When many people begin to seriously suspect they might have obsessive-compulsive disorder it is not uncommon to turn to google. I know that’s what I did. You feel desperate so you google some of your symptoms and hope to find someone else who has had a shared experience or a potential answer for what might be wrong. But then what? If you do this and suspect you really might have OCD what steps should you take next? This can be very a frightening and overwhelming place to be when you think you might need help but aren’t sure where to turn to. If you are in that place and found this post by googling or in a similar way, welcome! You are not alone and there is help and support available. Here is some advice for steps you can take next to begin treatment and fighting OCD.
The first thing I would suggest doing is telling someone you trust. This can be a parent, a teacher, a friend, or anyone that you feel comfortable talking to and you think is in a place that they can help. I think this is a really important step because it is probably the first time you will be opening up to someone about what you are going through. The sooner you start talking and expressing yourself the better you will feel already. Many individuals with anxiety default to internalizing but it can be healing in itself just to open up a little.
Next, maybe even with the help of the person you confided in, it is incredibly important to seek the help of a mental health professional. It is also crucial that it is not just any therapist or psychologist, but one who specializes in OCD and anxiety and has training with ERP (exposure and response prevention therapy). Not all therapy is helpful and many types of therapy will actually make OCD worse. The International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) has several resources for finding the right help including a list of questions to ask a potential therapist (How to find the right therapist) and a directory for finding trained professionals in your area (Directory). Then all you have to do is muster a bit of courage, make a phone call, and set up an appointment.
While waiting for your first appointment it may be helpful to read a book or resources online in the meantime. These can cover information about what OCD is in more detail, the different ways it may be affecting your life, and how OCD is treated. Again, the IOCDF is a great place to start for information (https://iocdf.org/). This of course doesn’t substitute for the help from a trained professional but it can be a good way to start learning about OCD and its treatment. Reading about others’ stories and experiences can also be beneficial because you begin to feel less alone and you learn there are others out there who understand what you are going through. Great ways to connect with others with OCD include blogs and online support groups, such as on Facebook.
So my courageous reader, whoever you are and wherever you are, I hope that you found these resources helpful. If anything, I hope you feel more hope and feel all of the support of those who have gone through this process before you. We are excited to welcome you to this band of brave fighters and to help you on your journey. It is a frightening process but you’ve already taken a first step. You are well on your way to begin fighting back against OCD and to start working toward recovery.
As always feel free to ask questions in the comments or to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Previous blog posts for OCD Awareness Week:
Day #1: OCD is when…
Day #2: Debunking Myths about OCD