Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Filter

Knowing your limitations, but aim high anyway?

Recommended Posts

I'm thinking of going back to university and studying for a new career (perhaps teaching/medicine, which of course can be stressful careers) but am mindful of the fact that OCD is a chronic illness and I've heard that stress is often not the best for it? I suppose all we can do in continuing with our lives once realising we have OCD is to try things and see how they go? I'm just not sure how or whether I should possibly try to alter my life's trajectory now that I know I have a chronic mental illness and I'm curious about what others have done (including people who have got their life back on track). I sometimes feel that thoughts of 'you wouldn't want to be selfish and do something when you're not good enough' might be coming from an OCD/depression place but at the same time I feel you've got to be honest with yourself and know your limitations etc.

Cheers :)

Share this post


Link to post

Hi Filter, lately there has been a lot of talk about OCD being a chronic illness and I think what you describe could be one of the problems of labeling it so. OCD is a chronic illness no doubt but that simply means it lasts longer than a few months or may for some be recurring. It is possible that you could try a career that involves stress and OCD symptoms arise but I am sure you have equipped yourself with the knowledge to treat it when and if that happens. In that case the OCD would merely be an acute illness that you could treat immediately.

If you feel fit and well now you should definitely feel encouraged to go for a career you want with the knowledge that you have overcame OCD once you could overcome any blip in the future. OCD takes so much from us that I think we should try to not let it take any more but it's your choice and as long as you do something you enjoy it doesn't matter what it is :)

Edited by Gemma7

Share this post


Link to post

Ocd can without doubt put limitations on your career but on the flip side of the coin Google famous people with ocd , you will be surprised how many people from all walks of life suffer from the very poor to the very rich and seemingly successful !!

I was advised by my doctor that if I were to return to the workplace a low stress occupation would be more suitable but even some of Britain's top surgeons , sports people and business leaders have ocd

Take your time and good luck

Share this post


Link to post

I'm thinking of going back to university and studying for a new career (perhaps teaching/medicine, which of course can be stressful careers) but am mindful of the fact that OCD is a chronic illness and I've heard that stress is often not the best for it? I suppose all we can do in continuing with our lives once realising we have OCD is to try things and see how they go? I'm just not sure how or whether I should possibly try to alter my life's trajectory now that I know I have a chronic mental illness and I'm curious about what others have done (including people who have got their life back on track). I sometimes feel that thoughts of 'you wouldn't want to be selfish and do something when you're not good enough' might be coming from an OCD/depression place but at the same time I feel you've got to be honest with yourself and know your limitations etc.

Hi Filter,

OCD is indeed a chronic illness (for some) but equally it can be and is a treatable illness for all. There will be varying levels of recovery, but there is no reason to think that you should change your life's ambitions for OCD. Heck, having life ambitions is a great motivator to fight the OCD.

Gemma is right, OCD takes so much from us, where possible we should try to not let it take any more.

There are people that live with OCD from all walks of lives. Our own membership includes teachers, GPs, actors, pilots, lawyers, surgeon, nurses, police officers and that is just the people I know of. My buddy and co-founder Steve once had chronic OCD to the point he had to stop working for a while, but got better and went back to work and is the chief executive of a major gold mining investment bank, he fly's the globe now and regularly meets with presidents and prime ministers of European countries where his company is investing millions.

Don't get me wrong, I am sure OCD makes all of those people work extra harder at their chosen profession's because of OCD, but somehow they have managed to survive.

There is another point to take into consideration. We all know if we give OCD an inch it will take a mile, so even if you lowered your limitations and expectations for a career you perhaps would have not primarily chose, the problem is if left untreated then at some stage the OCD will make that a problem too, so whatever you choose the chances are OCD will be there nipping at your ankles anyway. So I guess what I am saying is two-fold, don't let OCD dictate your career path and continue to work at eradicating the OCD to make your career path easier to navigate.

Good luck whatever you choose to do :)

Share this post


Link to post

There ARE cases where high-stress activities that you find meaningful are actually a good distraction from OCD. I've found certain kinds of volunteering puts my thoughts in perspective and I'm able to say 'Not now, OCD! People need me to work for them!' So if you found teaching incredibly important, even if stressful, your brain might adjust to the idea that your career HAD to take priority.

Otherwise, I think Ashley puts it brilliantly, but my own stage of recovery is fragile enough that I don't yet know if I'd choose a stressful career myself. It seems one thing to say it and another thing to be brave enough to do it! Hopefully I'll be able to say unequivocally that stress needn't be an issue, when I'm a few weeks on and feeling more resilient :) I agree we shouldn't be held back by the mere possibility of becoming ill again!

Ultimately I still think you can be kind to yourself and ease into new levels of stress without an unhelpful OCD flare-up. Get support from disability services whilst you're studying, take on new extracurricular responsibilities one at a time, and have coping strategies in place, and maybe you'll find you can handle more stress than you ever knew? I've certainly surprised myself a few times.

Share this post


Link to post

There ARE cases where high-stress activities that you find meaningful are actually a good distraction from OCD. I've found certain kinds of volunteering puts my thoughts in perspective and I'm able to say 'Not now, OCD! People need me to work for them!' So if you found teaching incredibly important, even if stressful, your brain might adjust to the idea that your career HAD to take priority.

Otherwise, I think Ashley puts it brilliantly, but my own stage of recovery is fragile enough that I don't yet know if I'd choose a stressful career myself. It seems one thing to say it and another thing to be brave enough to do it! Hopefully I'll be able to say unequivocally that stress needn't be an issue, when I'm a few weeks on and feeling more resilient :) I agree we shouldn't be held back by the mere possibility of becoming ill again!

Ultimately I still think you can be kind to yourself and ease into new levels of stress without an unhelpful OCD flare-up. Get support from disability services whilst you're studying, take on new extracurricular responsibilities one at a time, and have coping strategies in place, and maybe you'll find you can handle more stress than you ever knew? I've certainly surprised myself a few times.

Actually that's a really good point too that I forgot to mention. Work, instead of adding stress and making OCD worse (which can happen) it can also be used the exact opposite way too in using it as part of your therapy. I remember having my big OCD breakthrough one Saturday where I was able to use the toilet at home without bath/showering. So I purposely went into the office on Monday with clear intention to push my OCD and I chose to use the loo at work (something I had avoided for 10+ years). So I used the loo, I did wash my hands for a minute or two (which beats the 2-3 hours I would have taken the week before!) and I went back to my desk with some anxiety lingering, I took the most challenging and difficult technical call in the queue, I called the customer and after about 40 minutes focussing on that I hung up and my lingering anxiety was now down below the desk and I just burst out laughing!

Share this post


Link to post
Thanks so much everyone for all the advice :) You've definitely got me thinking that maybe I shouldn't let OCD dictate terms as much as I'd thought.


I guess what I was thinking was, well, with medicine for example people's lives are at stake and not being on one's game because of OCD or what not would be a serious thing.


Plus what's different for us is it's not like a physical illness where one can rest up and be treated and get better and then get back into things... with mental illness, at least OCD or depression, it seems a lot more wishy washy, and the 'treatment' is actually getting out there and doing stuff (as opposed to recuperating somewhere) to actually get better.


I just find it hard to know whether it's just the guilt that comes with OCD or the OCD idea that one needs to be perfect (when no one's really perfect) that's getting to me, or if it's just me being honest about my own abilities.


I guess if I felt down the track I wasn't up to the task and my OCD was impacting my ability to give people a good enough standard of medical care I could be honest with myself and give it up, but it'd be a lot of work down the drain if that ultimately happened.

Share this post


Link to post

You have a choice of whichever stress you wish, and nobody can deny you that choice. You can choose the stress you’ll experience when opting to study a subject you don’t really like, but doing it because you feel it may lead to better things. You can choose a lesser stress by selecting a subject you really enjoy, because the more you like a subject, the easier it becomes to absorb the material. You can, of course, opt for the greatest stress by doing nothing at all; thereby having nothing positive in your life, and no dreams of the future. Other than the well-being of loved-ones, sitting on ones hands is the greatest stress of all.

Share this post


Link to post

I guess what I was thinking was, well, with medicine for example people's lives are at stake and not being on one's game because of OCD or what not would be a serious thing.

...

I guess if I felt down the track I wasn't up to the task and my OCD was impacting my ability to give people a good enough standard of medical care I could be honest with myself and give it up, but it'd be a lot of work down the drain if that ultimately happened.

Filter, your concerns are not invalid when it comes to studying medicine. These ARE long courses, and acknowledged as particularly stressful ones. Last estimate, over half of all medical students reported a mental health difficulty, usually anxiety related to study pressure. So you can look at that two ways: 1) This course isn't for you, or 2) Studying to help others gives you a great incentive to do your ERP as hard as you can and get well, you have a major advantage because you already know you have a mental health issue and how to deal with it (better than a healthy student suddenly hearing voices and having a meltdown in finals week...) AND since you have OCD, you're almost certainly a naturally conscientious person who'll prioritize patient wellbeing no matter what.

If you do consider medicine maybe go for a degree that's not a 6-year doctor's one? If there's a sub-field you're interested in, consider a shorter, specialized course. Unless you REALLY want to be a doctor and nothing else, in which case, I guess don't hold yourself back!

Also research the structure of university courses carefully. Maybe pick one that spreads the assessment out over a period of time and observes your progress frequently, not one where you can invalidate 6 years of work by failing one big exam at the end. IF the OCD decides to bother you whilst studying, that way you have multiple chances to work round it :) Contingency plans aren't the same as giving up, I reckon.

Share this post


Link to post

I also think that deliberately choosing a low-stress job or career because you're worried about the effect it will have on your OCD is a type of avoidance behaviour, as you're avoiding potentially stressful situations which is something we shouldn't be doing. This is because it will only reinforce the OCD, as it reinforces the idea in your brain that your OCD is something to fear and to tiptoe around.

Edited by lynz

Share this post


Link to post

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Restore formatting

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...