My therapy session last week was an interesting one. Both my therapist and I share an OCD diagnosis, and both of us have been struggling lately.
At the time of my appointment, I was having a rough patch. My therapist had texted that she would be late, but I went over anyway. I was going to be doing the same thing regardless, so I might as well do it at her office—curled up doing sudoku, like I described last week. One of her symptoms is struggling with time, so I ended up waiting for a while, but it really didn’t matter to me.
When she got there, I told her about the difficulty of my positive spike the week before. It helped that I had written about it and processed it already.
Earlier in my therapy career, I could not have alone done the processing, and had the realization that the positive spike and subsequent crash was a normal and expected part of life. At this point, I will often hear her voice in my head asking me questions or pointing out the obvious that was previously opaque to me.
As we discussed how things were going, she gave me some homework. She said that I’m just about at the point where my medication should be kicking in, and I should be able to work on skills again without getting overwhelmed. Both of us need to go back to the basics and focus on the fundamentals of combating OCD.
The core of the recovery is distress tolerance, typically practiced through exposure and response prevention (ERP) therapy. Instead of running away from what is scaring me, I need to lean into it.
It is such a help and comfort to have a therapist who truly understands me. Because we share a diagnosis, I don’t have to struggle to explain to her what I am feeling or experiencing. She can usually describe it more clearly than I can, just anticipating what I am likely going through.
I don’t wish these struggles on anyone. But I’ve also learned that all of us have our own struggles. They may look different, but they are no less valid, and no less difficult. We’re all in this together.