Seeking CBT for the treatment of my OCD was one of the very best decisions of my life. I highly encourage anyone with any type of anxiety disorder to consider CBT, using ERP (see tab titled "Helpful Acronyms" above). It is very frightening to undergo this type of therapy, therefore it takes tremendous courage to pursue this treatment. I happened to read One Anxious Gal's blog today and she mentions starting CBT. I'm really excited for her. However, this also got me thinking. There is something about CBT that really needs to be stressed. It takes time to feel better. I have to repeat this. It takes time to feel better.
When I first began CBT and started fighting the compulsions successfully, I was incredibly frustrated by the fact that I didn't actually feel better. I mean here I was, touching things that I considered dirty and not washing my hands afterwards, and yet I still didn't feel any better. I started to wonder if there was any point to CBT if I still felt awful even though I did the homework. This has probably been the most difficult part of treatment for me. I did eventually start to feel better, but it took time. I can't tell you how many times I had to touch the door to the bathroom at my church before it stopped bothering me. It was weeks, maybe months. Now, I can touch the door and I may get a slight obsessive thought sometimes, but it is of no real consequence. My psychologist explained to me that my own experience confirms scientific research that found that it can take quite a while of doing exposures before the feelings improve and the obsessions diminish. She says that there is often a lag time before experiencing improved feelings following the performance of ERPs.
If you are doing CBT and ERP, please, please don't give up if you don't feel better right away. It will come. I have also found that the more experience I have with this therapy in general, the faster my anxiety goes away with other new ERPs. It seems I have begun to retrain my brain. Hang in there. Every time you successfully complete an exposure, you are slowly retraining your brain too.