The National Institute of Mental Health claims that living with an obsessive compulsive mind can be debilitating in its most extreme forms. But in milder forms, you can actually make OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) work in your favor. My OCD is not so great that I cannot function. And once I understood it is part of who I am, I’ve found ways to focus all that obsession in creative, positive ways. You can exploit and embrace this personality trait just as I have and find liberation, freedom, and perhaps some power along the way.
HOW OCD WORKS FOR ME
Weight training: Once I decided I wanted to lower my BMI (body mass index), I took to it feverishly. I read everything I got my hands on, ran, weight trained and eventually I got results. It was grueling, but it was only in this way that I was able to reach my goal. This obsession got me eating healthier, gave me a sense of purpose, and I found I enjoyed being able to change my body if and how I wanted to.
Writing: Once I started writing about lifestyle, empowerment, food and beauty, it became my mission to find out everything about whatever subject I was writing about. Most topics I already had experience in, but not enough information to substantiate my opinions. Thanks to this obsessive search for information, I get to sit for hours on end doing research, lost in what I call “investigative bliss.”
Teaching: I have created countless grammar exercises after hours lost in developing content and methods for my Spanish or English classes. When I was 21, long before laptops, I would sit in bars, coffee shops, or wherever I found myself, pen in hand, writing out exercises for the many classes I taught. With little time for much else, this obsessive tunnel vision helped me gain new teaching opportunities and improved my performance in class.
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Social Media: Two years ago, I knew nothing about social media. So when a friend told me I needed to have a Twitter account and subscribe to other social media platforms, I went blank! Because I have ADHD and find instructions hard to grasp, I was intimidated by this fast-moving means of communication and promotion. By getting absolutely immersed and by reading and applying the “rules,” I learned new terminology and finally understood hashtags, SEO, retweets, and a host of other social media lingo in a very short time. I’ve had people help me along the way, of course, but my obsession to learn got me to where I am today: and involved person in the online world!
Cooking: Cooking didn’t come naturally to me because I have problems following instructions and that includes recipes. Once I decided I wanted to start cooking, I amassed a library of cookbooks and every night, for a couple of years, I read nothing but cookbooks. I can now follow a recipe and eyeball quantities (accurately!) while cooking which is amazing to me! This wouldn’t have happened without my obsessive tunnel vision driving me to learn and grow in this area.
Certainly, obsessive compulsive behavior to the extreme can be paralyzing and unhealthy. It can keep people from having relationships, social lives and keep them from pursuing their passions, interests and careers. But if you suffer, as I do, from a milder form of OCD, you can reap some unexpected benefits. If you’re an obsessive person and you set your mind on something, it’s like you’ve developed all the enthusiasm and singular focus of a person in a new romance. All your focus and energy goes to one place only. You have a focus and goal, and you’re only set free once it’s reached and attained.
There is a catch, though. You have to be wary that your obsessive interest doesn’t become your whole life. Once something starts to take away from my relationships and regular life activities, I move away from whatever it is for a while, in order to gain a healthy perspective. Then, I am able to go back to the activity but not allow it to take over my whole life.