One of the things that I hear most from those seeking help for their mental health is “I can’t afford treatment.” Effective and cost-friendly treatment has historically been difficult to find, and there is no question that mental health services need to be available and affordable to more people. However, there’s often more to the “cost” of therapy than meets the eye.
I believe that for many people with OCD, not getting treatment can be far more expensive than the cost of treatment itself with regard to everyday functioning, quality of life, and sometimes, even financial cost. When someone doesn’t get the right treatment for mental health, it can take a major toll on nearly every part of their life.
Serious mental health conditions like OCD can have more far-reaching effects, as well. Not only is one’s life affected, but the lives of their loved ones and others whom they may engage with can be negatively affected, too. Nobody lives in a bubble: someone’s experiences struggling with OCD can impact the lives of many others.
The costs that you may not realize
The true cost of years of ineffective treatment—or none at all—cannot be measured solely in a financial sense. For me, the true expense was to my health and my family. My relationships, my work, my potential, my health—all of these things were impacted in some form.
When I was at the darkest point in my OCD journey, I was not the daughter, sister, wife, mother, or friend that I wanted to be. I was not the best version of myself. Before I received effective treatment, I wasn’t able to do the things I wanted to do or live the life I wanted to live. My decisions were made based on OCD and not on my own goals. My functioning was impacted in ways that I can hardly start to describe.
The cost of me not receiving the correct treatment was weighing me down. It was not my fault—I had attempted many times to get treatment. Unfortunately, I went many years without health insurance, and I landed in local community agencies where not many providers were qualified to handle OCD. Even when I was actively in treatment that was affordable, it was often not helpful because it was not the right treatment for OCD. Through no fault of our own, we are often faced with seemingly impossible challenges.
Perhaps, had I not suffered from OCD, I wouldn’t have dropped out of high school three times before finally graduating. Perhaps I would have gone straight from high school to college and earned a degree in journalism as I had dreamed. I may have started a family later in life when I was healthier and more capable of being the mother and wife I wanted to be. I might have traveled, and found out more about who I was outside of OCD, outside of mental illness. Maybe I could have believed in myself and had the confidence to do the things I wanted.
Perhaps, for all those years, I would have lived rather than just survived. For me, the debt that OCD has left in its wake has been immeasurable.
I think of the impact that this disorder has had on my health. Years of not managing OCD effectively have led to stress-induced issues: I have had stomach problems since I was a child, high blood pressure throughout the years, and I am hypo-glycemic. My weight has gone up and down dramatically over the years. Chronic fatigue and exhaustion have been a part of my life since my 20s.
More recently, I had to have several biopsies of my mouth due to fears of oral cancer, even though I have none of the risk factors associated with it. I attribute this to using soap and chemicals over the years in my mouth due to intense fears surrounding contamination. I know that all of these things are related to my mental health struggles—OCD can cause so much harm outside of its most obvious symptoms.
Giving yourself compassion
OCD can cost more than you might imagine, but it is important to give yourself compassion; you have a very real mental condition. It is not your fault. How much has OCD or a BFRB cost you? How has getting inadequate treatment, or no treatment at all, impacted your life? How many years did a mental health condition control your life?
The good news is that there is hope. You don’t need to live in a constant state of fear or anxiety. You don’t have to constantly give in to OCD at the expense of your own needs, desires, and goals. Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) therapy, the gold standard treatment for OCD, can help you regain what OCD has taken from you. ERP may be difficult initially, but living with untreated OCD or a BFRB is difficult forever.
Choose what you will do with what you have been given. We cannot control that we have these mental conditions, but we do have the ability to choose what we do with what we have been given. There is help and you can live in recovery.
Effective OCD treatment is worth the cost
Please know that everyone has their own journey in life; living in recovery can mean so many things to people, and each person’s path may look a little different—and that’s okay. If you have OCD, then your journey may look similar to mine, but it may not. Whatever your path is, it is possible to reach a point where OCD is not in full control of your life. Effective treatment for OCD—ERP—can help you get there.
If you’re ready to start your own recovery journey, we can help. Our licensed therapists at NOCD deeply understand OCD and are specialty-trained in treating OCD with ERP. We work side-by-side with the OCD experts and researchers who designed some of the world’s top OCD treatment programs, and that means the best care for our members. You can book a free 15-minute call with our team to get matched with one and get started with OCD treatment.
If you are on your OCD recovery journey already, you can help by sharing your story with our community. Our stories have the power to help others, as many people still feel alone with this disorder. Many haven’t heard of anyone else who has gone through the same things. Knowing that others have gone through similar struggles can be eye-opening and even life-changing. For more information or to submit your story, please visit My OCD Journey. I would love to hear your story.