Mental Health Q & A: Dear Lex

Dear Lex,

I’m compelled to trace certain numbers in the air, twirl my pen and touch the corners of paper. This is all to cope with my generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). The bad thoughts start coming and I am compelled to get relief by doing these things. The thoughts never stop. The compulsions happen in infinitum. I just cannot stop. I’ve tried listening to music to interrupt my thoughts, meditating, running, strength training. All this works for a minute. But when I am working or idle, I am back at it. OCD is driving me crazy. I also repeat myself over and over to reassure myself that everything will get done today. I need to try freewriting more like I am doing now to occupy my fingers and thoughts. Whether typing or through a journal this serves to stop the thoughts and give me something else to focus on. I also love to play with pens and pencils twisting them in the air, making shapes with them. 


Dear Compelled,

You need to find out exactly why these thoughts occur. Next time, one occurs, start freewriting about why you think you are having the thought. If you can pinpoint the why of the thought, you can self-talk next time it happens. You can say to the thought “I know this is distressing but it is not what I want to focus on right now. Please go.” Or “Everything will be fine. I don’t need to do this now.” Or you can allot time to do the compulsion as a reward for doing actual work. Though, the latter is not recommended. You don’t want to reinforce negative behavior. Exercise, writing, meditating and listening to music all will help. It sounds like you have started to develop some coping mechanisms naturally. 


If you have questions for Lex, please email me on the contact form on this blog. 

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