In my opinion, this is one of the best articles I’ve come across to offer support for those with OCD. Why? It makes a simple, but very powerful point. It discusses doubt, and how OCD is, at its core, a disease of doubt; the specific doubt in question varies from person to person, of course.
From the article:
“Coexistence [with doubt] is possible, and it’s probably happening right now. You just haven’t realized it.
When we drive to the grocery store, are we guaranteed that we will arrive? Of course not. And yet many of us undertake that risk without even thinking about it. Chances are, if you really think about it, you can identify many examples in which you set aside your doubt and take risks.“
Why is this so powerful? I can’t speak for everyone, but this is one of the few kinds of therapy that actually works for me. I need to know that someone believes in me. If I tell you I’m worried about something, and all you do is tell me how silly that seems to you, that does not help me. In fact, it makes my doubt worse. Instead, try actually acknowledging my fear and doubt by saying something like: “Hey, you know what? I see what you’re saying. But there are lots of other things you could worry about, that you’re not right now. Maybe you should try dealing with this in the same way.” It’s surprising how much of a difference that mere acknowledgement and acceptance makes. By saying something to this effect, what you’re doing for the person with OCD is letting them know you believe in their ability to accept and live with doubt, just like everyone else. You’re not telling them you think they worry too much, that they’re high-strung, crazy, or anything else insulting. Instead, you’re looking at their situation objectively and observing: “Although they do seem really stressed about this one insignificant thing, I also see that they dismiss lots of other insignificant things they could be worrying about, so I’m going to remind them they have that ability.”
It’s easy to look at a person with OCD and think “They should just stop worrying” or “They’re being silly.” It takes a truly open-minded person to see: “This person is disproportionately worried about this one thing, but I know they have the ability to live with doubt in general because I can think of examples of other doubts that they are probably dismissing.”
If we truly took the time to examine every doubt we have, we’d never have time to do anything else. Deep down, if you remind us of that… we probably know.
People with OCD are not crazy. We’re not delusional, and most of the time, we’re pretty rational people; we simply give in to doubt. What we need is understanding and acceptance. If simply saying “Don’t worry” were good enough, there wouldn’t be such a thing as OCD.
And yes, I had to title this post after my childhood favorite band.