Back in 2010, VH1 launched a short-lived reality show called The OCD Project. It highlighted the difficulties of living with obsessive compulsive disorder, showcasing the everyday struggles and clinical treatments of six people living with various forms of OCD. While it made for some eye-opening television, personal and professional development expert, Dr. Jordan Jensen, says the reality of OCD can be hell—a hell from which anyone can escape with the right tools.
Life with OCD
Jensen’s own struggle with OCD revealed to him the disorder’s many manifestations and, as he learned from experience, no one has to be limited to just one.
“It is true that OCD comes in many different ‘flavors,’” he explains, citing an article that lists at least a dozen different compulsions. “They include washing, cleaning, checking, repeating, hit-and-run OCD (fear that you hit someone with your car), orderliness, need for symmetry, sexual obsessions, fear of a loss of impulse control, health anxiety, hoarding, and scrupulosity (religious OCD).”
It was a combination of scrupulosity—leading to existential angst and depression—and a mild compulsive shopping habit that held Jensen in its grip for four years before he realized he had a problem. It was an epiphany that started Jensen down the long road to recovery and self-actualization.
“In my own experience, OCD had a markedly deleterious impact on my relationships, especially when it came to romance,” Jensen admits. In his new book, Self-Action Leadership: The Key to Everything, Jensen reveals how difficult it was to pick up the pieces. “Getting proper treatment helped me to, over time, overcome these difficulties to find success in romance, love, and eventually marriage and parenting.”
The secrets to overcoming OCD
Jensen authored his book not to highlight his own struggles, but to help his clients understand what prevents success and address it, head-on. OCD was his personal hell, but he says it’s also one that is easily overlooked.
“Any thought process that becomes overly obsessive or behavioral practice that becomes overly compulsive could be an OCD symptom,” he says. “The list of potential OCD ‘flavors’ is only limited by the creativity of the human brain.”
It’s the nature of the disorder that can make it so difficult to treat, Jensen says. A person’s brain selects the one thing that is likely to bother them the most, and fixates on it constantly. Learning to cope with OCD revealed to Jensen five traits that anyone should develop to help them succeed in professional therapy and get past the roadblocks OCD creates:
- Honesty. This is required to admit that you have a problem in the first place, to yourself and to others.
- Humility. It’s difficult to admit to loved ones and others that you have a problem and to seek help.
- Determination. Managing OCD is hard work mentally and emotionally. If you are willing to invest the time and effort required to properly practice cognitive-behavioral treatment methods, your efforts will pay off.
- Patience. Treating OCD may take weeks, months, or even years to make the kind of progress you ultimately hope for.
- Realism. While you are capable of making enormous progress with OCD, chances are it will never go away entirely. Approach its treatment with realistic expectations, and any progress you do make will be more satisfying. You’ll also prevent unnecessary disappointment or disillusionment that could derail your treatment plan.