Yes, you're an addict!

Amy, a CBT graduate & OCD Practitioner Programme trainee, guest writes on our blog and explains her interpretation of our concept of “AAA”

If you suffer from OCD it would be a safe bet to assume you are, or have been, an AAA (anti-anxiety addict). We will do almost anything to get relief from discomfort & it soon becomes a serious habit. Whether you are in the early stages of OCD or have been dealing with it for some time, we become increasingly intolerant to discomfort, i.e., anxiety. We will push our minds & bodies to get rid of it as quickly as possible, but there is one major problem with that. The relief never lasts & before we know it we are repeatedly engaging in compulsions & behaviours to relieve it. As with all addictions, compulsions are a very short fix that offers less relief over time. We become addicted to relieving our discomfort. There are many ways to get relief: rituals, avoidance, checking & reassurance seeking from friends, family, or the internet. Reassurance seeking can be so detrimental to recovery. We quickly develop rigid thought patterns but, we need to ask ourselves: have your elaborate thoughts & safety seeking rituals solved your discomfort? Invariably, the answer is ‘No!”. You can change this pattern & find a lasting solution to your anxiety. You can learn skills to abstain from your compulsions for longer periods of time until you stop responding at all. You can tolerate uncertainty & develop flexible thinking. Instead of black & white, yes or no, you can embrace “maybe”, “possibly”, “might”, “who knows!”. Perhaps start small by abstaining from a compulsion for 5 minutes. Sit with the discomfort. The wave of discomfort is essentially a 15 minute curve that reduces over time. Ride this wave & let those intrusive thoughts flow in & out. As you increase the time you can abstain, you will eventually reach the point where you don’t have to respond at all; the ultimate goal.

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