Tonight at work, my CEO was talking about how he got over the 4 stages of diabetes: Denial, Anger, Depression, and Acceptance (DADA). I am pretty sure that these same stages can be applied to OCD or any mental health disorder. They might take on slightly different orders or it might look like “dADa” but nonetheless, this discussion stuck a chord with me.
I personally have gone through most of A,D without fully reaching the last A yet.
Denial for me wasn’t part of the cards. I never denied that I struggled. I actually wanted to find out what was going on which is part of the reason I think I have been successful in a shorter period of time (since starting therapy..remember it took me ten years to figure it out). I was motivated to get to the bottom of my mood swings, confusion, mental torture, excessive rumination, and patterns of ups and downs, and actually felt a sense of relief when I was diagnosed with OCD.
Anger, now this represents a bit more of my dealt hand and, how I felt and how I still often feel today.
- “Why me?”
- “Another ingredient thrown in the mix (reference my blog post on Punches)”
- “if only…”
These thoughts filled my head and still do today. Wanting to believe the idea that I was given this life because I was strong enough to live it, but desperately wanting to scream back “Ok, I think I have proven myself with my strength already!” Even more anger arose when people did not understand my illness to the depths of how it needed to be understood. It is not just that I am confused or doubting a relationship, it is literally the circuits in my brain that have adapted to take normal thoughts and hyper focus on them until they feel real. Unfortunately for anger, only you can make that go away when you realize it won’t get better by feeling angry and saying “woe is me” unless you use the anger in a way that motivates you to want to get better.
Depression is a common occurrence with OCD and many mental health illnesses. To be honest, I am not sure what came first but what I remember coming first for me is depression. Now this can be a rabbit hole if you are not careful and you must recognize when depression becomes an issue. I withdrew, felt lonely, hopeless, began to question life, and didnt feel excited about anything anymore. I knew this was not who I was at the core and I felt so far removed from that person that it was scary. I still suffer from times of more depressive symptoms but I now know to push myself out to go workout, see a friend, or do something I enjoy like hike or read or write. There are times when you have to just let it pass and not do much because you dont want to, but I caution you to be aware.
Acceptance-this for me a stage I am working towards. I still hold many grudges and feelings about living with OCD, anxiety, and depression and I try not to let it define me. I hear a lot about Acceptance and Commitment therapy, and how accepting thoughts and OCD can give them less power. This is definitely something I want to try to practice, and I want to be more open about this disorder, how it affects me and others, and embrace this is what I have and deal with giving others fair warning!
How does this settle with you in any struggles, mental health issues, or life circumstances you are facing?
Were you really dealt a bad hand of cards or do we have to adjust how we see the cards?