I’m Liz Funk. I’m a writer and speaker in my late twenties who lives in upstate New York. People who meet me have no idea I have no OCD until I tell them, because my OCD is pretty much under control and I’m healthy and really happy.
This wasn’t always the case.
When I was twenty-three, my world went dark.
Catastrophic scenarios played out in my head and I felt “on guard” all the time. It took me thirty minutes to check that I had set my alarm clock at night, because I was obsessed with the idea that I would oversleep and be late for work (and get fired).
I had a cool job at a startup (where they actually really liked me), an apartment in Brooklyn that I loved, and a great social life. But I also had a constant, nagging sense that I needed to protect myself in a world that felt hostile. Every day, I agonized over a new catastrophe that seemed poised to ruin my life.
When things got too dark for me to handle alone, I reached out and told some people I trusted, “I don’t know what is happening right now, but something is very, very wrong.”
After I was diagnosed with OCD, things got even darker. I had a really hard time finding a therapist who specialized in OCD. If you don’t treat OCD right, it’s like scratching a rash to make it fade away. I talked with therapists who suspected I had repressed trauma and who wanted to analyze what I was afraid of. What I needed was someone who could coach me on how to react to my irrational fears and not “feed the OCD monster.”
For a year, I got worse instead of better.
I eventually found a therapist who specialized in OCD, and saw her weekly. I read every book on OCD I could find. I started meditating.
My life changed dramatically when I heard these simple words: “Okay, so I’m having this thought.”
I was lucky enough to meet a woman who was an OCD veteran—she was diagnosed ten years earlier, when she was in her late twenties, and she did “the work” to get better. She was happy, healthy, and living her life. In fact, you’d never know there was anything “different” about her if you met her at a summer barbeque: she dressed preppy and wore skinny jeans cuffed at the ankle. Yet, like many people who recover from severe OCD, she occasionally had scary visions or disturbing thoughts. She told me that when that happened, her tried-and-true strategy was to shrug and say to herself…
"Okay... so I'm having that thought."
At the time, I had no idea that those six little words would change the way I lived my life.
This approach was so simple, yet so radical. When you say, “Okay, so I’m having that thought,” you validate that the thought is there. You accept that the thought is there. You’re not debating whether the thought has some truth to it or whether there is something to be afraid of; you’re not even touching what the thought is about.
“Okay, so I’m having that thought,” doesn’t push the thought away, either. The thought just hangs out in your peripheral vision. You don’t engage with it and you don’t fight it. You keep going about your day and you keep living your life.
I made “Okay, so I’m having that thought” my mantra, a rule to live by.
At first, it was hard.
Every OCD thought or urge I had, from the moment I swung my feet out of bed to the moment I climbed under the sheets at night, I said, Okay, so I’m having that thought. Some days, by 7pm, I was completely depleted by feigning nonchalance every time I had an anxious thought. But the magnitude of the slow-but-steady progress I made was thrilling.
I could feel my brain changing.
It wasn’t that I had more control over my thoughts or fewer anxious thoughts; I had more control over how I reacted to them.
Instead of seeing OCD as a mental illness or a disease, I see OCD as a lifestyle. It’s powerful to accept that you have OCD and that it doesn’t really “go away.” You can add so much light to your life when decide that OCD is part of your life experience; you can decide that you want to learn to live as harmoniously as possible with it.
Befriending OCD allowed me to get the light back in my life. I want to help you do the same. Please meander around this website and email me if you need any help finding support and resources.