Recently I found out I have two new cavities to get filled. Heurmph! This is precisely what my OCD was afraid of: sugar leading to cavities. Perhaps you’re surprised? Wouldn’t someone with OCD then brush and floss compulsively thus preventing cavities. Well maybe some to the point of bleeding gums and losing hours of the day, but not me. I’ve had too much Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy to obey OCD’s demands so easily.
Yes, I have tried to reduce my sugar intake since acquiring this fear as part of being healthier, but honestly, I don’t floss, and I still have a sweet tooth. OCD hates this. It criticizes me as lazy and impulsive, and says it’s 100% my fault I got cavities. And I know these are contributing factors, but sometimes cavities just happen even with the best of efforts.
I’ve been thinking a lot about finding the balance between not living my life obsessively and genuinely taking care of my teeth and health. It’s a tricky tightrope to walk. For me, it’s very easy for a commitment like starting to floss every day to turn into obsessing about my teeth for hours every day. It’s also just as easy to blow it off completely to try to avoid thinking about. Neither option is productive and healthy.
I can see this becoming a problem for just about any theme of OCD where within the obsession is a nugget of truth. When driving there is a real risk of getting in a car accident or hurting someone. We wash our hands because there are germs out there, and we don’t want to get sick. And you might have forgotten to lock the door or turn off the oven which could lead to a negative outcome.
It can be very easy to embrace this real risk and give into the OCD completely. However, that will only make OCD stronger.
Somehow, we need to sit somewhere in the middle. Perhaps I’ll start flossing every other day, but I’ll still allow myself to have the occasional pieces of candy.
How do you find balance with your OCD?
Other blog posts for OCD Awareness Week:
Day #1: Real OCD
Day #2: Fictional Books about OCD
Day #3: Finding Balance with OCD
Day #5: Peace of Mind Interview
Day #6: (Missed a day. Sorry, not sorry perfectionism)
Day #7: The Worst Type of OCD