Episode 21: Obsessing about Recovery, Part 2

Episode 21

Obsessing about Recovery, Part 2

In this episode of Purely OCD, Lauren and Kelley continue their discussion around Obsessing about Recovery. Given that there were so many questions about this form of OCD in the first episode, Part 2 focuses on answering submissions from viewers.

Here are some of the questions as well as pieces of the discussion that ensued.

Question 1: Am I recovered now? I’m trying to figure out when I have arrived.

Lauren: I have bad news.

Kelley: Give it to me girl.

Lauren: If there is an arrival place I have not arrived their yet.

Kelley: Sh*! – neither have I.

Lauren: I don’t think there’s a finishing point because you’ve got a brain and it’s going to go on infinitely.

Worry thoughts about whether or not you’re fully recovered are common in obsessing about recovery.

Kelley’s random side note: sometimes when you’re really tired, we give ourselves a little more permission to say “screw it, I’m not doing compulsions.” Then again, sometimes being really tired can mean things are more triggering and your resources are down/it’s harder to resist compulsions. 

Question 2: Could telling myself “There is nothing I can do about it” during my ERP reassurance?

Anything could be compulsive. If you’re doing it to try to neutralize anxiety, avoid an active exposure, etc. then it might very well be.

“OCD is an a-hole and it will find literally just about anything that we haven’t even thought of – I guarantee you where one day a person will walk into my office and I’ll be like ‘Yep, of course it did that.’”

Kelley Franke, LMFT

Question 4: I’m obsessing on whether or not my tinnitus is going away.

This falls into the category of a “benign obsession” and this can be very similar to obsessing about obsessing. 

You can’t get rid of your thoughts and you can’t get rid of tinnitus. Obsessing about obsessing involves worry thoughts like “What if these thoughts never go away?” and often results in monitoring thoughts to see if intrusive thoughts are coming up. With tinnitus, similarly, the fear is “What if this experience never goes away?” And people respond with checking to see if the negative experience that they want to go away has gone away. 

Question 5: What about when you’re obsessing that your thoughts aren’t ego-dystonic?

This is a variation on what if I don’t have OCD?

Here’s the thing – rot all thoughts and feelings in OCD are entirely ego-dystonic.

  • You might feel genuine anger the precedes a thought in Harm OCD
  • You might actually be unhappy with some of your partners behaviors in ROCD

It’s nuanced. The related obsessions about leaving one’s partner or about harming someone is likely ego-dystonic. All the same, trying to figure out whether your thoughts are truly ego-dystonic is unlikely to be helpful

Question 8: Is sexual orientation OCD real or is it denial?

The denial obsession comes up a lot with this theme because “living in denial” is a phrase often used to describe closeted individuals.

Question 9: Is it common to have thoughts that everything you do is a compulsion?

This fear is the crux of obsessing about compulsing.

Question 10: Is it a good idea to deal with obsessive thoughts by acknowledging but not accepting them?

Lauren and Kelley discuss accepting the presence of thoughts versus accepting the content of thoughts. You don’t have to accept that the content is reflective of your innermost desires, but you do have to accept uncertainty about it. Accepting that the thoughts are there is different from accepting that the thoughts are the reflections of reality.

Question 13: Thoughts on treatment refractory OCD?

“I think to say that someone is treatment refractory or resistant is to say that someone knows the future.” – Lauren Rosen

No subtype is necessarily stickier than the other. It depends on the insight of the client rather than the content. 

Willingness is the most important factor!!

If you’re dealing with other factors other than OCD, that can factor into recovery, too. 

Question 14: I’ve reached out to other OCD patients and it takes a toll sometimes. Do you also get overwhelmed sometimes?

Can OCD feel overwhelming? Absolutely!

Can it be overwhelming to support others with OCD? You betcha. 

Lauren and Kelley talk about the fact that part of their education and training involved understanding how to assert proper boundaries and how to prioritize self-care. All that to say, if you’re an advocate or someone who’s just trying to support a loved one, be kind to yourself.

Side note: Setting boundaries and doing exposures are both challenging endeavors. Kelley considers these two undertakings to be some of the hardest to face. Lauren notes that setting a boundary can actually be an exposure.


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Disclaimer: This information is meant to be general information not unique to any individual. Before following any guidance or advice found on this site or in the Purely OCD Podcast a visitor or listener should always consult with their own licensed healthcare practitioner. The Purely OCD Podcast and Website are not therapy or intended as a replacement for therapy. They are for educational purposes only.

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