Stressful Times in the COVID-19 World

Hi everyone. We know that there is a lot of information out there these days that is very scary – especially if you have an anxiety disorder. But, in the word of Douglas Adams, “Don’t Panic.”

How do you survive the COVID-19 scare? Follow these simple tips and see how you feel.

1. Get your information from reliable sources ONLY. Use the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) or the World Health Organization (WHO).

2. Check information on the virus only once per day. Otherwise, it will just be overwhelming. Limit your screen time to all fo this as it is just overwhelming to be inundated with so much information, much of which is speculation.

3. Avoid conversations that start with, “You know, I heard that they said….” Who THEY is in these conversations is suspect, so best to just walk away.

4. Wash your hands when you come in from being out in public. Now, this is different than we have ever suggested to people with OCD in the past, where we would suggest to delay or even not wash hands, but with the CDC recommendations as they are, a 20 second hand wash when coming home is fine, More than 20 seconds is getting into OCD territory if you have OCD, and if you do not, more than 20 seconds actually can do more harm than good, as it starts to wash off oils from your hands, and that is going to lead to your hands getting dry and chapped and then you could increase the chance of getting some type of contamination.

5. Clean surfaces in your home. If you do not leave your home, no need to do this daily. If surfaces are touched by things from outside, a quick wipe down will suffice. No need to spend hours here doing that.

6. BE good examples for your children and put on a good face. Do not scare them more by your own fears.

7. Take advantage of the family time you are given with schools closing and work from home options.

8. Start to buy baby items, because in 9 to 10 months we are going to see a spike in new born babies.

9. Be nice to others in stores. There is panic buying going on – reminds me of Y2K actually. So, be kind to others.

10. If you are in need of help, we have therapists at Anxiety Centers of Illinois who are ready to assist you. Reach out to us and let us help.

Best to you.

Patrick B. McGrath, Ph.D.

President, Anxiety Centers of Illinois

Know the Four Rules of OCD

know the rulesRule number 1 to remember – OCD lies to you.
Remember this phrase and you will do well. In all of the years that we have been treating OCD we have never once found it to tell the truth. OCD tells you that it is telling the truth, but that is also a lie.

If OCD were telling the truth, then you have to consider why it tells you that you need to do things that people without OCD do not need to do? If OCD were to tell you the truth, then it would tell you to act like everyone else does since most everyone else is able to live their lives successfully without OCD.

Rule number 2: OCD does not help you.
Many people have said to me that they would not have survived college or done well in jobs or other areas without a little OCD. First of all, no one has a little OCD – you either have it or you don’t. So, if you did well in college or on a job then take credit for that – you did well because you had the skills to do well. If you do have OCD and you were able to do well in class or on a job then it was in spite of the fact that you have OCD that you were able to be successful, as OCD interferes in people’s lives more than it helps them.

Rule number 3: OCD is not your friend.
I know that you and your OCD talk to each other and at times it is the most powerful “voice” in your life. However, it is not your friend. Friends do not ask you to do things over and over again. Friends do not set goals for you to attain that are impossible to achieve, and friends surely do not punish you constantly for doing something wrong. So, OCD is not your friend, and you need to dump your OCD.

Rule number 4: You can overcome your OCD.
If you want help, our therapists here at ACI can assist you in challenging your OCD. WE WILL NOT CURE YOU. No one can be cured of OCD, and if a therapist tells you that they can cure you then they are lying. What we can do is teach you how to live with your OCD.

Consider this – everyone in the world experiences intrusive thoughts. OCD is all about intrusive thoughts, but people with OCD believe the thoughts to be true or to mean something while people without OCD, WHO HAVE THE SAME THOUGHTS, blow them off and think that it was odd to have had such a thought.

The lie (back to number 1) of OCD is that it tells you that you need to undo your thoughts when, in fact, all they are are thoughts and you need not do anything at all about having had a thought.

So, come and work with our therapists so that we can show you how to challenge your OCD and you can learn to live with it and not be ruled by it.