Normally, there is some sort of ‘trigger’ that will bring on anxiety. It could be something as simple as a certain song coming over the airwaves, visiting a location where a traumatic event happened in the past, or something as simple as pulling a knife out of a drawer. Once this trigger is pulled, the OCD cycle rears its ugly head.
As a natural and uncontrollable response, the OCD sufferer will fall back on what has worked in the past. They will begin their rituals. Then the rituals start to make them feel better and this is how the OCD cycle perpetuates an endless cycle of pain management through self medicating with ritualistic behaviors.
Many people with OCD fear germs. They feel that if they wash their hands thoroughly, and frequently enough, this will kill the anxiety and the fear of germs that they have. Unfortunately, when they wash their hands, they only deepen the cycle of fear. The more they wash, the more they think about the reason they are washing, and this just leads to more fear and anxiety. As you can see, this pattern is at the heart of the OCD cycle.
The only way to stop this cycle is to disrupt the negative thought patterns. For instance, someone who thinks that their hands are always dirty can learn to recognize these types of thoughts as they are created. Then they can control their response to the trigger. Of course, this type of reconstructive therapy does not happen overnight and can be greatly enhanced with the help of a professional therapist.
Another thing that can help to break the OCD cycle is to try some of the techniques that are used by people who suffer from panic and anxiety disorders, but are not necessarily diagnosed as being OCD. Breathing is a great technique for stalling a panic attack or relieving anxiety. The basic method is to breath in while saying something like “Peaceful” and then breathe out while saying “Heart”. There are many different breathing techniques that can be used.
Living through the OCD cycle can be quite unnerving. Simply doing the research required in order to completely understand this cycle is a great start. The next step would be to get to a therapist so that you can start working on a system for relief. However, it might also be a good idea to start writing down your thoughts, immediately. When you start to feel anxious, write down exactly what you are thinking. When you are finally relieved, write down your thoughts and what you think helped you get over your anxiety. Then, take your notes with you to the therapist. In the end, where there is a will, there is a way. There is an article on OCD checking you might want to learn about as well…