Friday, August 13, 2010

Going Back to My OCD Support Group

Sitting Circle
I happened to cross paths with someone from the OCD Support Group I used to attend, and she invited me to come back as I told her about having difficulty with a lot of unstructured time since being jobless. I went this week, and realized I hadn't been there in almost 2 years.

I like the immense practicality of this group. After a discussion, we get into smaller groups, each with a seasoned member to lead, and each person picks a goal for the next 2 weeks until the next meeting. The group can help generate ideas for exposures, which can be hard to do by yourself if you are feeling anxious and sucked into the compulsing.

The key is to choose a goal that you are willing to do, and it's like a secret weapon against OCD. The most innocuous sounding goals often lead to important change, like a catalyst setting off your own self-confidence and self-efficacy.

The defining questions for the goal are:
  • What action will you do?
  • When will you do it?
  • How often will you do it?
OCD thrives on vagueness in goals, like "I'll try to obsess less." My perfectionistic OCD gets set off by the idea of small steps--the squawking voice demands "all or nothing at all" but that leads to being stuck in the OCD, because if I don't do a small step, I usually do nothing at all. My goal is to write some of the tasks I actually want to get done(as opposed to what my OCD wants, ie. reduction in anxiety at all costs)on index cards and once per day randomly pick a card and do the task. I've practiced avoidance for so long that it's quite an exposure to get something done, without ruminating on whether it's the right thing at the right time. The other goal I chose was to pick one day a week where I will delay getting on the computer until after noon, to give myself a chance to get other things done.

What small step can you choose to take this week?

Challenging OCD One Step At a Time
List of OCD Support Groups for Adults in the US


  1. I really like both your goals. I may have to copy them! I am particularly bad at sitting in front of my computer too long and too frequently.

    In an attempt to fill my time, either just in general or often while avoiding other things, I will sit at my computer looking for something to keep me going in the meantime. But of course, trying to find stuff to do or read on my computer to fill the void created by OCD is probably not the best strategy. Instead I should probably be attempting things I would like to do but that OCD says are off-limits (things like reading a book, cooking, cleaning the disgusting filthiness of my new home, searching for new jobs) because I can't do them "right," don't know how to do them "right," or because it will just be too hard trying to figure how to out work around my rituals to do these things. I will eventually have to face these things. But in the meantime, the computer is often an unhelpful escape for me!

    I also like the idea of picking at random a task to do. My therapist thought maybe making a schedule would be helpful, but I balked at the idea of having to specify an amount of time for each activity - probably because I find it hard to complete activities in a pre-determined amount of time. Though I regularly make to-do lists to keep myself moving and to give myself a sense of accomplishment at the end of the day even if it seems like "there is always more to do," my therapist said that sometimes to-do lists can be problematic because people tend to put off all the hard things or feel like they have to get the hard things all out of the way first. Choosing things to do at random would definitely help combat my tendency to feel like things must be done in a particular order!

    I think it's great that you find your support group so helpful. The format reminds me of the GOAL group set-up that I learned about at the conference.

  2. Fellow Sufferer--Yes, it is a GOAL group! I forgot to mention that. I didn't get onto the computer until 11:20 am yesterday, and it was amazing to me how ingrained "filling the void" with the computer is in my life. I got a lot done before I got on the computer, and it makes a lot of sense to delay getting on, but my OCD is generating a million reasons why I should get on right away. I am creeping toward challenging that voice's credibility.