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What Happened When I Let Things Be 'Wrong' Despite My OCD

Editor's Note

If you struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. To find help, visit the International OCD Foundation’s website.

It was the freest I’ve felt in years, almost a high — dopamine, endorphins, who knows. I try not to overthink these often fleeting feelings of, well, good. I spent the previous night in an obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) episode. Nothing was “right,” and I felt others were to blame. I have a very specific way I want my surroundings to function. Everything being “right” allows me to continue to move through my perfectionism. I had visitors at my house — which I try to avoid. While I would never tell them, they feel unclean. Oh, not in the superficial sense, but in the wholly irrational sense OCD forces me to build categories of. They are unclean in terms of how they eat, how they touch things, how they put me on the spot, how they make me show displeasure.

The specific details of what I had perfected and how they messed with things are not important, because this is my OCD we’re talking about, and no one else is going to think that which I consider “right” and how such was “wronged” is rational at all. 

The next morning I was still rather angry. Something needed to be said. Rules needed to be laid down. But I did nothing. Intentionally. This was me putting up a front to my core self. I just did nothing even though I had all of the social energy to demand things be done “right” in the future, complete with a litany on how things are to be done “right.”

I had that energy, but I did not use it. I didn’t know at all how this would make me feel — in fact, I could sense a fear of feeling defeated and moving toward a slight depression because I let people walk over me. 

I let things be “wrong,” and I did nothing about it. As an experiment, all in my head. And I was uplifted. I felt empowered more so from doing nothing than from asserting that which my OCD was demanding I assert. I am finding that, while impossible to do all the time, letting things be what my OCD considers “wrong” in certain circumstances is uplifting.

For starters,

 

it helps that performing this exercise involves no social strife. I can do this all in my head. Of course, I create a bit of cognitive dissonance, but sometimes I find I can just push beyond that. And that is the key here: we’re pushing beyond cognitive dissonance. We’re using energy internally and as an experiment: the success from which is some feeling of freedom and good. Even if just a little.

That is the key here: just feeling a little better. Even if fleeting. Feeling better about letting things be “wrong” is something that can grow over time. Little steps at first, little rewards at first.

This mechanism is not a solution for all of OCD. This is not at all something that can easily be applied holistically. One should not expect that. OCD is still the ruler here and irrational thoughts are still much stronger than the energy mustered in this experiment. However, OCD does not have to be tackled holistically. We all know there is no step-by-step solution for OCD. But there are steps to make us feel more empowered. 

What we do with those slight feelings of empowerment are for the future. For now, we try to let things be “wrong” now and then. Not all the time. And this process has no rules or procedures to be followed to the letter. With OCD, we all have a scale of how intense our episodes are. And with that, we can sometimes assess things better the next day. And I think we all know of certain OCD episodes that can be stopped after a certain point and just let be. Those rare episodes are perfect for this experiment.

Now, after applying such thought to a specific OCD episode, and feeling whatever bit of positivity one can take, chances are we’ll move on to another OCD episode. These things work 24/7. And that is OK! I would not even go as far as saying the next OCD episode needs to be — or should be — handled in this same manner. That may be impossible.

However, now and then, when it feels right: let things be wrong.

Getty image by aetb