I was browsing in a bookstore recently and came across a book for children with OCD. This particular book suggested that the child give his/her OCD a name. This is a concrete way to bring home the fact that OCD is separate from the child. It is something the child has, not something the child is.
When Dan was dealing with severe OCD and I knew next to nothing about the disorder, my friend Mark (an amazing clinical psychologist) explained OCD to me in much the same way. I couldn’t understand why Dan was able to eat one day, but the next day it might be impossible. Mark explained that Dan was battling very strong outside forces (OCD). Sometimes Dan could prevail, but often the OCD was just too powerful. OCD was separate from Dan.
I just finished reading Life In Rewind by Terry Weible Murphy, and a turning point for Ed Zine, who suffered from an incredibly severe case of OCD, came when Ed became so angry at his OCD that he just wasn’t going to take it anymore. Terry writes, “Being pissed off at OCD allowed Ed to recapture his determination and spirit.”
So not only does personifying OCD help you understand it better, it can also help you fight it.
Crazy stuff, yes? Actually, no. That’s one of the things that makes OCD so tough. People with OCD know that their behavior makes no sense; they just cannot stop it. They know they are acting irrationally, but they are not irrational people. In the words of Ed Zine:
“It [OCD] is ruthless in its attack. When it hits you, it will not stop. We know that we are acting crazy, but we also know that we are not crazy. And while the outside world tries to take care of us, and reassure us, OCD spits in their faces and tries to change, dictate, and control the ones who bring us love and reassurance.”
How tormenting that must be; to have this disorder, know it makes no sense, and still not be able to control it. OCD is a force to be reckoned with. It is The Enemy. But , like any enemy, it can be battled. And it can be defeated.