I have come to terms with my mental illness and I now recognize it for what it is. For instance, I know I am obsessing when I have a repetitive, intrusive thought, that makes me feel negatively. I immediately label it in my mind as a symptom of my disease and my brain then refuses to listen to it. Its fake, phony, a lie, so why would I waste my time listening and reacting to it? I am big on logic and I respond to it quickly so when I explain the obsessive thought that way in my mind, my brain releases it. Its put in a junk compartment because that's exactly what it is. Junk.
Its not difficult to identify the thought that's the culprit either. Its always some exaggerated, non realistic, "crazy" thought but wait....sometimes they are very good at trying to convince you that they are real and that's where the trouble comes in. For example, today me and my husband went out to lunch and shopping. My OCD reared its ugly head and I asked him, half way to the store, if he had turned off the coffee machine. He said he had turned it off but a panic rose in me and I felt a compulsion to tell him to turn the car around so I could check for myself. Its the most uncomfortable feeling in the world. I was sweaty and couldn't concentrate on anything around me as the fear and obsession took over. My heart was hammering but I rode through it. I didn't react to it because I already knew, however real this thing my brain was telling me was, it wasn't. It was a load of crap. I immediately told my brain, I wasn't listening, I wasn't turning back and I would stop thinking about this. I would accept my husbands answer, like a normal person would. If he made a mistake and he left it on, then so be it but I refuse to live on my knees to these thoughts anymore. What ifs will always be there so reacting to them is futile. I knew that it was a 99.9% chance that my husband had turned off the machine so why make myself a salve to the .001% for?
There comes a time when you really have to stand up to your disease and stop letting it bully you. This is no way to live. As long as we are sane and not psychotic or catatonic or whatever, we can get control and we must. Exposing these thoughts for the lies they are, has an enormous amount of power. Once you know what something is, you know its name and its nature, then you can beat it. We are ultimately in control of reacting to these lies. The lies are an illness we can't control but our reactions to them are totally in our control. Kill the compulsion and you ultimately kill the obsession because they feed off each other. The more control you take back, the more you have.