Some of you have emailed me asking some very pertinent questions in regards to ROCD. Most of the questions overlapped between individuals. As someone pointed out in a previous post, it could be beneficial to have access to the same “answers”. So here is a general summary or overview of my answers based on my own experience with ROCD:
How do I know it is truly ROCD and not me falling out of love with my partner?
This is one of the questions that I have been asked the most.
First, I always like to stress that I am not a qualified mental health professional. I am just someone that went through a long period of ROCD and “recovered” from it. I like to make this clear because this is the right thing and fair thing to do. Ultimately, I encourage people to look for professional help if they can afford it or point them to books and other literature that helped me along the way. I think it is important for each of one of us to take personal responsibility for our recovery.
Second, the important bit is the OCD bit. Not the “R” bit. Everyone in a relationship at certain times will question the quality and truthfulness of the relationship. It is a NORMAL thing to do. Especially, if the relationship is under stress. The difference between a “normal” person and ROCD person is that in the ROCD sufferer the questioning becomes an obsession. The “normal” person is able to resume switch off the questioning. The ROCD sufferer can’t. So if you are obsessing about your relationship and this is impacting your thinking, feeling, etc then most likely it will be ROCD.
Third, there seems to be a huge misconception that the level of love in a relationship should remain static. Somedays, you will feel tired and unable to feel much love. Other days you will feel exactly the opposite. If our idea of being with the right person is based purely or mostly on the way we feel than we have fallen into the Hollywood trap – find the right person and you will be forever happy without any work from both parties.
Fourth, being in the “right” relationship is more about being the right person than being with the right person. If you share most of the same values, are both willing to work towards your happiness and there is no abuse in the relationship, most likely you are already in the “right” relationship. Again, this is more a choice than anything else. You can both decide to be happy. Growing apart is more about not nurturing the relationship than not being with the “right” person.
Why can’t I stop questioning or thinking about my relationship?
This is the obsessive side of the disease. It is not easy to switch off. Sometimes it will require medication, other times just therapy. It seems to increase or get worse when people are depressed or anxious. So improving from ROCD will most likely require improving from depression and anxiety.
Why can’t I feel the same way anymore when I want to feel the same again?
Over-thinking has a funny effect on the brain. Your emotions get depleted. It is much harder to feel something. When we feel depressed it is very hard to feel anything else. We just feel down. The other side of the coin is that the more you want to feel something, the more aware you become when it is not there. So this just reinforces the cycle of not being able to feel because you are raising your anxiety.
So to start feeling something again, we need to stop wanting feelings to be there when we expect them to be there and stop the over-thinking.
Why is it difficult for me to accept that I have ROCD?
OCD is also known as the doubting disease. Once we seemed to have found an answer, our brain will try to find an exception to our answer. This is what the brain does when it is anxious. It looks for possible signs of danger.
How can I get better?
Getting better will require medical advice to know if you need medication. Therapy to learn the right tools on how to cope with ROCD. And most importantly, COMMITMENT on your behalf not to give up. Sometimes finding the right medication and right therapists happens in the first instance, sometimes later. I was lucky enough with my medication as I did not have to switch to anything else. Not so lucky with my first therapists but managed to learn something useful from all of them.
Why can’t I feel sure about it one way or the other?
Wanting to feel certain is part of any type of OCD. It torments the sufferer and drives the condition. I like this quote:
There is no such thing as absolute certainty, but there is assurance sufficient for the purposes of human life.
John Stuart Mill
Will I ever feel normal or recover from ROCD?
Yes, if you are able to move from focusing on the problem to focusing on possible solutions.