What I’ve Learned in My Years Treating OCD
An OCD specialist shares key insights from her years of helping people overcome anxiety.
Written by Beth Brawley
01 Beth is a therapist who specializes in OCD, BFRB’s, and anxiety disorders. She is based in Missouri.
02 Throughout her career, she's found OCD sufferers to be extremely strong and patient. The dedication she's seen in her patients is testament to the resilience of the OCD community.
03 OCD attacks what you care about most. It can be so debilitatingly upsetting because it focuses on family, friends and loved ones.
Studying specific treatment methods for various disorders gives you insight into one part of that world; the world of treatment options and techniques. When you start to treat a person who lives each day with that specific disorder, your ability to see the struggle as a stand-alone illness diminishes and you truly see the people standing hand in hand with their monster.
I have the privilege to be a therapist specializing in OCD, BFRB’s, and anxiety disorders. Working closely with individuals who have OCD in its many manifestations has taught me many things, but allow me to break it down into bite sized pieces, much like we do with the work in ERP.
1) Individuals with OCD are some of the bravest people I’ve ever met.
Think about your biggest fear. Now imagine if your worst enemy followed you around every moment of every day yelling this fear directly into your ear, not caring if you had momentous things to do, like walk across the stage at graduation or interview for your dream job. Even menial tasks such as getting dressed or washing the dishes were interrupted. Not many people would be able to complete their daily to-do list if they couldn’t get rid of someone chasing them down with their worst fears on the regular. I have watched individuals accomplish amazing things while simultaneously tackling the monster of OCD.
2) Individuals with OCD are some of the most patient people I’ve ever met.
Practice does NOT make perfect, it makes easier. Time and time again, individuals with OCD will complete exposure after exposure after exposure, all without a definitive timeline for when the OCD bully will retreat into one’s past. Nevertheless, life is still lived, non-contingent on the up’s or down’s of the day.
3) Individuals with OCD are some of the most caring people I’ve ever met.
OCD attacks what you care about most. This could be your family, friends, pets, career, health, moral compass, ability to communicate, etc. This is how OCD takes power over a life. Why would OCD spend it’s time pursuing meaningless situations and people? Individuals with OCD care so deeply about life, that cautionary behaviors exist as a way to provide a semblance of safety from the worst case scenarios that pop into their minds.
4) Individuals with OCD are some of the most resilient people I’ve ever met.
I don’t know how many times I could keep standing up after a bully knocks me down, but individuals with OCD do this every day. The power to keep standing up, time and time again, and encounter life is no small feat. This resiliency is a great breeding ground for recovery.
To wrap up, I know that I don’t know everything about OCD. No one does- or else it wouldn’t still be around destroying lives. What I do know is that everyday I get to learn more and more about individuals who have this devastating illness and treating those individuals, which in turn leads me to learn more and more about life as a whole- both with and without OCD. My hope is that every individual with OCD knows how powerful they are, both when they are in their darkest days and when they reach recovery.
About the author
Beth is a Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in OCD, trichotillomania and other anxiety disorders. She is currently based in Missouri. To learn more about her work, head to www.lifewithoutanxietystl.com