Over the last several years, for those that have some form of internet access, YouTube has become a huge part of our lives. We are familiar with the ads that pop up before some videos. In order for us to get to the video we are waiting for, we often have to let the ads run for a matter of seconds before we hit the Skip Ads icon to move on to the video. This is of course assuming we may not have any interest in the product being advertised on the ad, maybe we will be interested, we don’t know for sure. This can also happen in the “middle” of a video that we are already watching. This often reminds me of an intrusive thought, image or urge that comes along with our OCD. I continue to show my brain that it is possible to let it be there, and then move ahead to the content I am wanting to watch, listen to, or actually think about. We are not choosing our thoughts, but we do have control of where we go next. It’s not always easy, but it is doable.
When the ocd symptom has popped up, we are often led to believe that by reacting to it, that this will decrease the anxiety or discomfort and make us feel better. We know this is only temporary and that this just feeds the monster. If the video I am wanting to play is worth waiting for, then my goal is to let the ads run then skip ahead. My life is worth waiting for, except I am not waiting for it. We can embrace this stuff as we push ahead. By not reacting, we can try to enjoy those moments whether the thoughts are there or not. Our life doesn’t stop if we have intrusive thoughts, let’s embrace this and move ahead in a direction we care about. If I decide to completely avoid the ads, and therefore click out of the video, then I may be letting the annoyance of accepting what is get in the way of my goal. If I try to avoid the fact that I have an intrusive thought pop up, by avoiding or fighting it, we know just this makes it that much stronger.
We know that we fight ocd by not fighting it. If I want to get past the ads, and to the video, I can’t force the ads away by wishing for it or getting upset about it. If I embrace it, it will pass. If we don’t embrace it, it still passes, but we are letting these things that are out of control continue to cause us more discomfort. We may end up getting lost in an ad that we want to watch or listen to. Uncertainty means that we can also “go down a rabbit hole ” in areas that we enjoy thinking about. Fun stuff, laughter, thinking about our partner or the person we are dating, things we are looking forward to, etc. These are some examples of paying attention to thoughts that we want to spend time with, not just feeding the ocd with more rituals or rumination.
Choosing to play a video is intentional. Even if ocd has latched onto this, and watching another video is just another ritual. Yes it’s unfortunate, as ocd has many layers of cruelty, but it is still intentional. Leaning into what we value is intentional, it’s a choice, even if we can only do this in a very small way. So I am choosing to play the video, and also choosing to live my life, knowing that OCD can still pop up. Similar to active exposures, I am moving into a direction that I value. I value looking the beast in the eyes, because this is our path to more peace. If I want to watch that next video, regardless of the reason, I am willing to embrace the ads. We know OCD is often torment, but the truth is the next moments are unknown as well; bad, good, or somewhere in between. It’s just more uncertainty. Couldn’t that uncertain future be something different than what our fears tell us? Most of us know what that different feels like, we may have a time in our life where things were less tormenting. Can we use this as a time to remember for ongoing motivation to lean into our goals and treatment? Being mindful of a time when the mental pain was less, and trying to look forward to that future of uncertainty that could be filled with positive possibilities.