I have never thought about viewing my OCD as separate from myself. It is something that I have always referred to as ‘my’ both when explaining it in person and through my blog. I have always seen it as a part of me, something that has grown within my mind from my own doing. I have noticed this especially when I am in my CBT sessions and I explain some of the things I am thinking or the rationale behind some of my rituals. Every time I explain this to my therapist I always say “It sounds so silly because I know it’s just me, I know it’s just my thoughts”.
Now, this belief can be beneficial when it comes to challenging these thoughts. If something pops into my head that I find particularly threatening and terrifying, I can sometimes challenge this with “it’s just a thought” to help remind myself that just because you think about something does not directly lead to it happening. Oh, if only it was as easy as writing that sentence! However, in doing so I feel like I am putting extra pressure on myself to ignore it. I think this has become most obvious to me since I started CBT where the whole purpose of this form of therapy is to challenge your thoughts and face the fear head on.
The not-so-good side of viewing OCD as a part of myself is the sense of failure that comes with it. For instance, sometimes I can get a thought that is just too scary and difficult to ignore. In order to get rid of this paralysing fear, I have to perform a ritual to lower the level of anxiety because I just can’t sit with it. Don’t get me wrong, there are times I can push past these thoughts and I think CBT has a lot to thank for that but when I do end up giving into a thought, I feel like I have failed. I have failed to stand up to myself and my own thoughts. It’s like a vicious circle: I bully myself to carry out rituals and then I bully myself for carrying out the rituals. I just can’t win!
When I read Bryony Gordon’s ‘Mad Girl’ which I reviewed here, it was the first time I thought about labelling my OCD as an external bully. Bryony Gordon amazingly refers to her OCD as ‘Gareth the Goblin King’ from David Bowie’s film ‘Labyrinth’. As soon as I read this, it was like a lightbulb moment. By referring to her mental health illness as this character, not only has she made it seem less threatening but she’s also helped reinforce to herself that OCD is not her own doing.
But the thing is, I quite like David Bowie and I especially love him in Labyrinth. I didn’t really want to call my OCD after someone like him, a human being I respect as a character in a film that I grew up watching. I instead decided that I wanted to call my OCD after a human being I do not respect, someone who is both rude and intolerable not to mention insensitive. With an annoying voice. During my last CBT session, it was decided that the person that fit the bill was…dramatic pause…
By calling my OCD after someone like Piers Morgan, I can stop blaming myself and blame him instead. I can picture my OCD thoughts coming, not from my own mind, but from Piers Morgan’s mouth instead and his annoying, relentless voice is something I want to tell to shut up. It can also make the thoughts so much less threatening when picturing Piers Morgan as the messenger. It can help me to find the humour in this illness that I live with every day which is so important to keep hold of.
It’s going to take some time to get used to viewing my OCD as a separate entity. It’s going to be even stranger to start telling Piers Morgan to get lost (note to self, not in public). But hopefully, this is just another step forward in my recovery.