As many of us know, doubt is the driving force behind obsessive-compulsive disorder. Compulsions are performed to make sure nothing terrible will happen. The problem, of course, is that certainty is unattainable, so when OCD asks the question “Are you 100% sure?” the answer is always “No.” With this answer comes the need for more compulsions and the vicious cycle of OCD begins.
If you have OCD, you know that this doubt can infiltrate all areas of your life. It makes you question your morals, your intentions, and even your relationships with those you love the most. It makes you question everything.
So it’s not really surprising that at some point along the way, many people with OCD will even question the validity of their diagnosis – the legitimacy of their disorder:
Do I really have OCD?
While this question might not seem like a big deal to those of us without OCD, I know it often becomes an obsession for people with the disorder. Someone’s thought process might go like this:
“Maybe I’m being deceitful. Maybe I’m pretending to have OCD so people won’t realize what a horrible person I really am. There’s a chance I really do want to harm someone, and I’m not just having those thoughts because I have OCD.”
“I bet I don’t even have OCD. It must be a misdiagnosis. I mean I don’t wash my hands compulsively or check the stove or feel the need to perform “typical” OCD compulsions. All my compulsions are in my head, so maybe it’s not even OCD. I’m fooling everybody and I’m nothing but a liar.”
These are just two examples of how this obsession might manifest itself. Compulsions also vary but might include researching OCD extensively to determine if you actually have the symptoms of the disorder, or seeking reassurance from others. You might question your therapist: “So I definitely have OCD, right?” or perhaps ask someone close to you if they think you really have the disorder. Unfortunately many well-meaning loved ones, and even some therapists, will not recognize these questions as compulsions, and will provide the reassurance the person so desperately craves. “Of course you have OCD.” With this reassurance comes a decrease in anxiety, but as we know, it is fleeting. The feelings of uncertainty return and you are back in the OCD loop.
So what’s the answer? How can people be certain they do have OCD so they can put this obsession to rest? Well, they can’t. What they need to do, what we all need to do, is learn to accept the uncertainty of life. If you’ve been diagnosed with OCD, then you should be getting proper treatment for the disorder, all the while accepting the fact that you will never be 100% sure that you have OCD. And really, it doesn’t matter. What matters is you are doing whatever you can to help yourself so that you can move forward and live the life you desire.