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Niall Horan Opens Up About His 'Mild' OCD

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In an interview with German magazine ZEIT LEO, former “One Direction” singer Niall Horan opened up about having “mild” obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

“I have mild obsessive compulsive disorder, that’s what doctors call it,” Horan said. “That is, I feel like I have to do things in a certain way. For example, if I have a burger with chips on my plate, I always have to eat the chips first and only pick up the burger at the very end.”

The “Slow Hands” singer said this feeling of having to do things in a certain way extends to his performances. “There are other tics in my life. Even when I go on stage, I only have one fixed sequence. I always have to sing in the same order, move and so on,” he said.

Though Horan referred to his behaviors as “tics,” the proper term about these OCD behaviors is “compulsions.” According to the International OCD Foundation, obsessions are characterized by unwanted intrusive thoughts, images or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings. Compulsions are the behaviors you do to try and decrease the distress caused by obsessions.

Having to do things in a certain way to feel “right” about it is something many people with OCD experience. This is something Mighty contributor Katie Kent wrote about in her piece, “What Others May Not Understand About My ‘Just Right OCD’

For some people struggling with OCD, their compulsions are not aimed at stopping something bad happening, but at doing things so they feel “just right.” This is sometimes referred to as, “just right OCD…” One of the first things that made a professional think I might have OCD was when I explained that if I’m going to get a yogurt out of the fridge, I’ll take one, but it will feel wrong and I’ll have to put it back and take another (identical) one until it “feels right.” I still do this, although I make myself eventually just take one and ignore the feelings.

Horan isn’t the first One Directioner to speak up about mental health. In November of last year, Harry Styles stopped a concert to help a fan struggling with a panic attack and Zayn Malik wrote about experiencing anxiety himself in his self-titled autobiography.

Horan shared that while his experience of mild OCD has been difficult, he’s learned to accept his behaviors.

“I live with them and they’re mine no matter what others think about it,” he said. “I’m just like — what the hell! Fortunately, I now have enough people around me who understand me.”

For more stories about OCD, check out these articles:

5 Types of OCD You Might Not Have Heard Of

What You Call Minuscule, I Call Critical: A Daily OCD Ritual

OCD Is Probably Not What You Think It Is

Originally published: April 23, 2018
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