The Road To Recovery (One Person’s Opinion)
(Information for this essay comes from the books “The Road Less Traveled” by M. Scott Peck, M.D. and “Anatomy of an Illness” by Norman Cousins)
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The road to recovery from any psychological wound is a long, painful journey. And despite other peoples’ attempts at compassion and sympathy, the road to recovery is often traveled alone.
For the record, I suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder crippled by anxiety, constantly having to check things obsessively. And I wage 2 battles – with OCD itself and the lack of genuine support from family, friends, fellow OCD sufferers and the medical field – being misunderstood by many. I also suffer from general anxiety disorder and depression. My OCD is my main illness.
On the road to recovery, we may meet fellow sufferers in support groups who will question our own integrity, thinking since their form of therapy has worked for them, it should work for anyone.
What works for one person doesn’t necessarily work for the next. One man’s medicine is another man’s poison.
We have no right to criticize another individual’s path to recovery. All we can do is encourage each other to find his own path to recovery.
When I started to set up support groups for OCD sufferers and their families about 20 years ago, I was told by health professionals that I had no right offering therapy. All I could do was ask members to share what worked for them.
We must realize that a person who insists his way is the only way may be practicing a form of cognitive behavior therapy without proper certifications.
On the road to recovery, we may come to realize a” quick fix” from medications may not be the only answer. The medication may reduce our symptoms but we may still remain sick.
Our symptoms may be the tip of the iceberg of far more severe emotional problems. The symptoms may not be the illness but the beginning of the cure. They may reflect some defect in our spirituality. And our human spirit may be in need of repair.
My need to hand wash may make me feel clean but, in reality, may reflect a feeling of my low opinion of myself and my lack of ability to accept myself as worthy. My obsession for personal hygiene also may be my reflection of low self esteem.
Writing about symptoms of neurotic illnesses – i.e. anxiety etc., in his classic best seller “The Road Less Traveled”, American psychiatrist M. Scott Peck M.D. states: “the symptoms are the beginning of the cure and are there for the patient to examine his life and administer repair.” And the symptoms of OCD fall into that category.
But this is only a theory. And it takes a lot of faith.
We must realize to take this approach takes a lot of work. It means questioning, analysizing, and soul searching. It never ends. Sadly, most of us are reluctant to do so since it involves confronting pain and anxiety we are trying to avoid.
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In order for an athlete, hurting from an injury, to continue to play, he is often given a pain killer. The source of his injury hasn’t been allowed to truly heal.
He goes out, wins his game but in the process, he has made his injury worse. Is this medically ethical for the player? How about the doctor?
For the same reason, we pop medications to relieve the pain from OCD or from other illnesses but are we doing ourselves more harm when meds may be masking the “source” of the problems? The “why” behind our illnesses?
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Finally, I am personally not a big fan in taking medications for my OCD.
Medications have not worked for me. I believe for them to work, one must believe they are going to work. We call this the power of suggestion. They also make me prone to suicide. (I have spoken to my family doctor about this.)
But there are greater reasons why I’m reluctant to take medications. Things that the pills simply can not do:
Medications don’t give me the wisdom to combat my fears; only humans are capable of doing that.
Medications can not feel my pain, show empathy and compassionate towards me. Only humans can do that. Values that can bring on healing.
Medications do not love me back to health. Only humans with caring hearts can do that. This, too, can ease my pain.
In order for my recovery to occur, I must address my entire self and all my needs and not just the OCD symptoms. Or I will remain sick. Sadly, the present psychiatric system fails to do this.
Ken works as a security guard. He’s a struggling writer of sketch comedy and pieces on spiritual issues. He wants to set up a non- profit comedy troupe for the community, entertaining in hospitals, drop-in centres, etc. He has established a troupe for psychiatric and physically-challenged communities to participate in. He is also interested in the plight of psychiatric patients and other poverty-related issues. Ken can be reached at email@example.com