One of the craftiest features of OCD is that it can pick on any habit or activity and convert that into an obsession. Including the recovery process itself. Some sufferers try to spend some time during sessions to understand if they are doing their exposures well. They want to do their exposures perfectly well otherwise their OCD tells them that they may not recover. These sufferers may become obsessive about filling in worksheets that are supposed to help, repeatedly asking if they are doing it right.

If they have to face their fears by handling a knife in front of their children, they would try to find out the best possible way to do that. Their reassurance-seeking would not be about whether it is safe to do the exposure or not. Their reassurance-seeking would be about whether they are infusing enough risk in the exposure. Instead of asking ‘is it safe for me to keep the knife so close to my children?’ they may ask ‘am I doing this right or do I need to get closer?’ As you can perhaps see, they are still seeking reassurance.

Some sufferers may get obsessive about getting the right diet, medicines and supplements and end up journalling excessively about what they eat. At some level, monitoring what one eats is a good habit, but this can also potentially become compulsive, if your focus is only on trying to find out what you can eat to get better.

Then there are those who use exercise as a way to beat their anxiety. That is good, isn’t it? But if they begin to have withdrawal symptoms if they do not exercise, it stops being good. Then it becomes compulsive.

Anything that can help can also potentially become compulsive. The solution lies in being okay with the uncertainty of not doing it well or not doing it enough.

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