Jim and I were talking the other day, and we determined that I am about 60% better than I was at the height of my OCD symptoms. Maybe that is a disappointing number to hear for some of you, but believe me, in a lot of ways, I feel like I am living in mental heaven now, rather than the mental hell I was in just a few short years ago. 60% is a great level of improvement as far as I'm concerned. Even so, I know I could improve that number if I worked hard on planned ERPs. I'm pretty lazy though (truth be told!) and I'm also very busy now with several ministries at church. Between that, and the fact that I feel tremendously better, well, I don't have too much motivation to work very hard on this.
Since our previous discussion, Jim has this little joke about my 40%. You know, that part of me that is still somewhat controlled by the OCD monster. I struggle with a bit of paranoia about my phone not being properly hung up, and the other day when I was repeatedly asking for reassurance that it was hung up, Jim said, "I'm done talking to the 40%." Ha ha ha point taken!
Even though there is still a good part of this illness left in my life, it just doesn't hurt like it did before. I realize it is my perspective that has changed. It's something that you hear about all the time. Change your perspective, change your perspective, life will seem better, etc. I heard that so many times and I always hated it when people said that. It was very annoying to me. I think it's because I misunderstood what it meant to change my perspective. I still don't like to hear people say to me (or anyone else), "Well, it could always be worse," or "Just think about him or her. Be thankful you're not in that situation." Ugh. Those types of statements just minimize your pain.
I do try to look at painful things as a challenge now, rather than an obstacle. I look at them as a learning experience, and a chance for me to grow. When a scary OCD trigger has me up against the wall, I view it from a different angle. Yes, it's surely painful at that time, but I know it will not be painful for long. I know that the way things are right now, at this moment, will not be the same in the future. I know that I've gotten through horrific OCD terror in the past, so I can surely go through it again, if need be. I know that I have people around me who love me, support me, and walk through the terror with me by my side.
Essentially, I choose to listen to my rational mind, rather than my OCD mind or to the crazy accompanying feelings that always lie. I no longer spend time worrying about when the next trigger will hit, and it no longer ruins my whole day if and when it does. I also work hard to see the good and positive things all around, because truly, there really are good and positive things all around. I honestly could not have done this without CBT/ERP, where I was taught about cognitive distortions and how to fight them. A change in perspective. OCD just doesn't hurt as much any more.