With the holiday season fast approaching, many of us are firmly entrenched in the excitement, anticipation, and business of this time of year. Whatever our holiday plans involve, there are bound to be changes in our routines. This can be particularly difficult for those suffering from OCD.
It’s not hard to see why vacationing and travelling might trigger all kinds of concerns for OCD sufferers. No matter what type of OCD they suffer from, there’s always lots to worry about when stepping out of their comfort zone.
- “Will I be able to use the public or hotel restroom?”
- “What if I catch an illness or contaminate someone else while traveling?”
- “What if I hit someone while driving on the highway?”
The questions are endless and will be different for each person with the disorder. As you can see, however, all these concerns revolve around one thing: the uncertainty of what will be. Those with obsessive-compulsive disorder have the need to know, for sure, that all will be okay.
Having to alter plans, not being able to be spontaneous, and dealing with high levels of anxiety are just some of the many examples of how OCD can impinge upon a vacation. Interestingly, anticipatory anxiety is often worse than the actual event being agonized over. So what should OCD sufferers do when faced with all these holiday events fraught with doubt and uncertainty?
They should push through their anxiety and embrace the doubt and uncertainty that is holding them hostage. Yes, there is uncertainty that comes with traveling, vacationing or entertaining. Indeed, there is uncertainty in every aspect of our lives, and we all need to learn to accept, not fear, it.
A great way to learn to embrace the doubt is Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) Therapy, the frontline treatment for OCD. This therapy is about facing one’s fears as well as accepting the uncertainty of life. Giving in to what OCD demands only fuels it; standing up to OCD takes away its power. And while ERP therapy is difficult, it’s in no way as hard as living a life dictated by the disorder. Therapists who are properly trained in ERP therapy can help those who are suffering from OCD regain their lives.
If you have obsessive-compulsive disorder, I propose that you give yourself a gift this holiday season and make the commitment to stand up to your OCD. Reclaim your life. You deserve to enjoy the holidays, and every day, with your family and friends instead of being controlled by obsessions and compulsions. It will not only be a gift to yourself, but just might possibly be the best gift you could ever give to those who care about you.