The surprisingly positive impact OCD can have on your life
- OCD affects about 1.2% of the population.
- People with the disorder have high levels of anxiety and obsessive thoughts.
- Stephen Smith, the founder of nOCD, says conquering OCD can teach people some valuable lessons.
- In fact, people who get treatment can live more successfully than they did prior to the condition on-setting, he said.
It can be easy to focus on the negatives of what makes us different. Introverts and extroverts scold themselves for being too little or too much, and people with ADHD are constantly told they are impatient and excitable.
People with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) face a different challenge, as it is a disabling mental illness. It affects about 1.2% of the population, and it causes people to have a "need for certainty" above all else, resulting in anxiety and obsessive thoughts or actions.
With relationship OCD (ROCD), for example, someone may obsess for ten or twelve hours a day, seven days a week, about whether or not their partner is the right person for them.
But this isn't to say OCD, when managed properly, can't be used to your advantage like other forms of neurodiversity. According to Stephen Smith, founder of the app nOCD, who struggled with OCD for many years himself, there are some elements of conquering OCD that can be very beneficial to the real world.
"To effectively conquer OCD, people with the condition must learn to 'accept the uncertainty behind their thoughts and live anyways,'" he told Business insider. "For instance, going back to the ROCD example, someone with that type of OCD must be willing to accept that their significant other may or may not be the right person for them. Accepting uncertainty is the key to conquering OCD."
Smith added that with treatment, people with OCD can successfully learn to accept this uncertainty, and not rely on their compulsions anymore.
"Then they'll not only be able to conquer the condition, but also deal with other curve balls in life that are thrown their way," he said. "As a result, it's not uncommon for people with OCD to live more successfully after treatment than they did prior to the condition on-setting."
Smith, for instance, found that his condition had a surprising benefit for his life as an entrepreneur. He set up nOCD while he was in college, and it now has amassed a community of more than 80,000 people who can talk to and help each other.
"Each day, growing nOCD forces me to solve unpredictable problems and take risks," he said. "So being trained to accept uncertainty helps me stay even keel and operate effectively."
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