What is a Compulsion?
I have found myself trying to explain this idea to my husband multiple times, but how do you really explain how it feels living with the intrusive thoughts and compulsions that come with OCD? This mental illness is so misunderstood by family, friends, and even some doctors. Although I struggled for a long time to come up with an answer, I think I have finally found the perfect comparison.
Throwback to the Early 2000’s
Have you ever seen the movie Ella Enchanted? If not, please find a way to watch it today! Until then, allow me to fill you in because I think it’s a perfect example of the nature of OCD. The movie first introduces us to a baby named Ella. A fairy godmother casts a spell on her, known as ‘the gift of obedience,’ which makes her do whatever she is told. The problem arises when some not-so-good people discover her secret and use it against her. I won’t spoil the end for you, but there’s a pretty good dance number involved!
OCD and Compulsions
So how does this explain OCD? No matter how bad Ella wants to resist this ‘compulsion,’ she simply can’t. It takes over and essentially forces her to do whatever act she is told to do. Steal that money, done. Say this, done. Say that, done. She knows that she shouldn’t do these things, nor does she want to. But the compulsion is there and she can’t fight it.
With OCD, a person feels a need to perform a compulsion, or act. In my case of contamination OCD, it is often hand-washing or cleaning. Whenever I feel contaminated, there is an urgent need to feel clean by performing my compulsions. I try to resist, but the need is so pressing that it can become painful. I know that deep down I can overcome the grip of OCD, but it often seems just as impossible as Ella fighting her magic spell.
Go Pop that Popcorn!
So if you’re looking for a really simple example of just how strong a compulsion can be, go check out Ella Enchanted. Like I said, I won’t spoil the movie for you. But I will say that it has a pretty happy ending; one that can also be achieved for someone struggling with OCD.