In honor of OCD Awareness Week (https://iocdf.org/) I wanted to share a few ideas since people often reach out wanting an answer to the following question:
Do I have OCD?
The concerns that manifest and disrupt the lives of individuals with OCD are not exclusive to them; these experiences and behaviors are common among people in general, but exist on a spectrum.
For example, if we consider some of the most common obsessive-compulsive themes, most people can relate with them to some extent:
a desire to feel clean or avoid getting sick
experiences of random or unintended thoughts
a sense of doubt about something in your life
a preference to have things a certain way in order to feel at ease
So if these are common things people care about, when does it become OCD?
Obsessive-compulsive disorder reflects how for some people, these concerns become a central and disruptive force in their life. The concerns create intense experiences and strong reactions. Attempts to manage them become problematic and impact their ability to live a healthy, functional, and enjoyable life.
This distinction is important, because it hints at some pathways to healing:
Obsessions emerge from natural human experiences
Treating these experiences as the enemy can fuel their negative impact
Efforts to control our experiences steal focus away from the rest of our life
If we focus on what is within our control, we are not powerless to change
While determining that you may be experiencing OCD is likely valuable in helping you identify appropriate support and treatment, be wary of your attachment to this label. After all, if you define yourself by it, how are you going to move past it?