Normalize the OCD Experience with These 3 Statements
By: Shaina Charles
The words “shame” and “taboo” are definitely buzzwords here at OCD North, as we’ve been continuing our discussion on how shame can negatively impact the OCD experience. If you’ve been keeping up on the blog (which, excuse the brief intermission, but you should), then you are pretty familiar with the role that shame plays in OCD and how traditionally taboo topics can catalyze this. But, if you haven’t been keeping up (don’t worry, we won’t hold it against you), let’s catch you up to speed.
Reducing shame is a vital part of OCD recovery because when shame is present, individuals often lean into avoidance, isolation, and overall develop a negative self-view. AKA, the perfect circumstances for OCD to thrive. Taboo topics only make this experience worse, as individuals are faced with intrusive thoughts and complex feelings and emotions surrounding subjects that are societally disdained. The end result is an individual who feels unsafe to share and explore their experience, afraid to open up to even the most trusted individuals, and living in a world constantly made smaller by OCD.
In one of our recent posts here on the Overcoming OCD Blog, we discussed 5 ways to reduce shame for your kiddo (read that post here). The first point we highlighted was normalizing OCD. Normalizing OCD isn’t just important when it comes to kids! Everybody should get in the habit of normalizing OCD because when we do, we reduce the shame, secrecy, and misinformation that often comes with the diagnosis.
Now, normalizing OCD can seem like a daunting task. Trust us, we understand how nuanced OCD can be and how deeply it affects those who experience it. So, we’ve decided to help you out with three easy statements to normalize OCD for the person in your life who may be feeling some shame surrounding their experience.
- Say: “You are not alone in your experience.”
Letting your loved one know that they aren’t the only one experiencing intrusive thoughts or dealing with the strong urge to engage in compulsions (even when they don’t quite make sense) is a solid reminder that it’s okay to talk about what they are going through. Knowing that other people also go through similar experiences allows individuals to feel less isolated and more empowered. That’s a pretty good way to take power back from OCD!
- Say: “Would you like to share what that’s like for you?”
If your loved one opens up even a teeny-tiny bit about the OCD, hop on it! Showing that you are interested and want to hear about their experiences removes the veil of secrecy that often follows OCD around. No more secrets = no more shame, and that’s exactly what we’re aiming for.
- Say: “You can handle those worries and feelings of uncertainty.”
This statement is a great option to extend support and comfort to your loved one without offering reassurance and gratifying the OCD. Reminding a loved one of their ability to tolerate uncertainty emphasizes that uncertainty is real, normal, and a part of daily life. It also gives them a boost of courage as they set off on their journey to beat OCD for themselves. It’s us vs. OCD, and guess what? We’re gonna win!!!