The issue of OCD medication came up during my fourth session of therapy. It’s one of the big Catch-22’s of having health anxiety OCD. You want to get yourself better, but reading the side effect inserts of prescription medications launches your mind into overdrive with worry.
Flomax for Kidney Stones
In my years of hypochondria, between my gallbladder incident in 2005 and deciding to seek therapy in the Summer of 2016 after the eye floater incident, I did have some legitimate health problems a few times. The biggest issue was a kidney stone in 2013. Luckily the stone was small enough to pass on its own, so I didn’t require any surgical interventions. It did take 8 days of hell to pass though.
One of the medications doctors had prescribed to me for the kidney stone was called Flomax. They explained that it would loosen the muscles of my ureter, making the stone easier to pass. I read the side effects of Flomax and pretty much freaked out. I wasn’t freaked out by the side effects of my pain medications mostly because I had taken those same pain medications previously in my pre-hypochondria life, like when I had my wisdom teeth pulled in high school, and after my gallbladder removal surgery. And, I knew I didn’t suffer any negative side effects, so I was fine with taking the Oxycodone, but not the Flomax.
I kept staring at the bottle of Flomax, knowing that I should take one of the pills.
I’d say to myself, “The doctor wouldn’t have prescribed it if he thought it was dangerous for you. Just take the damn pill. Do you want to live with this kidney stone pain any longer than you have to?”
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Then I considered another option.
“Okay, maybe I’ll drive to the local ER and take one of the pills while sitting in the parking lot. That way, if I have a bad reaction, I can just run into the ER from the car. How long do you think I’d have to sit there before I was sure I wasn’t having a negative reaction. 30 minutes? 45 minutes?”
I considered this as if it was a very reasonable option. Then I rejected the idea, telling myself once again that I was being insane.
My compromise was to announce to my husband that I was taking one of the Flomax pills. That if I had some sort of negative reaction, to not hesitate to call 911. I told him that I was putting the pill bottle in my pants pocket so that the EMTs would have easy access to it when transporting me to the hospital. We then watched a TV show together so I’d be next to somebody and able to easily communicate if I started experiencing any distress.
Needless to say, I barely paid attention to the TV show that we watched. I was paying too much attention to any potential “side effects.”
Within about an hour, I started to breathe a little easier. I mentally added Flomax to my “safe meds” list and continued to take it until my kidney stone passed.
Afraid to Take Medications for OCD
Needless to say, no, I did not want to try medication to ease my OCD symptoms. I told my therapist about my fear of the side effects of the medications, which seemed quite dramatic. Dr. Lindo explained that I would still have to continue with the OCD workbook exercises and worksheets that she had provided. But that many times the medication helps ease some of the OCD thoughts, which makes the mental exercises easier to take effect in our brain. I considered it again, but still said no.
I thought she might push for the medication, not only to help with the OCD, but as a type of exposure therapy, in which I forced myself into situations that would generally be uncomfortable to me (like taking new medications). But, she was understanding. I told her that I wanted to give non-medicated therapy for a solid few months. If I wasn’t making any progress, then I’d reconsider the medication.
As it turns out, I never did have to take medication, which was a huge relief. Who knows, maybe things would’ve come easier or faster if I had made the decision to take medication, but I figured it might cause me more anxiety.