A month or so ago, I asked whether any bloggers would be happy to participate in an OCD Blog Hop. Following some fantastic responses, I’m very proud to present the first round-up post.
The topic that I chose is hope. Sometimes hope seems impossible when caught up in the smothering blackness of OCD, but it is incredibly important. There are handfuls of clichés that I could pull out here, but I shan’t – we all know that at the end of the day, if we lose sight of our dreams and plans, things can’t improve.
Our first post comes from Ellen who reminds us that hope can mean different things to different people, and that there is support available –
h•o•p•e – hold•on•pain•ends
We must all hold on because things will get better. It doesn’t matter if you just need to cry, scream, or just take a break because things can improve. There’s support out there that will enable us to do so. It’s hard in the moment to tell yourself this, but sometimes I think that it’s the key.
Next, Harri from Welcome to OCD Camp writes about the importance of refinding the belief in yourself, the knowledge that things can improve.
I have lost hope and worshipped despair, had self harm and low worth as my idols, prayed for suffering instead of recovery when I believed there was no way out. I have been to the very depths of my ocd, fought against that demon and then willingly surrendered my power to it.
To lose Hope is to lose faith, faith in yourself and your strength. To lose Hope is to lose yourself, and I almost did.
It took a long time to climb back up, to be honest I’m still climbing. I know I have a long way to go, and some days I slip (sometimes willingly, indulgently) back a little way. But I still climb, I use all my weapons to fight against it, and one of those weapons is Hope.
Hilda from Perfectly Imperfect hopes for a few things of things – that OCD will someday be curable –
Sometimes, we feel so overwhelmed by all these thoughts (and by all the rituals that we do) that we fear we would never be OCD-free. It took me a lot of time to accept that, I wanted my OCD to go away forever. Lapses and relapses may happen, but this doesn’t mean that you can’t live a fulfilling, productive life again. Learning how to manage your OCD is the key. Even if it might mean trying different treatments before finding the right one, you’ll get there, eventually. There is hope!I hope that someday OCD will be curable but, until then, we have tools we can use to “turn down the volume” of intrusive thoughts and urges to do rituals.
But also that stigma towards OCD will one day reduce –
I hope that the stigma towards OCD (and mental conditions in general) will be destroyed.I hope that more and more people understand what having OCD really feels like, how debilitating it can be, and stop saying something like “I’ve just cleaned the kitchen, OMG I’m soooo OCD!” or thinking that having OCD means being organized.
I’ve always been of the opinion, that if we know something, we must pass that onto others. That’s why I’m so passionate about telling others that there is hope, OCD can be beaten. It sometimes seems a long way off but just because it’s in the distance, doesn’t mean that we’ll never get there. This is your day to start your journey.“A journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step”.When are you going to take your first step? When are you going to tell OCD you’ve had enough and you’re ready for the FIGHT? I urge you to take that first step. We’ll all be here to hold your hand on your journey. We’ll get there together.
But I also know that by itself, hope is not enough. In order for me to live a life that is not controlled by OCD I need to work hard. I need to complete the CBT and ERP exercises that will help me achieve this. That’s not always easy. It takes real effort and discipline. But having hope helps me to keep going and working towards my goal. I know that if I put in the hard work now, I can reap the rewards of a life that is not dictated by OCD. And that is very much worth it.
So rather than just using hope to think about an easier future, I try and find hope in everyday things. I find hope in every little step I make towards recovery, whether it is the fact that I have not turned around in the street to see what I might have stepped on, or not spent time examining a red stain or not washing my hands after touching a door knob. All these things give me the most hope and keep me moving towards my longer-term goal.
Similarly, Stephen from Compulsivflyer writes that hope isn’t just positive thinking – it’s much more than that –
I HOPE I CAN RECOVER FROM THIS HORRIBLE ILLNESS THAT’S RUINING MY LIFE – I HOPE WE ALL CAN!
It’s not going to come to us though. We cannot simply ‘pray’ to get better; hope requires so much more than that.
It requires us giving all we can, learning all we can, being prepared to take the rough with the smooth, dealing with the inevitable knock backs, chasing the best treatments, acknowledging that the system isn’t perfect but that it’s what we currently have and that we have to work with it and try to improve it.
It requires us to accept that we may need to be selfish and think about ourselves first sometimes, even if this feels somewhat alien and uncomfortable.
Life is real.
It can be changed and improved by positive actions and thoughts … or you can live life on a wing and a prayer.
Rebecca from A Diary of OCD lists the different ways that she stays hopeful when OCD is making itself known – do make sure you read the rest of her list, it’s a fantastic post –
1. Whenever I get an intrusive thought that feels like a memory I remind myself that I have been here before more times than I can count and not a single intrusive thought I have had has turned out to be real, regardless of how vivid they feel at the time. It doesn’t make the current event feel any less real, but it takes the edge off the terror and keeps me from completely giving up faith.
2. If I get an intrusive thought that is of a new ‘theme’, these days, I know that even though it may be new to me, someone somewhere is going through the same thing. And someone, somewhere, has overcome it. I am thankful everyday for the community that I have found online – you all keep me believing that where there is a will there is a way.
Emily also shares how she has been able to hold on to hope and gives us some practical ideas – I love the idea of listing joys every day –
But do I think that hope can be cultivated? Absolutely. That’s not to say that if you’re having trouble finding it that you’re not trying hard enough, I don’t think it’s just about having a positive mindset but I think even in our darkest moments there will be the odd flicker flame of hope. It may die as quickly as it is lit but the flame can be fanned until it starts to grow. I started a challenge every day with my sisters to think about “Joys” for the day.
It was hard to begin with – my battered soul was adamant that there was no joy, nothing to gain any pleasure from but I persevered. As I did, I started to notice that even when I thought my day had been the worst yet I could still find one small thing that had pleased me in some way. The rules are simple, the joy doesn’t have to be huge it can be as basic as your favourite TV programme being on, a nice sunset or a kind word, it just has to be something that you notice yourself feeling in that moment a little brighter about. Once I started doing it, I noticed hope tagging along behind. I started to hope that there was maybe more to come, that there may be more joys and that perhaps things could be better yet.
Thank you to every one of you who took part in this first Blog Hop – it’s a wonderful collection of inspiring stories and ideas. If anybody else wants to host the next one, please feel free!
If I have forgotten anybody, please know that it is an honest mistake and let me know so I can add you to the list!
Finally, thank you to you all – we have created a fantastic and supportive community and one that I hopes will only continue to grow and spread. Through our blogs, we continue to raise awareness of OCD – something that is truly invaluable.
Obsessively compulsively yours,