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It’s Okay to Bully OCD

By: Shaina Charles

From a very young age, we are taught socially acceptable ways to interact and behave. Be nice to others. Sharing is caring. Listen when other people are speaking. If someone messes up, you should forgive them – that sort of thing. If you’re anything like me, these lessons were not suggestions; if you wanted to “human” with any success, these were the things you would need to do. Fast forward to your older self, and it makes sense. If we didn’t uphold these values that we learned from a young age, our day-to-day interactions would be rude, chaotic, and it would likely take us much longer to get things done and collaborate with others than necessary.

The idea of being “nice” is ingrained in everything we do. It’s an expectation, a way of life. So it is no wonder that when OCD steps into your life and starts moving things around to make room for itself, we let it. We allow OCD to take our things. We let OCD boss us around. And when OCD starts to talk, we listen because that’s what we’ve been taught to do. We’re nice to the OCD.

If you’re a longstanding member of the OCD North community, you probably know why this is such an issue. But, for any newcomers (hey, welcome!), here’s the rundown. When you listen to the OCD – such as avoiding the things OCD tells you to be fearful about or engaging in rituals – OCD gets comfortable and starts making bigger demands. OCD’s goal is to have all the control, and so when we listen to the OCD and do what it wants, it plants more and more fears and makes bigger and bigger ritual requests until your whole day – and maybe even the night, too – is consumed by what the OCD wants. All because we were nice to the OCD.

Being nice, sharing, and listening to others is typically a good move because others return the favour. They’re nice, sharing, and good listeners right back. Everybody is happy. But OCD doesn’t play by the rules. So guess what? Neither should we. We don’t need to be nice. We don’t need to share. We don’t need to listen when OCD is speaking, and we especially don’t have to share the things we love and care about. Essentially, what it comes down to is, it’s okay to bully OCD.

We’ve been taught for so long that bullying is not okay, that it can be hard to stand up to the OCD. We begin to feel guilty about our experiences. Or, we start to feel shame and make everything our fault. If you ever find yourself saying things like “this is my fault because…” or “I should do this” or “shouldn’t do that,” then you’ve fallen into this trap. And it’s okay to admit that you have because that’s the only way we realize that things need to change.

October 10-16 is OCD Awareness Week, and our theme is #TakeItBack. OCD sees that you’re a nice person who listens and shares, and it takes advantage of that. OCD takes the things you love and value away from you, little by little. But, that isn’t a cause to lose hope. You can take all those things back from OCD! And it starts with knowing that it’s okay to bully the OCD.

Here’s your challenge, OCD North community: find a small way to bully OCD every day. If OCD is making you feel ashamed about your experience, lean in! Tell the OCD that it’s okay for you to feel that way instead of dodging those feelings. If you’ve been listening to OCD when it tells you to avoid the things you love, put on your bullying pants! Tell the OCD that it can’t have the things you love. It can be scary to do, and it will certainly be a learning process with plenty of mistakes, but it’ll be worth it. It’s okay to bully OCD. In fact, it’s necessary.