Tip #8 How long is a piece of string

For those that are not familiar with the expression “How long is a piece of string?” this expression normally implies that the answer is hard to tell, find out or very complex for varied reasons.  For example if someone asks me: “How long will take me to recover from ROCD?” I would have to reply: “How long is a piece of string?”

The important thing is not to focus on a time frame but on the process of getting better. For some people it might take 6 months, 12 months, a year or a lifetime. It does not really matter. What matters is that we learn to live with ROCD and that we are able to enjoy our relationships.

Then, the important question becomes “what do I need to do to enjoy my relationship more fully?” In my mind and experience, there are three sets of strategies that we can adopt to cope with ROCD with different effect durations. As for effect, I mean in this case release from anxiety and improvement from ROCD symptoms.

Short term solutions (look for immediate release)

  • Running away or avoidance
  • Thought stopping (not recommended in the long term)
  • Worry time (not recommended in the long term)
  • Distractions
  • Breathing exercises

Medium term solutions (look for better understanding of thought processes or cognition)

  • Cognitive behaviour therapies (CBT)
  • Acceptance and commitment therapies (ACT)
  • Medication for anxiety/depression

Long term solutions (look for desensitization)

  • Exposure therapies
  • Mindfulness

I am sure that there are more therapies and strategies, but these are the ones that I have had experience with.There is merit in most of them for all of us. The other aspect is that those therapies that will produce the better long term  effects will take longer to master, so be patient with yourself!


On your ROCD journey, can you see if your focus has been mostly in one of the groups? Or are you trying to find a balance of short, medium and long term solutions?


  1. I been working on acceptance and mindfulness and for the most part they work. Then they don’t at the same time. I have little anxiety. I know ROCD is responsible for breakups be it permanent or temporary and I been through two breakups with the same man all within 16 months of each other. Both were my fault, I will not deny that but my OCD makes me want to believe I’m just lying to myself about that.

    My OCD for years has made me want to achieve perfection in my partner. Instead of letting him just be himself I told him I didn’t want him to drink, or do this or that or be friends with this girl because I didn’t like her. I soon learned I could not change him. And I feel this is where all my doubts have come into place when I realized that and it blocks my emotions, and makes me see all his faults rather then the things that make me like him.

    I have so many worries, and thoughts running through my head I do not know whats mine and what isn’t but they all feel like my own. I’m at the point that I don’t know what i want, and know anything. I been abused in my life and they say those who have tend to cling to people and that makes me think I am desperate. He is my first love in a sense, well we been together since teens and I believe I was more infatuated and now that all infatuation feelings are gone I want to have unconditional love for him but I don’t think I can.

    I don’t feel guilty that’s my problem.

    I’ve done some research into the brain, especially the frontal lobe that controls the personality and emotions. Too get my boyfriend back, I told him that love was not a feeling but an emotion and that I didn’t love him because I felt it but I chose too and when he came back I was HAPPY and I was just obsessing about him. I would gladly just obsess about him. I don’t want to worry about myself.

    I can’t blame him for thinking I am unhappy. I am responsible for my happiness not him. Can I love him despite all my thoughts about not liking him, that we have nothing in common, that he bores me and what not? I want to love him, least I think I do. Honestly I don’t want to explore other guys, or anything. I’m not that interested.

    How can I go from worrying about him and his feelings and wanting me to everything feeling real in my doubts. This disorder is driving me up the wall. I feel better when I’m busy somewhat.

    It’s a problem because we been living in different cities. I know how we are together in person and it always felt great but we havent seen each other in person since the OCD started, we were suppose too before he left and then came back. Now it’s the problem of him in school and his boss giving days off. I feel like everything would be great if we were together but I also worry about that.

    My dreams are also getting in the way. I always knew I didn’t have to worry about missing out on my dreams by being with him. He wants me to achieve them and encourages me and I knew he would be there with me or waiting for me to get back. My dreams are to travel.

    I’m calm most days. Happy. I don’t think of him in the morning. I know it’s normal not to always think of your loved one but about yourself and worry about yourself and makng yourself happy.

    I want to be able to live with this uncertainty. To know I made the right choice by staying with this one man. My first love.

    1. Hi Jess,

      You shared some great insights in your comments. One of the most important things about beating ROCD is to not go back and analyse what happened and why it happened. That just feeds the brain into “spinning its wheels” in place more. I have a couple more posts lined up where I will talk about this in detail. I have discussed a little bit about this in the “brain shovel” and “sleight of the hand” posts. You seemed to have made great progress in your journey. I hope you realise that! I also think that you are very close of having one breakthrough moment – “I feel better when I’m busy somewhat.” Have you ever really thought why? Our ROCD is “self-made”. You could have the most perfect partner in all aspects and still have ROCD…

      1. Thank you. I try not to go back and think of things but my mind is like a broken record. I found a thread of a guy who broke up with his girl several times because of his ROCD and got major anxiety afterwards and went back. When my BF was gone I felt that and my love for him and cried so many times. But now I feel as though I’d be gine if I left, but I thought the same months ago too. I noticed my thoughts changed again when I felt like he wasn’t paying much attention.

        what makes me uneasy is we haven’t said I love you to each other. We’re taking it slow. I been wanting to burst for weeks to say it and want him to say it. I feel as though he won’t say it I still obsess about that and get scenarios in my head that upset me and then i think when he does say it I will say it but it will be forced.

        Last night I kept thinking how I have this amazing man and no one else can have him. It made me think about what someone said to me that I only want him because I don’t want someone else to have him because that’s what I obsessed about with my OCD.

  2. Jess, I truly believe that you are not far from getting major relief from ROCD. Do not put yourself down because of the thoughts that come to your mind. Ignore them. Don’t talk much about them. Once you do the opposite, you are giving them importance and flagging them up in your brain as important… I got a couple of posts lined that will cover some techniques. Drop me a line if you would like to work on an action plan to move you forward. Pingfrance@hotmail.com

  3. Hi! I’m new with this coping the rOCD thing and sometimes I break down. I’d like it if any of the people here would like to be my friend. Its good to have a person who actually gets it what you’re going through and not treat you like a crazy person. I’d appreciate that. 🙂 My email id is cv.napping@gmail.com . Please drop me a mail.

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