Dis-Trusting My Intuition

by thethreepennyguignol

It’s been a little while since I last updated my OCDiaries series, and something has been on my mind (…obsessively, even?) for a while: the question of OCD and intuition.

Intuition is something all of us are taught to rely on from the day we realise we have it. That gut feeling, buried down deep inside, that tells us one way or another exactly how we’re feeling – a sensation that manifests in a million different little ways to nudge us in one direction or the other, made up of a hundred different psychological and physical inputs (side note: if you want to read a genuinely brilliant book about intuition and gut feeling, check out The Gift of Fear by Gavin de Becker).

You know what else likes to use dozens of psychological and physical indicators to tell us that something’s wrong? Anxiety, the canny wee bitch. OCD, despite my best efforts, is still an anxiety disorder, and I’ve been pondering recently on the ways that long-term anxiety disorders impact our relationships with our intuition.

Because I feel as though I really don’t have much of a delineation between Actual Real Problems That Are Happening in the Real World and Stupid Shit My Brain Tells Me is A Very Real Issue. When you’re in the midst of an anxious spiral, negotiating that space between reality and panicked fiction is virtually impossible, about as feasible as cheering up when you’re depressed. Anxiety and OCD have a strange overlap with delusions, in some ways, in that you are acting on and responding to something that isn’t real. But it feels real, profoundly so, in ways that are impossible to explain if you’re lucky enough not to have an explosively annoying head-space to live in.

Part of treatment, for me, has been working on widening the space between real problems and those my brain is just inventing for fun. I can’t always tell the difference, but I have a better ability now to grasp on to what is actually happening and what isn’t – a series of questions and calming behaviour to take on before I start allowing my intuition to blow up my proverbial phone.

But the process of this has taught me to ignore my intuition sometimes – at least, to reason with it and question it in a way that I never would have had it not been causing such problems in my life before. To trust my intuition would be to spend about 40% of my time at a doctor’s office, and the intervening hours scrubbing my house until my hands crack or checking my body for lumps over and over again until I’m bruised. I can’t trust my intuition, because it’s actively trying to ruin my life. My intuition is meant to be there to help me, but when it’s spent so much time actively trying to harm me, I have to do what I can to shut it the hell up.

So how can I trust my intuition when I have to ignore it? I’m trying to find a balance again between listening to my gut feeling, and parsing out when it’s being helpful and when it’s acting up for the fun of it (I can only assume). If you deal with anxiety, how do you manage trusting your gut and not allowing mis-firing brain-bullshit to get in the way of it? I would love to hear about it in the comments!

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