This was originally published on The Mighty.
I am fortunate to have several friends who also have obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). We have similar thoughts, obsessions, behavior patterns, and struggles. We relate to one another at such a deep level we often refer to it as “having the same brain.” This can be incredibly validating — to have good friends who understand a difficult experience.
OCD does not care about logic. Intrusive thoughts and the resulting anxiety are the driving force. In comparison, logic is a whisper. With our own obsessions, we either can’t entirely see the logic, or more than likely, the logic doesn’t matter. Sure, I know I probably turned the stove off. Sure, I know that siren I just heard was heading in the opposite direction away from my apartment. Sure, I know running home to check will only reinforce the OCD. And at the same time, none of this matters. When the fear gets so loud, as it does with OCD, logic is a weak fighting tool.
But with my friends’ obsessions, I can easily see the logic there. It’s not my obsession, so I have no investment in the anxiety, resulting in great insight. Yet, when they are stuck in an OCD moment, I know from my own experiences with OCD that pointing out the logic won’t work. It will likely only increase their anxiety. The best way to help is to validate their fear and encourage them they can do the hard thing. That’s what I find helpful when I am stuck in a spiral.
Still, it can be difficult to not point out the logic, especially when it seems so clear to me. I sometimes become frustrated, even though I also have OCD. I imagine this is what it’s sometimes like for loved ones in my life, who don’t have OCD, when I am ruminating or wanting to do a compulsion. They can see the logic so clearly, so why can’t I use that logic to quiet my fear? But OCD does not care about logic, no matter how many times we try to apply it against the obsession.
All this to say, it’s important to remember logic is not a good weapon for fighting OCD, despite how simple and clear it may seem. Its counterintuitive logic wouldn’t apply. But I promise, usually people with OCD can see most or even all the logic. And the logic not working only makes OCD more frustrating for us too. So, be patient. Remember your frustration is valid, and so is ours. Remember OCD is the common enemy.