OCD is a very treatable condition. Many treatments for OCD involve both medication and therapy. You stated that you “simply refuse to live with the side effects” of medication but you are assuming that there will be side effects. Some medications have negative side effects but others do not. It depends on the individual. Everyone experiences medication differently. What works for one person may not work for another. Among medications that commonly have side effects, many negative effects are very minor and hardly noticeable. You shouldn’t rule out medication. It could greatly decrease your symptoms and bring you immediate relief.
OCD is an anxiety disorder. Without treatment, it tends to become progressively worse. You also have correctly observed that it’s a difficult illness to treat without professional help. I would agree and recommend that you consult a mental health professional. The mental health professional will evaluate your symptoms and determine the best course of treatment. Treatment may or may not involve medication. That’s a decision you ultimately will have to make.
Two non-medication based treatments for OCD are cognitive behavioral therapy and exposure and response prevention therapy. Cognitive behavioral therapy focuses on both your thoughts and your behavior.
Exposure and response prevention therapy is a treatment that places clients in direct contact with their fears. The purpose is to habituate the client to their fears and teach them to tolerate, rather than avoid, the anxiety that arises from their fears. It might seem like a counterintuitive form of treatment but studies show that it can be highly effective for treating certain anxiety disorders.
Delaying the acquisition of professional help may mean that your OCD will progress. It’s already “consumed your life.” It’s time to consult a mental health professional. It is what’s needed. I hope you will consider my recommendation. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle