Saturday, March 3, 2012
A Crisis as an Opportunity for Diagnosis, Medication and Coping
Once I started working full time in a job that kept me busy mentally I was able to ignore my compulsions to greater degree. The structure of a consistent daily routine work schedule was very helpful. I started to find that weekends were much harder than work days. I went on long runs over the weekends and I joined a group of friends on Sunday nights. Working also helped with my shyness because of the interaction with co-workers and with workers from other companies.
At times of work related stress or other stressful events my OCD was still an issue. If I thought I had made a mistake at work, I wasted several hours a day thinking about all the possible worst case scenarios. I also thought about why I was over reacting but this did not really help or eliminate my stress. Invariably this affected my productivity and I worried about what my co workers thought about me.By my mid to late twenties I recognized my symptoms as OCD but was too embarrassed to get help from a professional. I bought a few books on OCD and learned more about medications and coping strategies. After one particular stressful work event in my early 30s, I finally decided to see a therapist. I had read that medication was successful for a significant percentage of people with OCD. I also learned about the importance of cognitive behavioural therapy in developing coping skills.
During my first session, the therapist asked me several questions. After about twenty minutes she agreed that I had OCD and gave me a referral to see a psychiatrist who would prescribe medication. The therapist was the first person I ever talked to about my compulsions and obsessions. Simply explaining what I was going through to another person was a great relief. As part of my therapy, once a week I met with a group of people with OCD. We discussed our condition openly as we had a common understanding. This was also a nice change from keeping it all to myself.Eventually I told my family and friends that I had OCD. They were impressed that I went to a professional and got help to deal with it. After about six to eight weeks, the medication started to have a positive effect. I still had certain compulsions like tapping the water tap after use I did these just a few times and then forgot about it. (Prior to medication, I used to have to change the tap handle every few months—I tapped so hard and so long that it either came loose or broke). Six months later, the psychiatrist slowly decreased the medication dosage. After about another six months my medication was reduced to a maintenance dosage (about one-third of the peak dosage). I have been on this for nine years now.
I still have OCD but I feel its affects much less now because of the medication and coping skills. I organize myself better and I have been through enough stressful events in my life that I know that the worst case is unlikely to happen. I still make noises and I still tap things and have other compulsions. However, OCD does not have a major negative impact on my life anymore and I can laugh about it with my wife.
In college, the writer wanted to select a particular major in college but ended up doing a completely different specialization—because he worried too much about being the odd one out in a small group of students. He opted for the subject with a larger student body where he would not draw attention to himself. Now when the writer gets challenging opportunities at work, he is able to assess and prioritize his tasks...he takes risks:)
Posted by Ms. S at 8:22 PM