OCD Spikes and Relapse
Every time I went to therapy for my OCD, I would have a major spike. These spikes were enough to make me want to quit, but I kept going. I want to let you know that spikes are temporary and they are excellent tools to practice and hone your skills in ERP. Please, don’t get discouraged and think you are going back into an OCD cycle because that tends to not help. This always led me into a long and drawn out rumination session on how I will never get better, and this OCD and anxiety was my reality for the rest of my life.
I was wrong, and this is one of those times I am glad to be wrong! Spikes happen, I still get them from time to time but instead of analyzing my intrusive thoughts, I move on and focus on something else. In my case, distraction is not a bad thing. Remember, do not avoid the intrusive thoughts but, use distraction as a tool to break the cycle of rumination.
I did not understand that I had control of my rumination until my therapist told me. She plainly told me I am in control and if I want my OCD to get better, I have to stop. This was really hard at first. I told her multiple times that I feel like I cannot control my rumination because it is so automatic. It took me a few weeks to get the hang of it and it has gotten better ever since.
Just for informational purposes, I would like to share what my OCD cycle looked like. An intrusive thought would pop in, then I would analyze it in ways such as, trying to reason my way out of the thought, negotiate with myself about how I would never do something like that, or even give up and ask for reassurance from family members. This fueled my OCD and to break that cycle I did ERP and my big response prevention was breaking the rumination cycle. What I have been doing to accomplish this is to zero in on something that I find interesting. If an intrusive thought popped in, I would start researching vehicles and what car I thought I would want to purchase next. This worked wonders for me because I set a goal for myself. I wanted to pick the best car, with the best fuel mileage, good reliability ratings, but big enough to ride around with my family. This was super fun! I even took a few test drives with some cars.
I ended up finding that the RAV4 Hybrid is the car I wanted, but I am going to wait on purchasing it for a while. This whole COVID thing has caused me to not need a vehicle because of working from home full time. No real reason to purchase a new vehicle for it to sit in the driveway!
Anyway, what I hope you can see with relapsing is that it is never the end of the world. In the moment it sucks, but leverage it to work for you and not against you. Use it as a tool, being in a spike is only temporary and I know you can do this!