OCD is different for everyone, it tailors itself to your own personal hopes and fears so that each individual is dealt thier own custom cocktail of anxiety. This can make it really difficult to communicate your exact thoughts and emotions to other people, especially to those who do not experience the disorder. However, there are characteristics of the disorder that are common amoungst all sufferers.

I have just watched this video by the well known vlogbrothers, talking about his own personal experience of OCD, and found a lot of what he said to be very relatable (particulary, googling symptoms – dear God, never do that. If you are worried, speak to a medical professional). However, there was one particular point he raised that really resonated with me: obsessive thoughts “come from outside of me and seem to hijack my conciousness”. This is a point I have tried and failed to articulate since the very beggining, its like having someone whisper in your ear, but its coming from inside your own head. From speaking to other people with the disorder, and reading multiple books and articles on the subject, this appears to be a common trait of OCD.

Its hard to describe what its like to be mentally hijacked, you could imagine it as being a puppet, with your hands tied to strings that force your movements, or as if someone else has climbed into your skin and is walking you around. For me, it was like another person has just appeared in my psyche alongside regular me, and was fighting for the controls. There was a real dual system going on between what I would consider to be myself, and this entity that was OCD, and this constant battle between both sides was exausting. I did not relate to or identify with the thoughts and suggestions that came from this intruder, but they were in my own head, so that meant it was coming from me, right?

Well, no. I have read about a lot of people who have suffered with the idea that these bad thoughts are thier own, and tht this makes them a bad, or even dangerous person, but that couldnt be farther from the truth. Strange, or “outside”, thoughts are a part of life, think of it as your brain on tickover. Ask anyone if they have ever had a thought about jumping off a high cliff while on a hike, or stabbing a knife into thier own hand whilst chopping onions.  Ask them if they ever had the thought to kick a child as it ran past, or set fire to the carpet while they were lighting candles. Chances are, they will say yes, but that does not make them bad people. Wierd thoughts go through everyone’s mind, but the vast majority of people do not identify with them, or even retain them for more than a few seconds. They wash over minds like a wave on the beach, and then dissapear. But in OCD people, they seem to stick around. They get trapped and they ferment and putrify in our heads until they are so revolting, that we become scared of ourelves.

A key step in overcoming OCD is to learn that these thoughts do not define us. Your mind is a sanctury free from judgement, morals, and critisism – you are free to think whatever you want. You will not identify with these thoughts if you do not want to. You will not act out these thoughts if you do not want to. It is not the thoughts that define you, its what you do with them. Strange, intrusive thoughts are a natural part of a healthy mind, don’t try and prevent them or push them out, that only makes it worse. Instead, allow them. Let them flow freely into your mind and then out again, and relax in the knowledge that they do not affect you at all. They do not define you, and you are not commanded by them.

TL;DR: Brains are wierd, but thats ok.


2 thoughts on “Outside of me

  1. Thank you for writing this! Needed the reminder that my intrusive thoughts are just brain vomit and nothing else.


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