I was leaving my house today to go on my morning walk and noticed that the front gate was open. As I passed through the gate, I had a thought that if I closed it, I would not return safely to my home. If I left the gate open, I would return safely. Prior to taking an important exam, it occurred to me that if I left the test registration in the car and folded it a certain way, it would mean that I would pass the test I was about to take.
Do I Have OCD?
I’ve had intrusive thoughts, images, and impulses of being catapulted down a flight of stairs and stabbing myself in the eye when cutting up vegetables. I’ve had disturbing thoughts about dropping my newborn niece in a big pot of boiling water and dropping babies to the ground as I held them. When juicing fruit and vegetables, I had an image of my parakeet flying into the machine and coming out as juice.
Something else you should know is that I do not have OCD. While these thoughts were out of the ordinary and unsolicited, they did not bother me. While everybody has bizarre, unwanted thoughts, people with OCD attribute meaning to these thoughts and the anxiety related to them. They frequently feel the need to investigate or make sense of these intrusive thoughts, and may desperately try to prove to themselves that these thoughts are not premonitions of events to come or of a subconscious desire. People with OCD often need to know with 100% certainty that these events will not occur and that they are not a bad person for thinking them.
How to Respond to OCD Thoughts
If you have OCD, you too can take the meaning away from your bizarre, unwanted thoughts, the same way as people who do not have OCD. Using simple techniques of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and mindfulness, you can learn to respond differently to these unwanted thoughts. Whenever you get an intrusive thought, even if it gives you anxiety, do not judge it or try to make sense of it. Remind yourself that everybody gets bizarre thoughts, that they do not mean anything, and that they are an expected part of having OCD. You are the one who decides if your thoughts are problematic. Your reaction is the problem, not the thought itself. After all, OCD thoughts can be viewed as funny, interesting, creative, and quirky. Embrace and welcome your OCD thoughts and they will lose power over you.
•The OCD Center of Los Angeles is a private, outpatient clinic specializing in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for the treatment of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and related anxiety based conditions. In addition to individual therapy, the center offers six weekly therapy groups, as well as online therapy, telephone therapy, and intensive outpatient treatment. To contact the OCD Center of Los Angeles, click here.