The goal is to be able to cope. The unfortunate truth is that every human being will experience intrusive thoughts, times of worry, and times of sadness. It's not realistic to expect to live a life free of these things, and as people with OCD it is likely that anxiety/worry will always be a part of the way in which we experience the world. When treated, though, these worries do not need to control you, or even have a large impact. Through treatment it is possible to get OCD to the point where it does not bother you, and you are able to live a life full of meaning. I have had big period where my OCD has been 'subclinical', meaning that my symptoms do not impact me greatly.
Thanks for responding. I guess I’m just confused because I AM living my life, I’m functioning, but I’m exhausted and distressed by the symptoms. So I’m just not sure what to hope for.
hard to break this to people, but that is how pretty much all mental illnesses work. in fact, many disorders are actually normal emotions/processes that are malfunctioning in some way. just like how depression can be a normal feeling situationally but a depressive disorder is the "out of order" version of that. OCD is the same; everyone has intrusive thoughts, anxiety, and many people even experience strange compulsions at times - but when it gets to a point where your life is greatly impacted by this on a daily basis, that is when it becomes OCD. as such, the treatment is not to completely get rid of it. that's not possible in most cases. the point of treatment is to learn important coping skills so it no longer becomes a major issue that disrupts your life. OCD treatment will help you reach a point where it no longer makes you feel exhausted and distressed. you will still go through symptoms and may even have relapses, but your coping skills you've gained in treatment will help you get through it much more easily than without. i like to imagine therapy is more like going to a course in medicine than going to the doctor; a regular doctor will put a band aid on your wound for you, whereas a therapist teaches you how to put that band aid on.
You can hope for a life where the intrusive thoughts or obsessions aren't causing as much distress or exhaustion. And you are able to engage in your life without giving into compulsions. I like to describe it like this: before I went through treatment it felt like OCD was in the drivers seat. I couldn't separate myself from it and I was simply along for the ride. After treatment its like OCD is in the backseat of my car. It's still trying to tell me "turn here!" "turn there!" all obnoxiously but I no longer choose to listen. Its just background noise and I have the wheel. :)