OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) is no laughing matter. It is a devastating mental disorder that can easily turn one’s life into a living hell. But that does not mean we cannot use a little bit of humor to cope with this terrifying disorder. While OCD itself is far from being funny, the situations that can arise from dealing with it can often be hilarious.
Do not get me wrong – I am not telling you that from now on, you should just laugh at all your intrusive thoughts or at your compulsions, because we all know that it would not be possible. But looking at a scary situation from a humorous perspective helps reduce anxiety.
I think OCD and the boggart from the Harry Potter series have a lot in common. Both of them are scary monsters that have a lot of different faces. The boggart always takes on the form of it’s observer’s biggest fear. Ron Weasley’s boggart was a spider and to Neville Longbottom, this monster would appear in the form of Severus Snape.
So, am I the only one who thinks that it is a little bit like OCD? I mean, some are afraid of contamination, while others are worried about causing harm to their loved ones. But all of us have one thing in common: we are all haunted by a boggart called OCD.
And as those who have read the Harry Potter books (or watched the movies) probably know, that the best way to fight the boggart is laughing at it. But could laughing help us with OCD too?
I really think it could. Laughing at myself has been one of the best ways for me to deal with my mental illnesses for the last few years. Obviously, it is not something that I can always do. It is pretty hard to tell in which exact situations it works and in which cases it does not work. But…let me try to explain you the way I feel and I hope it will help some of you.
Drunk or Sober?
Now, I am not sure if any of you has ever had the same impression but I think that living with OCD can often feel like being either constantly drunk. There are moments when you are just completely wasted. Moments, when your intrusive thoughts are stronger than you are – when you cannot stop thinking about things that may be completely irrational (and you may even know that they are irrational). When you know that you do not want to jump off that cliff but you’re just unable to get rid of your disturbing thoughts. Or when you just cannot stop checking if you locked the door even though, you kind of remember you did. It really feels like being drunk. But it’s a different kind of drunkenness. You are intoxicated by your own thoughts (instead of a nice bottle of Chardonnay..that would obviously feel much nicer).
And you really want to get sober. But there’s always that terrifying “what if” in the back of your mind. What if your thoughts are real? What if you actually want to die or you actually want to harm someone you love? You know that you do not want to act on all your crazy thoughts but this terrible what if will not let you escape them.
When you are in this “drunk” stage (sorry, I think I will keep calling it like that), it is next to impossible for you to think rationally. And I think these are the moments when laughing at yourself is not an option. In such situations, all the irrational OCD thoughts can seem so real. Sometimes I am afraid of forgetting how to speak – and let’s admit, this thought is pretty unrealistic and hilarious – but when my OCD gets bad, I will not be able to explain myself that this idea is a complete nonsense, instead of that I will just immediately have to talk to someone to prove that I can still remember how to speak.
But then, there are the moments when you are kind of…sober. It does not mean that your OCD is gone but there are periods when you just feel better. And when you look back at the things you have done or have thought about, you are like ” OMG, I was out of my mind”. It is not like having a blackout or something because you can perfectly remember every single thing your OCD forced you to do and every single thought you were so worried about. But when you’re “sober”, all of them just seem to be..so unreal and ridiculous. And these are the perfect moments for having a good laugh about yourself.
I guess most of us have a few OCD stories. And some of these stories can be pretty funny. Like, once I was terribly afraid of shouting obscene words while travelling on the train. Obviously, it was a shocking, scary experience to me at that time and if someone started laughing at me, I think I would have possibly slapped the person (okay, maybe not literary but you get the point: I would not have liked it…). But when I “got sober” and replayed the whole scene in my head I realized how crazy it was. And I started laughing at it. Like just imagine this whole situation, is it not crazy that a guy is afraid of shouting weird stuff while he does not actually want to do that. And even though he knows he does not want to do it, he is still afraid that he might do it?
Another story from a years back. I used to be afraid of going shopping because I was like “what if I steal something”. I obviously did not want to but you know how it is. What if you see something nice, lose control and…uh la la ..it happens? I was afraid of the temptation. You can never know when you get hypnotized by a beautiful pair of Armani shoes and you just want to grab them..and run away with them. So, I decided not to take any risks and not to go to any fancy stores. At that time, it was obviously a terrible feeling to me because of all the stress and anxiety. But again, looking back at it is pretty hilarious.
Or there is my friend who used to be afraid of giving her credit card to a random stranger and telling them the PIN code. She obviously did not want to do it but she was terribly afraid of losing control and actually acting on her intrusive thoughts. And she couldn’t laugh at these thoughts when she was having that terrible anxiety that OCD can give you. But when she managed to calm herself down, she would always make fun of the situation.
Obviously, it is not a nice thing to laugh at other people’s OCD stories without their “permission” Like…it kind of depends on the situation. In the moments when OCD is taking over me, I would feel terribly offended if someone was laughing at the way I felt. But when I feel better, I will often tell my friends about my weird OCD stories and honestly, I do not mind if they have a good laugh about it because sometimes, me too I find them pretty funny.
And it does not only help me cope with this horrible disorder but it is also a good way of raising awareness. A lot of people still think that OCD is a kind of cleaning disorder but it is so much more surprising and creative than that. If OCD was an actual person, I think it (or he or she….) would possibly win an award for being so creative and resourceful as it can always come up with ideas you’d have never thought about.
And while it’s often difficult to laugh at it, I think we should really try to make as much fun of it as we are possibly able to. Life is short and it’s hard to escape the OCD monster so the least we can do is try to enjoy ourselves as much as we can.
Finally, as the Joker said.