Relabeling Worries & Habits
This isn’t me—it’s OCD.
Do you have thoughts that repeat themselves over and over? Are you plagued by repetitious habits that are getting out of control? If so, you may have a problem called obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Just by distinguishing constructive worries from unfounded obsessions and healthy habits from unnecessary compulsion, you can start to change! Excessive concern about doing something wrong, being sick, hurting others, looking just right, saving things, being clean, orderly, or germ-free, and preventing misfortune are common sources of obsessions and compulsions.
Relabeling concerns and tiresome habits as obsessions and compulsions reduces their power and sets the stage for change:
I know my fear that dirt will infect me is just an obsession and that my hands aren’t actually contaminated, even though I’m compulsively washing them.
DISTINGUISH OCD FROM RELATED DISORDERS
OCD is easy to confuse with related disorders. Misdiagnosis can cause additional worries and delay proper treatment. Knowing what OCD is not will help relabel what actually is troubling you or help you find additional needed treatment:
Directions: Help recognize repetitious behaviors that are tics rather than compulsions. Check any of the following that you do.
Sometimes, people can be trained to substitute an inconspicuous toe twitch for more obvious tics. “Practicing” a tic at a convenient time may reduce the need to produce it when it would be bothersome. The same medications are not generally used to treat tics and OCD.
Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder characterized by tics—
involuntary, rapid, sudden movements, or vocalizations that occur repeatedly in the same way. The cause is genetic and may be related to how the neurotransmitters, dopamine and serotonin are used in the body.
For further information see:
alt.support.tourette—an online newsgroup dedicated to Tourette Syndrome.
Living with Tourette Syndrome by Elaine Shimberg, (Simon & Schuster, 1995).
Children with Tourette Syndrome, A Parent’s Guide by Tracy Haerle and Eisenreich, (Woodbine House, 1992).
Jeffrey M. Schwartz identifies relabeling as one of the “4-R’s of recovery” from OCD in his book Brain Lock (HarperCollins, 1996). The rhyme “This isn’t me, it’s my OCD” also comes from Brain Lock.