Our world is full of uncertainty and all of us encounter situations that we just can not control. Uncertainty is something that we need to accept and live together with even if it is not an easy thing to do. And if you’re suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, accepting the fact that you can not control every single aspect of your life can be even more challenging.
OCD is often called the “doubting disease” and for a good reason. Why? Because people with OCD are constantly haunted by the terrible feeling of doubt and in today’s post I’ll talk about this feeling and about what happens if you’re just unable to accept uncertainty.
The seeds of doubt are extremely dangerous to those who’re suffering from OCD: one single intrusive thought could mean the beginning of a terrifying obsession that can easily turn your life into a nightmare.
How does it start?
Let’s say you’re at the tube station, waiting for the train to arrive and suddenly an intrusive thought comes to your mind:
What if I throw myself under the train?
Okay, I know this may sound absolutely crazy but most of us have similar, intrusive thoughts – but those who do not suffer from OCD will not worry about these thoughts. But if you have OCD, then it’s a completely different story. You will not be able to get over such a scary idea and you will start thinking about it more and more. Because you just want to be a hundred percent sure that the disaster that you’re so afraid of will not happen.
But how can you be absolutely certain that you will not throw yourself under the train?
Again, sounds pretty insane, does it not? You just do not want to die, so you obviously would not want to act on your intrusive thought. If you do not have OCD, you’ll probably find this convincing enough. But again, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is not the most rational thing on earth so at this point, you’re likely to start a conversation with your inner voice – which is never a good idea:
So how do you know that you do not want to die? If you do not want to commit suicide, why do you keep thinking about it? There must be a reason behind all of this! What if you do not want to live anymore and you’re just not aware of your own emotions? You can never know, can you?
Then, you start seeking reassurance: Google, friends, books – whatever comes into your mind. And this is where a full blown obsession starts: your loved ones could tell you that you’re not the kind of person who’d ever do such a thing – and this may help temporarily – but you will not be able to stop: you will need to ask them at least a hundred times a day, just to be a hundred percent sure. And just in case, you may even start performing “rituals” – activities to prevent a disaster. Most probably, you know that your rituals are absolutely irrational and that your fears are nothing more than lies that your OCD is telling you, but it’s better to safe than sorry – because at the end of the day, you can never know, can you?
And this is how, slowly, you will be trapped in the labyrinth of your own mind, haunted by your own thoughts and it will be extremely difficult to find a way out.
Now, I have given a self-harm example, but OCD is an extremely creative disorder and the same thing happens when it comes to other obsessions:
– How do you know you’ve really locked the door? Let’s check once more, just in case, because you can never know, can you? What if you have not locked it and you do not even remember!
– What if you hit a pedestrian? Okay, you may not remember, but what if it happened? How can you be sure that it did not? Just drive back and look around once more. And do not forget to check the news!
– How do you know the kitchen table is clean enough? You do not want your loved ones to be sick because of dangerous bacteria! Better be safe than sorry! Clean it once more!
And it’s a never ending list. Life is full of uncertainties and the little OCD monster never sleeps: it sits on your shoulder and plants the seeds of doubt in your mind.
The way out
Watch out for “What if..” questions
A new obsession is just like a disease: the earlier you detect it, the better chances you have fighting against it. Does your inner voice ask you too many “what if..” questions? This can already be the sign of a new obsession.
If you want to think about it less, think about it more!
What? That just does not make sense.
I know it does not but it works. Trying to stop thinking about your obsessions will make you think about them even more.
Do not avoid “dangerous situations”
Avoiding driving because you’re afraid of running over a pedestrian may solve your issues on a short term, but OCD is a cruel monster: it will come up with another scary thought and you can not keep running away from your thoughts – so you can easily end up giving up way too many things in your life and at the end of the day, giving up all of the things you need and you love doing will never even help – on the contrary, it will make your OCD even worse.
Further reading that might help:
Set yourself free: how to break the vicious cycle
6 types of OCD
Pure O: Living in Endless Fear
OCD: a vicious cycle of doubt and guilt
Magical Thinking OCD
OCD: living a lie
12 things that will help you overcome OCD
Do not feed the monster: 5 things that keep your OCD alive
As you know, there’s one thing that I love more than writing about my experiences: reading yours. So, please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section!