It's horrible, I know. And I'm so sorry you are in the middle of it. The best way to get through it, the fastest way (and this way seems like forever when you're in the middle of it) is a combination of CBT and medication. Some people hate meds and are afraid if them, but OCD is one of the major disorders that responds well to SSRIs. I've been in CBT for many years, and it's great, but in the middle of March I went into horrible, tortuous, intrusive thoughts. I got a referral to a pdoc and he dx'd me with OCD, GAD, and then as a result of those, Major Depressive Disorder. He put me on prozac 21 days ago (I've counted every day) and I'm much better now. I have little kids I love very much, and a terrific wife, so in my darkest depression I said that ***** was off the table. But I also said(to myself) that if I had to live like that for six months, I wasn't ruling anything out. I just couldn't take it.
But three weeks after going on meds and continuing CBT I'm not 100%, but I'm far enough along that if I had to live exactly as I am today! I could handle it for the rest of my natural life. And I'm confident that I'll continue to improve.
So that's my actual advice. But I'm lucky, I live in a major city that's crawling with great therapists and pdocs, and I have good insurance. If you can't swing all the treatment you need financially, call a local college and see if they have a graduate psychology department and almost always that have people learning CBT who need patients to learn on. And let me tell you, this kind of disorder is gold to them. Usually they have a nominal fee(which has been shown to be more effective to treatment than free treatment) of like $10 or $20.
Now if there's just no way for you to get treatment that way, google CBT + ***** and see if you can get treatment online. Anything helps, though meds would be better.
Okay, if you just can't get treatment, my advice is to:
1. Distract yourself any way you can (though I'd stay away from self medicating). Go for a drive, a jog. I've heard that swimming is an excellent way to quiet your mind. Plus you can buy an iPod nano that's waterproof a and listen to music, podcasts, or a book while you swim.
2. Identify obsessive thoughts. This is an important step. Once you consistently identify them, you can begin separating them from reality. Remember: thoughts are not reality, and obsessive thoughts are not even thoughts, they're obsessions.
3. Treat your obsessive thoughts with no respect. It's best to ignore them altogether. They aren't worth having. But how can you do that? Well, people who aren't suffering with OCD do it all the time, so it can be done. But for us, it's different, especially when you are in the middle of it as you are. I treat my intrusive thoughts by being silly. Do you see my avatar? It's a small plastic lizard I carry in my pocket all the time. He represents my OCD. I once described my OCD to my pdoc as a sleeping dragon. Whenever some anxiety thought popped into my mind my OCDragon would roar to life and terrorize me. He said that we were going to take that dragon, and make him into a small lizard. So that's my lizard. When an intrusive thought starts, I pull him out of my pocket, set him on a desk and say, "really? Really?! THIS is what you want me to obsess over? Give me a break." Or something similar. Then I put him in my pocket and get on with whatever I'm doing. If it seems silly, that's the point. Sometimes the OCD is weird and silly, like you might suddenly be afraid that you've forgotten the truth about traffic lights. Does red mean go? Does green mean stop? What if I'm doing it wrong? But sometimes the OCD is horrific, what if I want to kill my puppy? Do I want to kill my puppy? I don't think so, but what if the reason I'm questioning myself is that I actually do want to snap his little neck? Why'd I think that? Am I a terrible person? Have I ever killed a puppy? Maybe I've forgotten, but maybe I did when I was a kid? Maybe I'm a serial killer who just hasn't started yet? And so on. Terrifying. But there's no real difference between the two. Content is not important, they're just intrusive thoughts. They tap into our fears and doubts the same way, they torture us. With either one of those thoughts, as soon as I started having them, I'd pull out my lizard and yell at it for bugging me. The number one enemy of intrusive thinking is our ability to mock it. Take away it's power by finding away to laugh it, to treat it silly. It might make you feel foolish at first, after all these are big scary thoughts. But they are bullies. Try bullying them.
4.journal.write down your thoughts, your intrusive thoughts. But then identify what cognitive distortions are coming into play. Here's a decent list of cognitive distortions:https://www.im4us.org/dl126
Identifying and labeling them is important, because it helps separate them from reality. And then, try to honestly assess the reality, without the cognitive distortion.
Thought: I'm going crazy. Cognitive distortion: catastrophization, magnification. I'm cherry picking the worst, most anxious thoughts I have during the day and on that basis I'm predicting that I'm almost ready to be locked in a mental hospital and that I'll never recover. Reality: my OCD is twisting all my thoughts to fit the mould it wants them to fit into, that I'm going crazy. The reality is that I'm suffering from OCD and these thoughts are not reality, they are OCD thoughts. They're whole job is to tap,into my anxiety and make me suffer, that's how the OCD survives. In reality, if I took a pill that made me forget these obsessive thoughts, and only these obsessive thoughts, I wouldn't think I was going crazy.thoughts are not reality.
5. Patience: this stuff takes time. It feels like you are getting nowhere, slowly. It's going to feel like you're filling up a salt shaker one grain of salt per day. And worse, every few days something is going to knock over the shaker and a few grains will spill out. But eventually, and sooner than you now think, you'll have more salt in the shaker than not and you'll realize you're getting better.
6. I can not stress enough how much easier it is with treatment and meds. I strongly urge you to find a way.
7. This is just temporary. Remember this. Write it on a post it note and look at it when you need to.
I mean that.
8. How's your sleep? A rested mind is very important. I wouldn't take ambien if I were you (take it from someone who took lots and lots of ambien.) if you can't sleep and need meds, Trazodone is a good one. At higher doses, like 400mg, it's an anti depressant. But at a lower dose, say 50-100mg it's an off label sedative. It's non habit forming. Just makes you drowsy. But again, that's something you'd need treatment to get.
I hope this helps in any way. OCD is pernicious and terrible, but it is treatable. And what your experiencing now is temporary. It WILL get better.
I'm sending you strength and love