All my life I have been told to have willpower to meet my goals and fight OCD but I never had any willpower of my own, I always relied on the help of others. But I need to change and deal with my own shit and I know that willpower is a great step forward to do just that.
Willpower doesn't have anything to do with it. OCD is a mental disorder and just like willpower can not cure cancer, it can not cure OCD. What willpower is useful is not succumbing to OCD but to keep trying different things and combination of things (different types and dosages of medication, various therapies and coping mechanisms) and keep on practicing.
Has anyone here ever overcome OCD? What gave you the strength? How did you do it?
I have. I used to have huge germphobia and for a while I wasn't able to even use a bathroom unless it was one which I was the only one using. As a consequence, I was not able to have a full-time job or go to school full time. Seriously limited social life. Dehydration...
Now? I can go to the most disgusting toilet and be fine. I don't like it and it still makes me anxious, but I can do it.
What helped me was to:
Learn as much as possible about what I was afraid of and come up with a backup plan (e.g. what would I do if I xyz). How long are microbes alive and infectious? How big of an infectious does does one need? What would the symptoms be? Could it be treated - if so how? If not, what would my life look like in worst, best and realistic scenario?
Observe others. Clearly there wasn't any epidemics going on where people were infected by a toilet seat. So how do others deal? They wash their hands with only water? Didn't wash them at all! If I wash them twice with soap instead, I should be safe given that I am taking more precautions than most other people - and these other people aren't getting sick. Kind of awkward but very useful.
Talk about these things with my psychologist. Asked her about a hundred times about transmission risks etc.
Confronted myself with what I was afraid of. I literally applied and got a job at a clinical microbiology laboratory. As a germophobic. I have no idea what got me to that to be honest. It sounds rather crazy. But there I was, isolating and identifying pathogens from bodily fluids. And was I anxious? Oh yeah. Did the public toilet feel was less threatening after three months in the lab? Yes.
Small tricks that kept me going:
Talk sense to yourself out aloud. I would keep telling myself stuff like "You have washed your hands twice now. You don't need a third time. Third time might even make you more susceptible for infection. Let it go. If after 15min you still need to wash your hands - go ahead."
Remind yourself how nothing bad happened the last time you didn't do something OCD wanted you to.