Anxiety, OCD, depression…it’s all about fear. Fear of failing, fear of some unknown disaster, fear of change, fear of being ridiculed. Fear of hell. Having anxiety is being afraid—even if it’s only a little about—about something. You worry on that fear like it’s a loose tooth; you obsess about it. It might be rational. It might be irrational.
OCD is often associated with irrational fears, and in order to relieve that fear (which has become an obsession), you do some sort of compulsive act. And it doesn’t make sense. Believe me when I say that those who don’t have OCD can’t comprehend it. They think it’s stupid or you should be able to overcome it. You don’t have to wash your hands a million times a day to keep from dying from a rare disease. But if you don’t, you feel sick, like something’s picking at you picking at you picking at you. Like you can’t breathe. Like something’s perpetually pounded on your head and poking you until you do it (whatever the it is). And sometimes you don’t have the compulsive act, but the obsession. Pure O, it’s called, and you just obsess in your head. You get lost in it.
Facing your fears, facing the unknown, is easier said than done when you have one of these issues. That “facing” part is like jumping off a cliff and hoping you don’t kersplat. And the entire way down you’re in mental and emotional anguish. Oh, it can be done, but it’s torture. If you have social anxiety, going out with friends is the fall between the cliff and the ground. Your fearful the entire way down, and then suddenly…nothing. Everything’s fine.
How to Face Your Fears (even when you have so many)
Really, the only way to face your fears is to do it. It won’t make you less anxious or less prone to obsession, but it’ll help you to be better adjusted and better able to manage your problem. However, I wouldn’t suggest just leaping off a cliff. There are ways to make that leap less painful:
- Start small. Maybe don’t put yourself in an all or nothing situation. You don’t have to face the whole fear right off. Face pieces of the fear. In a social situation, this might be hanging out with a few people in your zone of comfort, not going out to a huge event where you’re surrounded by hundreds of strangers.
- You’re not alone. There maybe others out their with anxiety or OCD or the same fears as you, but that’s not what I mean. I mean that everybody has fears, and everybody has to face them. You are literally not alone. You’re in good company with everybody in the human family. Welcome to the world.
- Write it out. Did you know that there’s a writing therapy to help people with Pure O? Basically, you write out your worst fear—that thing you’ve been obsessing about—and read it to yourself dozens of time a day. Eventually it’ll lose its power over you. Also, it’s good just to get your feelings out there; let them burden a piece of paper instead of your heart. While writing it out, note the huge difference between rational and irrational fears. You might fear that you’ll die of the bubonic plague, but knowing it’s never going to happen helps immensely.
- Talk it out. You might need professional help, but that’s okay. Maybe you just need to unburden yourself to somebody else. There’s a special alchemy in sharing you misery with another: your situation doesn’t change, but you no longer feel alone.
There’s nothing easy about this. Facing fears, especially fears augmented by an emotional or mental disorder, isn’t easy. It’s not even hard: it’s torturous. But it’s worth it. You cannot be happy while living in fear. Choose happiness.