Putting “Backsliding” with OCD into Perspective

I have had an immense amount of anxiety these past couple of days. I am attending a wedding this weekend as a bridesmaid for a good friend. That part is exciting. The scary part is traveling and leaving my cat with a sitter. OCD tells me if I leave for too long, something terrible will happen to my cat, I won’t be there to save her, and her death will be my fault. Added to this, I couldn’t get ahold of the seamstress who was hemming my dress. I kept calling (and emailing) (and messaging over facebook) panicking that I wouldn’t have my bridesmaid dress in time. Today, I finally got a call back, picked up my dress, and wow, do I feel relieved.

I still have the traveling and cat fears ahead of me though. It’s going to be an exposure, and not a small one. I’ve accepted that. And I’m willing to do the exposure because my friend and her wedding are incredibly important to me. That is the values-based decision.

Because of my increasing fears about leaving my cat for more than a few hours, a few weeks ago I decided to restart ERP (exposure and response prevention) therapy. I had my initial session this week, just in time for the big exposure! And oof, after over three years off from structured ERP, I do not miss it. And at the same time, I know it will be helpful. ERP works really well for me. It’s just super uncomfortable to purposely make yourself anxious and ride it out.

When I had first been diagnosed with OCD, I made a chart of all my obsessions and compulsions. The list was huge and overwhelming, but it was a great way for me to identify what was OCD and how it played out in my life. It can feel like I’m backsliding, having to do ERP again and having OCD have a noticeable impact on my life again. I honestly felt this way, until tonight. I decided to make an updated chart of current obsessions and compulsions, to organize our approach to treatment.

When I compared the charts from 2014 and 2015 to now, the difference is shocking. 2014 was when I was diagnosed with OCD, and 2015 was just before residential treatment. The current list is so small in comparison! It really puts things in perspective. I am nowhere near back where I started. Yes, I still have OCD, and I always will be facing fears of some sort, but that will never erase my progress. My hard work has continued to pay off. Taking back control from OCD was possible before, and it will be possible again.

August 2015…so many fears wow
May 2021

P.S. Yes, sharing these images and the content of my OCD is vulnerable. Also, I don’t care because others can relate and feel less alone.


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