Tuesday, July 17 , 2018, 12:15 pm | Partly Cloudy 69º


Jonathan Lukas: Stepping Into the Anxiety and Facing Your Fears

Take a chance and discover the strength that has always been within you

I recently had an opportunity to appear on live television for an interview to discuss The OCD Treatment Center of Santa Barbara as well as my own experiences battling obsessive-compulsive disorder.

When the host of the show first approached me about the idea, I remember feeling that old anxiety spike, and my instinct was to say, “That sounds great. Let me think about it.” Instead I told him, “That sounds great. When would you like me to appear?” The old Jon would have avoided a situation that brought anxiety, uncertainty, doubt and lack of confidence. The new Jon said, “Go for it!”

The more I work to instill in my clients that they can always make a choice whether to run with the “OCD Monster” or take a chance and stay with the anxiety rather than engage in rituals, the more it reminds me to take every opportunity that comes along. No matter how OCD tries to peek its ugly head back into my life, I know I have a weapon that is stronger. My weapon against OCD is anxiety itself, and it propels me to take chances that I never would have had when I was in the middle of my battle with OCD.

We all face anxiety in life, but we always have a choice in how we interpret that anxiety and which direction to go with it. Some will avoid a situation. Some will take the anxious thoughts at face value and retreat because it just feels too dangerous. Others will use anxiety and the adrenaline rush that goes along with it to reach for their dreams and never back down. There is truly something powerful that occurs when you use that anxiety and face your fears. You actually find within yourself a strength that has always been there.

I decided to put myself out there and take a chance for a number of reasons.

First of all, I sincerely believe that it is important to let those suffering from OCD and anxiety disorders and their families know that they are not alone. I wanted to share with as many people as possible the destructive nature of OCD and the importance of getting treatment for a disorder that is very treatable. I also wanted to show myself and my clients that I will never run from my fears in the hope that they, too, can step up to any adversity in their lives with courage and a belief in themselves.

Believe me when I say I was nervous when there was one minute before the show went live. My throat was tight, my hands were cold and I wondered if I might just freeze. Then I took two deep breaths and told myself to just go for it. It was like jumping into a cold pool. At first it will feel uncomfortable, then my body will adjust to the temperature until it no longer feels cold. And what a rush it was to discuss OCD as someone who has lived with this brain disorder and now treats others.

I embrace anxiety these days because I know I will get through it and that it can never really hurt me. I didn’t believe that when I was 15 years old or even 25. For those of you battling the emotionally painful and debilitating obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders, with hard work you, too, can walk through the anxiety instead of running from it. And you will experience something pretty special. Your confidence will grow, your anxiety will subside and a whole new world will open up to you.

Having OCD doesn’t mean you are broken. Having OCD means you have an opportunity to show yourself how strong you really are.

So take a chance and make a new choice to get busy living again!

Jonathan Lukas MFT is a psychotherapist specializing in cognitive behavioral therapy. He is in private practice and runs The OCD Treatment Center of Santa Barbara, working with adolescents and adults with anxiety disorders. Click here for more information or call 805.453.2347.

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