One Step at a Time
Mental illness can ruin your outlook on many things. It is constantly there and takes over as a focal point of your everyday life. We need ways to cope while going through treatment because of how long it may or may not take. It is weird, in my experience, focusing on the big picture or the end result was not what helped me. Taking things one step at a time is where I found my success. Focusing on the present helped me climb out of the hole that is OCD.
At the beginning of my mental illness journey, all I could think about was being stuck like this forever. I kept thinking that there was no way I could be this way permanently. I had to find a way out of this, but I had no idea how. I ended up ruminating on this and instead of doing something productive and learning methods to cope; I spun deeper and deeper until depression set in.
Once diagnosed with OCD, I felt a bit better. I knew there was a specific therapy that I could partake in to get better. Specialized therapists can help me and make my life a little more normal. The problem, though, was with my grand picture of things. As I moved through therapy, I kept wondering why isn’t this working? Why am I not better yet? When am I going to feel better?
This did nothing to help me, to say the least. I would spin up thinking that if a trained ERP therapist can’t help me, then no one can. Once again, depression would set in and I felt like this was truly my reckoning. I was destined to never master my OCD or feel better.
Until therapy finally began working. Things clicked together, the puzzle pieces began to line up. I started mastering the ERP techniques that were taught to me in therapy. I was finally seeing the light at the end of the million mile long tunnel. It was still far away, but at least it was there!
This is where I started figuring out that instead of looking at this huge grand scheme of things, I need to take it therapy session by therapy session. Stop wondering why things aren’t working. Stop thinking you are just spinning tires because you had a bad day or a dreadful week. The point of therapy is a slow build of filling up your toolbox with things that will help you cope after your therapist is long gone.
This attitude of staying in the present was like pouring gas on a flame. I would go into therapy with this clearness and focus and I would tell myself that I am going to do my best today. All the other days do not matter because today is mine and I can do this.
Sometimes looking at the big picture is necessary for certain things. It can give you motivation to complete a task or a project. In my case, though, the big picture clouded my progress in treatment for OCD. I kept thinking ERP wasn’t working, so what else am I going to do? Well, it did end up working. Working so well that I feel like I am about 99% cured. Yes, bad days happen, but the good always outweighs them.