Taming Oscar: Tips on Coping with OCD

Posted: February 21, 2011 in Inside OCD
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Another one from the archives that I’ve dusted off, in a sense…

I have lived with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, for years now. If you have OCD, you know there is no stopping the tape that plays on loop in your mind. It plays like a CD on repeat in the background, no matter how loud your world gets. In these years of listening to my broken soundtrack, I have found some ways to “trick” my mind into occasional normalcy.

These are only suggestions based on my own personal trial and error…not actual medical advice.

1. Make an alternate soundtrack. I was cleaning house one day with my favorite CD turned up loud. I caught myself singing along to the music, and as I focused on the lyrics, an amazing thing happened. I was focusing on the music, and not on the ever-running checklist that usually accompanied my cleaning.

2. Give it a name.  I think of my OCD as an alternate personality inside my mind, who is uncontrollable, anti-social, and has no reflection whatsoever on my otherwise charming and sweet persona. His name is Oscar. When the OCD thoughts are really intense, I can mentally berate Oscar…it’s strangely therapuetic. Much like a kid blaming the mess on his imaginary friend!

3. Let Oscar run free on some of the little things that don’t make a difference. This is something that seems to help when I’m overwhelmed with the tiny details on every possible little thing in my universe. I pick a few small ones and let OCD take over. Shopping list? What does it hurt to recopy it a couple times so that it’s a perfect specimen of pretty penmanship? Then you have temporarily satisfied Oscar’s penchant for perfection, and can move on with washing the dishes only once while that perfectionism is, for the moment, quieted.

4. Pick up a book that you love, and have read many times, and read it again. There is comfort in knowing how it all turns out, and you can get lost in it. No surprises, no unexpected plot twists…nothing to obsess over.

5. If you obsess over all kinds of what-ifs, keep a journal of them. Write down all the possible bad scenarios. Then argue them out loud. Often, I find that once I read a fear, and hear myself point out why it’s not reasonable, I can put the fear to rest.

6. Long, hot, bubble bath. Trashy, no concentration required novel. Ice cold drink. No explanation needed. Don’t drop the book in the water…books cannot swim well.

7. Finally, give yourself a break. When I stress about OCD, Oscar is at his absolute worst. It is a never-ending cycle. So, keep this mantra, and repeat as necessary: “This is a condition, it is not me.”


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