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Why Logic Won’t Stop the ‘Weird’ Things I Do Because of My OCD

Last night, I “had to” purposely shine a flashlight directly into my eyes because of my obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Why, you ask? It’s not obvious? (Sarcasm.)

I was playing with a flashlight, taking spooky photos, as one does at 11 p.m. when there’s nothing else to do. My cat, being curious, looked into the light, and I didn’t stop her at first. A few minutes later, I realized that probably hadn’t been great for her eyes. Logically, the next step was to shine the flashlight into my eyes to check my cat would be OK/to punish myself. (Again, sarcasm on the logical part.)

So, now my eyes hurt, and I probably blinded my cat. And what even is this disorder? I’m also laughing. I mean, I’m stressed, but I’m laughing because what on Earth, OCD?

Also, to add to the “watertight logic” of this situation, I then kept petting and telling my cat how much I love her. Maybe if I say it enough times, she’ll be OK? That’s how that works, right? I kissed my cat so many times she got up and left. And that’s saying something because my cat is obsessed with getting attention.

This is what it’s like in my brain sometimes. OCD is wild.

Important clarification: I know this isn’t actually logical. Hence all the sarcasm. The same is true for others with OCD and their fears, though the amount of insight can vary from person to person and at different times in life. The bottom line, though, is logic does not work for OCD, at least not long-term.

For example, as a kid, I was very aware tapping a light switch would not prevent a fire. But that sure didn’t stop me from doing it for what amounted to hours, for years of my childhood. People with OCD will sometimes quite literally hurt themselves to potentially “reduce the risk” of something bad happening. That bad thing could be us getting hurt somehow, so we could literally be hurting ourselves to mentally prevent getting hurt in another way. And most of the time, we are aware of this. Like I said, logic doesn’t work with OCD. It just doesn’t. Trust me, I’ve tried for 20 years.

One time, several years ago on a roller coaster, I worried I had bumped my head on the restraint. So, to check if I had hit it hard enough to hurt myself, I repeatedly hit my head against the restraint for the rest of the ride. I had a headache for hours. Oh no. This post went from funny to sad. Quick. Save it, Morgan.

At the end of the day, OCD tends to attack what we care about most, and I care deeply about my cat. That makes sense. It’s also worth noting my brain gets stuck like this way less often than it used to thanks to treatment (exposure response prevention therapy and medication). But gosh darn it, if OCD doesn’t still like to try to keep me on my toes sometimes.

A version of this story was originally published on My OCD Voice.

Original photos by author