They Say: If It Makes You Happy It Is Not OCD

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This is the beginning of a set of articles (not sure if they’ll all be in a row) that are less dire and more… positive? I hesitate to use the term “happy,” but I will let you decide in the coming weeks.

I’ve written a lot about how my OCD is not quirky but is an ailment. A disorder. Something I battle with not unlike any other disease. I hold true to that, as I experience it every day. It traps me, it won’t leave my head.

However, I came across a phrase—really a meme—recently that I found interesting on many levels. I hate describing things as “interesting,” as that is such a throw-away word. What I really mean is I was conflicted when I saw this phrase. You can search for it on the internet and you’ll find images about it. It goes:

“If it makes you happy it is not OCD”

This is generally overlaid on top of an image of things, organized. Or put into nice and tidy sets. The things neat freaks do.

I’ll start on the one side of my conflicted observation relative to myself. My OCD is a problem. Having Pure-O, I often battle with obsessions which I have no outlet for. And these obsessions make me think and believe in eventualities that are dire, disgusting, and extremely frightening. Death, prison, people being hurt. I don’t have the compulsions that dictate if I do certain things (i.e. touching doorknobs) these things will be solved. Others have this, and it is hell. It is still hell for me, I just sit there obsessing over everything without a way out.

So I get the underlying concept behind the phrase/meme. OCD is not happy at its core.

However, I am conflicted when I really sit and think about it. And what my OCD really is. “What my OCD really is” happens to be a multi-faceted thing living inside my brain that I don’t fully understand. It certainly cannot be graded on the linear. It has so many components, that I’m up to about 120,000 words describing it and feel I have not fully put it all down1.

Oh, don’t get me wrong. It does bother me when people say “they’re so OCD” about things when they really mean they just like things tidy. My OCD is a disorder and is hell. It is not about being tidy.

Except. When it is.

And here is where I battle with the thoughts those who communicate a lot about OCD.

Parts of my OCD do make me happy. I do have compulsions of sorts. I obsessively wash dishes and cannot have them dirty for more than a night without feeling true depression. I have a system of 48 towels I have (hey, that I am going to write about soon here because we’re going there.)

Left to my own devices—and that there is the most critical part of this idea—when I act on my compulsions, rules, and processes… I actually do feel happy. It is therapeutic. I cannot deny this. Now the “my own devices” part is excluding how this may affect other people. And it does so negatively many times. Because I am a wholly irrational person with my compulsions.

I was asked why I have a towel protecting a table from getting dirty, but remove the towel so the towel itself does not get dirty when eating on the table. I do not know. It is rote. It is something that just came to me as a thing I needed to have. Guess what—I don’t know why, but it actually makes me happy. I wash it weekly. I care for it to an extent.

So if we’re going to look at the phrase “If it makes you happy it is not OCD” then I would not agree with this fully at all. Heck, I can even joke about my OCD. But don’t get me wrong—it is not because it is solved. It is not because it isn’t a constant irrational battle that takes up my mind’s space and overflows it with obsession. Oh, it does. But can I not joke about it? Well, I make the rules for me, and thus I can.

But leaving jokes aside, there are therapeutic things I do that would be considered actually part of my disorder. Maybe they shouldn’t make me feel happy, because they are adding fuel to my disorder.

Regardless of all of that, I am left to my own devices more often than not. And with that, I am going to tend toward that which makes me happy. Even if it is irrational. Even if it is, for a moment in time, OCD.


1 Which I guess is great for running a blog.  [BACK]