I've been in therapy with NOCD since the beginning of this year. Looking back over the course of the year, therapy certainly brought me some comfort, but lately, I realized I wasn't quite going about it the right way. For most of my life, I've done talk-therapy sessions, where the goal is to talk out your problems in a rational way. I got good at this; so good, that during my therapy sessions, I felt like I wanted to talk about everything wrong in my life. I remember feeling so overwhelmed earlier this year to speak to my therapist, because our sessions are generally 30 minutes and I was always wondering how I could possibly discuss all my life problems in that short of a time.
It took me until last month to really realize what ERP is; ERP is sitting with uncertainty. Not fighting it, avoiding it, or neutralizing it. Looking back on previous sessions, I think I always wanted to talk about my problems because I was too afraid to just sit with their uncertainty. However, I noticed that whenever I dumped my emotions and stress on the therapy table, I'd feel better for a few days, and it would all return again. Over the past 3 years, I've returned to the same talk therapist on and off again. He has helped me tremendously with repairing some of my relationships, but talk therapy doesn't work for OCD. When I'd walk into his office after a few months, he'd always ask, "so why are you here?"
I never knew how to answer that question. Because it always felt so urgent for me to just talk to someone about my OCD. But that therapist didn't specialize in OCD, and his philosophy was that by "focusing on improving other areas of my life, my OCD symptoms would shrink." Which is true to a small extent. But my intrusive thoughts and rumination would keep coming back again and again.
I felt hopeless and embarrassed to talk about my OCD. It felt like I was making excuses, and that I just wasn't strong enough to follow my talk therapist's advice. Like everyone else knew a secret ingredient to life that I didn't, and because I didn't, I was damned to repeat the same cycles my whole life.
Luckily, that has changed lately.
I'm realizing that I have been hunting for certainty for so long that I had forgotten that life is uncertain. Now in my ERP sessions, I focus on doing exposures and sitting with and through my discomfort. I'm not perfect at it, but I'm making progress. I'm comparing myself less to the other people in my life, and focusing more on my own growth. It is still so hard; I'm sitting down right now to make a budget for my finances, and I am terrified to do so. But I know that uncertainty is the key, and accepting it is my road to healing.
I wish you all good luck on your ERP journey, and remember that uncertainty makes us human.