It struck me the other day, that even though Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD, is classified as a mental disorder, there is something that is very physical about it. If you can change your thought patterns, through a lot exertion which seems to be physical in nature, your OCD symptoms decrease.
Changing those obsessive thoughts is the trick, and even though it is a mental effort, it can be looked on as a physical one, because it is a lot of work. Like I pointed out in another article, you have to engage your mind in an activity that is totally different than whatever you are obsessing about. It is like thinking outside of yourself, or not having yourself as the object of attention.
I am not talking about the good kind of attention, like watching your nutrition, doing exercise or just relaxing because you need it. I am talking of course about the negative kind of attention, the OCD kind in which you watch your thoughts run around in circles with no rhyme nor reason. It's that famous fire alarm going off in your brain when there is no fire. Take yourself outside of yourself, or rather turn your eyes outward instead of inward, because the inward part is where you run into trouble for all you OCDers. At least this the way I view it.
One way I have discovered in the context of thinking outside of yourself is to write poetry. I have started doing it regularly; it's enjoyable and keeps those creative juices flowing. Some of the poems have caused me to really work, but the efforts paid off in the end, I believe. Others have been done in haste, but were worthwhile. Sometimes I find myself thinking about what I am going to write the next day.
All of this may sound very simplistic, but my experience indicates that it does help. Writing, painting, gardening, and a myriad of other things will draw you away from those twists and turns of your mind.
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What you write here, about OCD being somewhat physical in nature, reminds me of something my therapist told me in the very beginning when I started treatment for my OCD: "You can't change your thoughts. You can't change your feelings. But you CAN change your behavior." Through mental exertion alone we often can't change what we are thinking about or how we feel about something, but we can change how we react to those thoughts and feelings through our behavior, and your post reminded me of that! For instance, instead of engaging in mental rituals, trying to reassure myself that I washed or washed in the right way, I can read your writing about OCD and comment on it :).
I just discovered this site and your posts by chance today, and I look forward to reading more!August 11, 2010 - 5:35pm