I was thinking about how much wasted time I have spent dealing with OCD. How much time have I wasted in ruminating, obsessing, ritualizing? It is really a shame. If you add up all the wasted time it can be very disheartening. Mine could be years, and time stops for no one. Time will continue on if you are happy, sad, enjoying yourself, or not. Time doesn't care what you are going through and will never let you relive lost moments. It is also physically taxing on the body to endure stress for long periods of time. I have noticed that after periods where my OCD acts up, I feel intense fatigue which doesn't go away as fast as it used to. All of this is frustrating and has caused me to become angry at myself. But it is not my fault, nor the fault of anyone who has OCD or in fact any of the co-existing disorders, like Depression, ADD, Tourette's, etc.
Some people take drugs to mask the symptoms and dull the pain, and I don't blame them, nor do I criticize their actions. In fact, for intense periods of stress, easing the suffering of the mind and body can be helpful. But these are not long term solutions.
Short of inventing a Time Machine, What could I do to improve my experience on this planet instead of wasting large amounts of time suffering through endless ruminating and anxiety?
What has helped me, and continues to help are some great things I have learned.
Acceptance is the first one. This is very important because people will beat themselves up over so many things associated with dealing with a disorder. You have to acknowledge a problem before you can address it. This takes a lot of pressure off. Yes, your mind is not focused, you are doing useless rituals, you can't follow a conversation, you worry what people may think of odd behaviors; this is just how you are and not your fault. It is your brain chemistry. Make peace with your condition.
Another thing is Mindfulness. That means literally forcing your mind to be focused in the minute you are in so you do not waste time focusing on the past or the future. Much suffering from mental disorders involves ruminating, endless thinking of past or future events, fear that something bad will happen, or guilt or fear over something that already happened. If locked in to this pattern, some people may not even know where they are, what they ate. By forcing yourself to notice 5 things around you right NOW, can break the grip of obsessing. I have read where people also say touching something and focusing on the texture helps bring them into the current minute and out of their distressing mental world.
Music- that is, if you enjoy it. Even if you have no focus or a lot of anxiety, put on something that has good memories attached to it. Perhaps a song from a happy time. Play it a few times in a row. This will ground you to the happy time and help create a better present moment.
One more fast thing to do is to press on the middle of the pad in your thumb, the reflex for the pituitary gland. If you hit it in the right spot, which is the center of the widest part of the thumb, behind the nail, it will relieve some tension and ground you to the present moment. You can use a pencil eraser, or your fingernail and probe until you feel a sharp sensation, that is the right spot.
I will be writing more about natural methods that I have found to help OCD and related disorders. But for now, I hope these can help you to break the cycle of ritualizing and overthinking, and bring you more enjoyment of the present moment, which is really all we have.