OCD Is Ruining My Life: What You Can Do

June 17, 2024

At some point in their journeys, people who live with OCD have thought: “OCD is ruining my life!” So many clients have come to our clinic looking for support for this very reason. OCD is so painful, and sometimes unbearable, to live with. It might be hard to imagine, now, that things could get any better.

I’m here to tell you that they can — with treatment, you can overcome time-consuming compulsions and lessen the power that intrusive thoughts have over you. There is no “cure” for OCD, but that doesn’t mean you’re powerless. There is hope for a better life. 

Today, let’s talk about what to do when OCD is ruining your life, and where to find effective treatment options.

Help! OCD is ruining my life

If you feel like OCD is ruining your life, you’re not alone. Most people with OCD have felt like this at some point or another. Regardless of what “type” of OCD you have, this disorder can have a way of stealing our time away from us and getting in the way of work, relationships, and happiness.

For example:

  • If you have contamination OCD, you might be spending so many hours disinfecting and cleaning that you feel you have no time for all the important things in life.
  • You may feel that hit-and-run OCD is ruining your life because you feel like you can no longer drive, which presents big problems in your work and social life.
  • Sexual orientation OCD can ruin your life when you worry about your identity from the moment you wake up to when you fall asleep (if you can fall asleep).
  • Many people with harm OCD feel like they can’t have healthy relationships with other people because of their intrusive fears that they’ll hurt or even kill them.

OCD symptoms can be so disruptive that many people with OCD start to struggle with suicidal thoughts. Research shows that people with OCD are more likely to experience suicidal thoughts and behaviors; 1 in 10 OCD patients attempt suicide, and over half have suicidal ideation at some point.

This saddens me because I know just how effective the right OCD treatment can be. The intrusive thoughts may not go away completely, but so many people go through OCD treatment and no longer feel that OCD is ruining their lives. I’ve witnessed it time and time again.

Although you may feel like life with OCD is unbearable now — and what you’re feeling is valid — things don’t need to be this way forever. There is hope, even if you’ve had a bad or unhelpful experience in therapy before.

What to do if OCD is ruining your life: 4 steps to take

If you feel overwhelmed with the stress, fear, and guilt that OCD can bring, and you feel like OCD is ruining your life by sabotaging your relationships, career/education, and social life, then the most important thing is to get treatment

OCD isn’t curable, but it’s treatable. This means that you may always have OCD, but you can get to a place where symptoms are no longer getting in the way of living the life that you want. Research shows that the most effective treatment for OCD, which is a type of therapy called exposure and response prevention (ERP), is up to 80% effective

Treatment and education can help you, just like it’s helped countless other people who live with OCD. Here are 4 steps you can take, including getting treatment, if OCD is ruining your life.

Step 1: Get educated

One of the best first steps you can take when you feel like your OCD symptoms are ruining your life is to educate yourself about this condition. OCD is a relatively common disorder that affects around 2% of the population. That means that, fortunately, there’s a lot of information out there on what OCD is and how you can cope with it.

Educating yourself about OCD and how it affects your brain can help you start to see it as what it is: a chronic health/neurological condition. In a sense, education weakens the “enemy” that is OCD. It helps you understand what’s happening to you and take on more of an observer perspective when you’re experiencing symptoms.

Keep in mind, however, that not all education is good education, especially on the internet. There is so much misinformation out there about OCD. So it’s important to make sure you get your information from a solid, reputable source. The OCD section on the Thrive Therapy blog is a good starting point, as well as the International OCD Foundation’s online resources.

Step 2: Look for a treatment program

Getting treatment is one of the best things you can do when you live with OCD. OCD does not go away on its own. You can’t ignore it and hope it’ll leave you alone. Without treatment, it may even get worse.

Not all treatment is created equal. ERP is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) that’s specifically used to treat OCD. ERP therapists help you learn to tolerate intrusive OCD thoughts so that they no longer hold the same power over you. In ERP, you learn to resist the urge to perform compulsions, which is the only way to truly break the OCD cycle. 

Many therapists say that they work with people with OCD, but be wary of treatment providers who aren’t able to specifically explain their expertise and experience. Some types of therapy, including general CBT (that’s often used for depression and anxiety), can actually make OCD symptoms worse. If you’ve seen a therapist before and found that it wasn’t helpful, it could be because your therapist didn’t really know how to treat OCD. It’s worth another shot.

If your OCD symptoms are so severe that they’re ruining your life, consider a more intensive treatment program, like an intensive outpatient program (IOP) for OCD. By participating in an IOP, you get access to a lot more support and guidance (for example, our IOP meets for 8 hours a day), which can be more effective for OCD than once-a-week therapy.

Step 3: Connect with more support

Treatment is a must, but it’s not the only type of support you need. Social support is one of the most important factors of mental resilience, which means that when you have loved ones around you to cheer you on, you’re much more likely to be able to bounce back from the obstacles that OCD puts in your way.

Identify the people in your life who you trust and can lean on in times of need. Tell them how they can support you in your OCD treatment journey. For example, maybe you need to ask them to refuse to give you reassurance when you compulsively ask for it. Maybe you simply need someone to sit on the phone with you as you work through obsessive thoughts.

You can also consider getting social support through a group therapy program or a support group for OCD. Using these options, you’re often able to meet others who are experiencing similar symptoms as you — which can help you feel less alone.

Step 4: Look at additional options for treatment

Lastly, once you’ve started a treatment program and gotten the support you need, consider other options that can help support you in living with OCD. For example, physical exercise has been shown to help significantly reduce OCD symptoms.

Whether or not to take psychiatric medication for OCD is a personal choice. Many people with OCD find that medication, alongside therapy, helps them manage their symptoms. Our therapists are happy to work with you to discuss treatment options and refer you to medication support if necessary.

Don’t let OCD ruin your life any longer

Untreated OCD can ruin lives, but you have the power to make a change. You may not be able to “cure” OCD completely, but it doesn’t need to be this bad forever. At Thrive Therapy PHX, many of our therapists specialize in OCD treatment. We’ve helped many of our clients overcome severe OCD, and we want to help you do the same.

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