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OCD soup


So what's this drawing really about? and What the hell is it?

This is one of my favorite drawings because it puts paragraphs, if not pages, of information acquired over many years of therapy and self directed discovery into one visual object. 

It's easy to think of each of your obsessions as different. The subject of each obsession is different and provokes anxiety and fear from different sources or stimuli. For example if I have two obsessions, 'What if I were to drive over the yellow line?' and 'What if finding a woman more attractive than my wife means I don't love my wife?' then the subject matter will change between driving and my wife depending upon which obsession has the most power at the moment. The fear and anxiety that I feel and observe will be the same but the intensity and frequency of the fear and anxiety may be different.

A problem with thinking of each obsession as different is that you now think each obsession must be treated differently. If you are using ERP this can be overwhelming. You may think that the tools you have to work with obsession A won't work with obsession B. Obsessions can be like prairie dogs popping up from their holes in the ground. There are lots of them and there's no order to when they'll rear their ugly head. If I have to use different tools to treat each obsession so that I won't perform a compulsion then I give up! At least that's how I feel inside and that just increases my anxiety level. I already have enough stuff that I'm working on, how will I ever come to peace with these obsessions?

That's where the drawing comes in. I like to think of ocd as a big pot of soup on an open flame. Sometimes the flame gets turned up and the soup starts to bubble a bit more. The bubbles start small and get bigger as they rise. Eventually they pop at the surface. If I observe the bubbles (obsessions) and don't try to do anything with them (think my way through them or try to make them go away) eventually they will pop on their own. The bigger the bubble gets the more space it takes up in the pot and in your life. 

This is not a perfect science but it is a wonderful way of working with my ocd that's brought me so much perspective and peace. The only way that I was able to attain this perspective was through the regular practice of mindfulness. This is life changing stuff!




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