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The Unexpected Hobby That Helps Distract Me From My OCD Intrusive Thoughts

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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.

For as long as I can remember, I have lived with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) – however, it was not until this past January that I was diagnosed and came to realize that my behaviors were linked to this disorder. OCD is one of the more highly stigmatized disorders in our society, and it is because of the beliefs I had surrounding OCD that I didn’t think that my behaviors qualified for a diagnosis. That was until my psychiatrist explained to me what OCD really is.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder is not being “excessively clean or neat.” OCD involves unwanted thoughts and/or images that the person experiences and, in turn, develops compulsive behaviors to somehow distract from the thoughts or images (otherwise known as obsessions). For example, my compulsive behaviors relate to numbers. For as long as I can remember I have had scary, unwanted thoughts that often occur about the people around me, and my mind turned to numbers to try and find relief. I count syllables in words that people are saying so much so that I don’t comprehend what they are trying to say, and I obsessively count notes in music and words I hear on the radio or the television. I require the television to be on at all times as silence deeply impacts my scary thoughts, and I spend most of every minute or every day counting in some way or another.

I never knew that my behavior was considered “disordered” or out of the ordinary. It wasn’t until I was in treatment for bulimia nervosa that I received a subsequent OCD diagnosis and realized that my bulimic behaviors were connected to my intrusive thoughts as well. It took me a long time to grasp my new diagnosis and identify my compulsive behaviors as problematic, but with medication, therapy, and the help of some new crafts, I have learned to manage my disorder and manage my intrusive thoughts.

A banner promoting The Mighty's new OCD 30+ group on The Mighty mobile app. The banner reads, Are you an adult who's living with obsessive-compulsive disorder? The OCD 30+ group is for you. Get support and share information with Mighties who get it. Click to join.

That being said, out of medication, therapy and crafts, crochet has been the single most helpful hobby I have picked up on that has helped my OCD. It allows me to count in the form of stitches and manage my intrusive thoughts in a beautiful way. Crochet also helps me to feel productive as I can make things for loved ones and manage my OCD at the same time. Crochet has saved my life, and I am so thankful for how it has helped me to manage my intrusive thoughts, compulsive number counting and bulimic behaviors as well.

Creating beautiful projects keeps my hands busy and helps to distract me from my thoughts. I love fashion and making crocheted clothing is one of my biggest passions now. I love being able to create something that will make someone else feel beautiful and comfortable, and this helps me to find solace in my disorder because of its role in my crochet. Instead of feeling ashamed or as though I am “not right,” I am thankful for my crafting abilities and how my disorder has played a part in a hobby that I find so beautiful in my life.

If you or a loved one are struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder, I highly recommend trying out a craft such as crochet, cross-stitch, coloring, etc. All of these forms of arts and crafts have helped me tremendously in managing my disorder in a beautiful way, while helping me to live a fuller life. Let me know what helps you manage your OCD!

Getty Images photo via MangoStar_Studio

Originally published: December 2, 2020
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