A lot of what is written and said about OCD- from the medical community, others, and even myself- focuses on OCD as a disorder. As a negative. The last letter in the acronym “OCD” stands for “disorder.” And it is a disorder, and it is mostly negative in terms of how it affects daily life.
But not fully.
OCD is often positive for my mental health, and not in a way that merely sifts out the good from a bucket of bad. Rather, my mental state relies on ritual- and I don’t see them hurting myself or anyone around me by partaking in them.
Backing up for a bit, there are all of the obvious ways OCD can be positive. Thinking of every eventuality allows me to see risks others may not see. Being obsessed with organizing things clearly has benefits. When those with OCD are obsessed with cleanliness, things get… cleaned. And that is good. Now of course because of the obsessive component to these things, going overboard has some negatives. But that isn’t fully relevant here.
Ritual feels good and uplifts me. I don’t think I need to apologize to myself for these rituals until they cross the line into being debilitating. They often do, but not always. And thus, they just feel good and that works, and it can indeed end there.
I am obsessed with my shirt fitting a certain way (I obsess over shirts being too small, oftentimes that sensation is only in my mind.) I don’t spend a lot of money on shirts that I wear around the house, and thus when I wear a shirt that I know is oversized but feels good… I feel good. And it really ends there.
I am obsessed with lights being on and bright in the rooms I can see. I’ve learned to ignore darkened rooms that are outside of where I am currently working. The electricity used up by light bulbs nowadays is a fraction of what it used to be. It is worth it. I feel good. And it really ends there.
Here’s the thing: all humans partake in ritual to make themselves feel better mentally. These actions can make someone feel better merely in the moment, or for an extended period.
Take body language for example. Often even the least outwardly emotional people will find themselves instinctively giving themselves a self-hug, and even rocking themselves. All rituals that come from being a baby, and being human. But rituals nonetheless. And as long as this isn’t one’s poker tell- this is fine, and really ends there.
Anything can be a ritual, and as long as it hurts no one (including the person partaking) we shouldn’t read much more into all of it.
With my OCD, my rituals just seem stranger than those others partake in because they just feel odder. But not always because of ways the rituals may harm me. Sometimes just because they are louder and more pronounced in a way that they’re merely more noticeable.
Some of them aren’t even as noticeable. I am obsessed with seeing certain numbers. This often goes too far, but if I want to round a few pennies up on my tip to make the total for my lunch $11.11 exactly… it is odd relative to the culture I live within, but harmless.
Ritual feels good, and it often goes no further than that.
Just feeling good.
And me feeling good, as far as I’m concerned, is not a bad thing.