Is OCD & Anxiety Recovery Possible?
Is it possible to recover from OCD, Anxiety, and Psychological stress? Yes, I believe it is. In this episode, I am going to discuss my thoughts on recovery and the misconceptions around it. I often get asked if it is possible to recover and the problem with that question is it presupposes that the experience of anxiety is abnormal or a problem, which it is not. The question also presupposed that recovery means the absence of anxiety, which it doesn’t. However, when we understand the problem of OCD, Anxiety, and Psychological Stress as a loop one gets caught in we can begin to shift how we see recovery. So in this episode, I am going to discuss my thoughts on what it means to recover from OCD, Anxiety, and Psychological Stress.
All right. Hello and welcome to this episode where we're going to talk about is OCD and anxiety, a lifelong condition, or the idea of can you recover? Right. And so I want to start off by addressing this question, um, because I think it's an important question because when someone's seeking help for OCD and anxiety related problems, right? Whether it's panic attacks or, um, general anxiety, social anxiety, uh, phobias, right. I always always start with the idea that recovery is possible right now. I want to go ahead and explain a little bit about what I mean by that. If we look at the feeling of anxiety as the problem, we are going to always have a problem, right? And this, and this is the paradox, right? That I want to talk about a recovery because anxiety disorders by their very nature, right? You, you listened to, you know, someone said, well, yeah, I have an anxiety disorder, or you get diagnosed with an anxiety disorder.
What does that imply? Right? That the, the presence of anxiety is correlated to the disorder. And while that's true, it's also not true, right? Because anxiety is a normal feeling. Anxiety is the stress response, right? It's a form of psychological stress. Your brain is producing a futuristic outcome that you don't want in your body's reacting to it, right. To try to protect you from it. Right. The problem is, is because it's not happening right now. There's nothing to really do. Hence we feel this surge of energy that we call anxiety, right? The anxiety is just the stress response. It's the fight or flight response, but it's happening in a time when there's nothing to fight or flee from. Right? So we have the surge of energy kind of meet the surface. And it feels very uncomfortable if we were actually in a dangerous situation, that same energy would, you will, you would use to propel us into motion or to fight, right.
And because that surge of energy is there, it's really uncomfortable. And that's, you know what? We commonly call anxiety in the States. And, you know, in, uh, in more of the, the Western part of the world, the thing is, is that anxiety is normal. Every time I've ever done a talk on anxiety. One of the first things I asked is like, Hey, how many people have felt anxiety before? Every time everyone raises their hand, I've never had someone I've never had like someone just saying like, no, I'm not. I'm don't know what that is. You know, there's no, I've always lived in absolute bliss my entire life. Um, because that just is not the, it's not, it's a normal human experience. Anxiety is a normal human experience. And we got to get to that point where we understand that, because if we judge the presence of an uncomfortable feeling as a bad thing, well then what are we going to do?
We're going to try to get rid of that. And the paradox of anxiety treatment is, is that we don't try to get rid of anxiety. Right? That's what exposure and response prevention is. Right. We move towards anxiety, right? We, in many ways normalize the experience of anxious, thoughts of anxious feelings, right. And we learn to trust our body's ability to meet them and address them and, um, and, and process them right. In a healthy, correct way. What actually happens with anxiety is, is a complete paradox is we have these feelings. We don't like, we try to get rid of them. Right. Doing a variety of behaviors. So it could be things like avoidance reassurance, checking, controlling, um, you know, different types of addiction. Right. Um, you know, that we try to neutralize our families, right. Like, so I need to feel better. Right. Um, and the problem is, is that when we try to get rid of them, we suppress them.
Right. And we don't let the process happen naturally. And then therefore the feelings come back up to the surface more and more oftentimes in a, in a heavier way. Right. And I, I, you often use the metaphor of like pushing a beach ball under water. Right. And what happens will that beach ball comes back up to the surface, right. Every time. And in many ways, that energy that we experience when we suppress it and we do things to mask it. Right. That's why, um, you know, using chemicals to suppress anxiety, right? Like people, you know, will often talk about marijuana or weed being a, you know, something to help with anxiety. And like, as someone who works with anxiety, you know, people with anxiety, like all day, every day, it's like, Oh my goodness. It's like, I couldn't, I couldn't think further from like, from that.
Right. I couldn't be on the more polar end of that statement, because when you mask the feeling of anxiety with a chemical, you know, especially like marijuana or alcohol, right. And you just make it go away temporarily, it comes right back to the surface. Right. And so our ability to normalize the feeling of anxiety is a huge part of our recovery from it. So when you, when you say like, is this a chronic condition, well, is the experience of anxiety, something you're going to experience throughout your life? Yes. We will not have, you know, w we don't aim for someone to only feel happiness. Right? Like that, the question in many ways sets you up for failure. Like, um, w when it's like, can I get over, can I get rid of this? Right. Or, and that's why it's really about when someone asks this question to me, it's really about getting the question clear, because, you know, like Tony Robbins famously says, right, the quality of our life is determined by the quality of the questions we ask.
Well, if we want to never feel anxiety again, we're setting ourself up for failure. Right. But when we look at anxiety disorders, not as a problem of anxiety, but as a loop that someone gets caught in where they're having thoughts or feelings that, you know, are uncomfortable to them, and they're doing things to get rid of them, which is creating temporary relief, but ultimately keeps them trapped in this loop. Right. And if we look at the problem of anxiety as a loop that we need to break out of, then yes. Like I absolutely believe in recovery. I've watched people totally transform their lives around and not only myself to, you know, where I was totally lost in a world of OCD and anxiety when I was, you know, in my late teens and early twenties. And yeah. Like I used to ask those same questions, like, is recovery possible?
Right? Can I get better? Yes, absolutely. Right. Like, don't, let me just blanketly say that. Yes, absolutely. But part of that comes with the idea of what we're actually looking to change when we try to change anxiety, the problem is we're focusing on the wrong problem, right. Because anxiety is a normal experience. So when we try to change anxiety, what happens is, is it keeps us in that loop, right. That's one of the behaviors we do when we learn to eliminate the behaviors and actually trust our body's ability to ride through anxiety, right. And to ride through fear and realize that that's a normal feeling for us to feel. And then it's not a disorder to feel the presence of anxiety. The, the way we look at recovery changes. Right. And that's why I wanted to make this episode on this, because it's a question that I get often where it's like, you know, the, the idea of recovery and what that means.
And once we have that common ground of understanding what recovery really means, that's when we can achieve it. But when we're working towards two different things. So that's when people often get stuck. And there's a lot of like, you know, butting heads, so to speak. So I think that in many ways, our, our society done a poor job of it find the problem. Right. You know, because, and that's part of what we do at restorative minds. Right. It's really about education. Like that has to be the first step of recovery. Right. Of really educating what is the problem, right? Because if we see, you know, someone experiencing anxiety, right. And let's say, you know, prototypical case of someone who's afraid of, um, you know, contamination and they're washing their hands. Well, if we see that because they're anxious and when they wash their hands, it makes them feel better.
Yes. That does happen in the short term, in many of the things people do operate from that short term, you know, perspective of, I need to feel better today, but what happens is in the more and more we try to feel better today, the smaller and smaller islet our life gets over the longterm. So when we can shift our perspective to focusing on our long-term health, our longterm mental, as opposed to our short term, that is actually what allows recovery it again, I know it sounds, it's very backwards, right? Like this treatment is, is, is so backwards on every level, right? The more and more you try not to feel anxiety, the more you're going to feel it, the more you try not to think about something, the more you're going to think about it, the more and more you are willing to feel anxiety the less and less that you actually feel it.
Right. Because when it surfaces, you don't see it as a bad thing. So you're allowing yourself to process it. And it happens very naturally. And recovery is really about building skillsets, right? It's not about managing anxiety or coping with anxiety for the rest of your life. It's learning to trust your body. And in learning that you can sit with that feeling that the feeling is temporary and you, your body has the ability to process it, right? Like these are, these are fundamental shifts of how we look at anxiety, right. Or OCD or panic attacks, you know, whatever. If we choose to see them as a bad thing, we'll always try to get rid of them, which will then perpetuate. Right. You know, I think it was Carl Young that famously said, like, what, what you resist persists. If you resist these feelings, they're going to persist.
Like, that's, that's the whole paradox. Right. And when we talk about recovery, it's not about the absence of uncomfortable thoughts or uncomfortable feelings. What it is is about learning that the behaviors you're doing to make yourself feel better in the short term are going to impact you in the longterm in a negative way. So choosing our long-term mental health and being willing to sit with discomfort temporarily is really the key to recovery and the key to success in many ways now. Sure. There's lots of details and lots of tools and, you know, cognitive behavioral techniques, as well as exposures, you know, and, and things like that, that we take people through right. At restored minds. But that overall concept of recovery it's like, yes, absolutely. I want to emphasize that I believe recovery is possible if it's possible for one person it's possible for anyone.
And I really believe that when it comes to dealing with issues of anxiety. So if you're dealing with something like OCD, social anxiety, panic attacks, um, general anxiety or phobias, like I absolutely believe in recovery, but I need to clarify what that means. Right. It's not the absence of anxiety that we're trying to achieve. It's to get you out of that loop that you're in. And once you get out of the loop, what happens is your stress response stops firing. So you're able to live yes. With less anxiety. Right. And it's not firing off all the time, but we're not trying to achieve that by getting rid of anxiety. Right. And that's the paradox of recovery, right. There is the more and more you're willing to embrace it, the more and more your body regulates. Right. And so, um, anyways, so I just wanted to share those thoughts on this episode today because, um, it's a question that I get a lot and I wanted to, um, you know, really, really make this episode to help clarify that.
And if this is something you're struggling with, again, over at restorative minds, we have lots of resources available for you from support groups, to, you know, our, um, you know, our zooms, uh, our coaching calls, as well as our taking back control program, which is really where you're going to learn the skill sets you need, um, to really start breaking out of those loops. And, um, and we also have some free resources as well. You know, we have, uh, a free meditation, uh, right down in the notes, um, beneath this, you can get some links where you'll get access to that as well. So if you've found this helpful, um, we'd really appreciate if you'd take the time to like, and subscribe as well as a share and comment and let us know, uh, you know, ideas for future episodes. And, and again, check out the resources and the notes, uh, if it's something you struggle with, because I think they'll really help you. And so thank you for taking the time to be with us today and hope you guys have a great week and I'll see you soon.