Yesterday was my first therapy appointment ever–my sister has been begging me to go for years, but one of the things about OCD that gets you is the shame. So I waited until I was 30 to go.
After one meeting with a therapist, I realize that if I had gone earlier–10 years ago maybe, when I knew I needed to–my life could look different and more calm. I will do a separate post about choosing a therapist, because I think that our good vibe was part of the reason our visit left me feeling full of hope that this will be transformative.
But, here, exclusively for all of you, the top 3 things I learned yesterday:
I will be getting homework
I think this fun because I love the idea of this type of homework. When you aren’t able to meet with a therapist the ideal once or twice per week, it’s important to keep the things you have talked about fresh in your mind. You may even have new breakthroughs on your own–so I’ve been told! This time, I have a little longer gap, so I’ve been given a full book to read IF I LIKE. My therapist assures me there will be no guilting, etc. if I am unable to get to the work. The main thing will be to focus on Exposure Response Prevention, which leads me to the next thing…
You may want to loop in your family
My therapist showed me how my family and very close friends have been unconsciously facilitating my rituals and compulsions. This can happen especially if someone has Primarily Obsessional OCD (where their obsessions and compulsions are more internal, e.g. magic thoughts, and counting obsessively, etc.) She suggested that I advise my family against assuring me of certain things, and just let me sit a little in the discomfort.
(N.b. Some of my family has been resistant to this. They feel that could be either harmful to me or go against their own character. I can’t tell them what to do, obviously, however, I am hoping they will come around after a few explanations with resources.)
Your family will likely want to help you, if you are inclined to let them. If they lack understanding about the condition, it might be best to go into the conversation, having already selected and printed some resources for them that you could just refer to quickly and then leave with them.
We will be heading into the world of metaphor often
I don’t mind this at all, since I studied literature voraciously at college. But I noticed that this was very different to how any other doctor had ever spoken to me. My therapist DID want to make clear the diagnosis, but she also wanted to make the nuances and the feelings included in that diagnosis clear, as well.
My therapist compared the feelings of OCD Anxiety to the itch of poison ivy, where she tried to illustrate to me that if you “scratch the itch” it only becomes worse.
I feel like I learned a lot even just in my first therapy session. Even more than that, it also wetted my appetite to learn more about what’s going on internally. I’m excited to read the book she provided as homework and I can’t wait to go back next time and find out more. I’ll keep you guys posted. 😉
If you have also had an experience in therapy, good or bad, I would love to hear how that experience was for you!