OCD – A Creative Disorder

Is there a link between OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) and creativity?

This is a question I have been wondering about for a long time but I haven’t been able to find a definite answer to it yet. I have always considered myself as a creative person but is my creativity a sign of OCD? Or is it just a factor that makes my OCD worse by helping me invent a crazy amount of new obsessions and compulsions?

Well, I do not know. And I am not sure if I will be able to answer any of these questions in today’s post but what I can do is sharing a hilarious story to show you just how creative OCD can be.

A Day At The Museum

So, talking about creativity. I have always been in love with art (especially painting) and visiting art galleries has always made me feel better. Looking at beautiful works of art really helps me escape reality and masterpieces are not the only thing I love about galleries but I also love their atmosphere, the way they smell…and the peaceful environment. So.. literally everything.

And that’s why my friend and me decided to spend our Saturday afternoon at the Museum of Fine Arts (Budapest). Could you possibly imagine a better plan for a rainy day? Personally, I cannot.

Szépművészeti Múzeum
Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest – Source: https://www.szepmuveszeti.hu/

So there we were. Strolling around the Museum of Fine Arts, absorbing the art and completely forgetting about a friend we had not invited to our little museum tour. And as you might have already guessed, this friend of ours is called OCD. I always think of OCD as if it was an actual person – I know it sounds pretty weird but believe me, personifying your OCD can help you keep it under control. And well…my OCD is a guy and he is like an annoying ex-boyfriend you can never get rid of no matter how hard you try. Like….nobody wanted to have him at the museum but he still decided to come over. Seriously, how annoying is that?

Further reading: The Face Of The Devil – Personifying Your OCD

Anyways, back to the story! We were looking at some Egyptian clay pots when my OCD decided to join us and he would ask me:

What if you pass out and break something while falling to the ground? Like…these Egyptian clay pots look pretty fragile and they are extremely valuable! So it would be a shame if you accidentally broke one of them.

Now, what is the best thing you can do when your OCD starts bugging you with its stupid questions? Try not to answer them and try to focus on something else. And well, I would normally be able to do this but this time it was a little bit more difficult due to a very simple fact: since the beginning of the pandemic, wearing a face mask has become mandatory in Hungarian museums.

I think I am pretty good when it comes to coping with my fear of fainting – well, over the years I have had enough time to learn how to keep it under control – but wearing a face mask for hours is a pretty new thing to me. So, I was trying to tell myself that I wasn’t going to faint but I guess at this point you can already imagine what my OCD told me:

What if your brain does not get enough oxygen? That could easily make you pass out!

Hm….well that’s a good question. And who knows? That might actually happen so I decided to play it safe and I got one of those portable museum chairs to make sure that I have something to lean on if the inevitable happens.

Was it a good idea? Hard to answer but it definitely helped me forget about my sudden fear of fainting. Like...carrying the chair around made me feel safe and I know that reassurance seeking isn’t an appropriate way to cope with your OCD but I really needed a “quick fix” ’cause I obviously did not want my crazy thoughts ruin my entire afternoon.

But then, there was something about that chair. It did not only bring a sense of calm but also exciting new “OCD opportunities”. I told you OCD was creative, did I not? So while I was enjoying the beauty of renaissance paintings it managed to come up with a new idea:

What if I throw the chair at one of the paintings?

Now, I know that sounds absolutely crazy. And I will not get offended if you laugh at it because to be honest, I too think it is pretty funny. Imagine a guy walking through a museum, totally scared of throwing a chair at a Raphael painting.

And the story isn’t over yet. I was trying not to think about the disastrous consequences of throwing a chair at a renaissance masterpiece but unfortunately, ruining a Raphael painting was not the only horrifying thing I could do with the infamous chair. Because…

What if I attack someone with the chair?

Don’t get me wrong, I am not a violent person. I do not think I would ever be able to harm anyone but my OCD does not always agree with me on that. ‘Cause there’s always that “what if” – like… when you know your thoughts are bats***t insane but it doesn’t mean you’re able to stop having them.

Further Reading: Am I A Monster? – The Story Of My Harm OCD

So… few hours at the museum and I have already destroyed a few Egyptian pieces of art by falling on them while fainting, smashed a couple of paintings with a portable chair and attacked innocent museum workers.(of course, only in my mind) Now, what’s next?

As you can see there are a lot of things that could possibly go wrong while visiting a museum but there’s one that my OCD almost forgot about. I said “almost” … ’cause OCD would obviously never miss the chance to ask you:

What if I grab a painting and run away with it?

I am sure I am not the only person who would like a beautiful painting hanging on their wall. But I guess worrying about stealing a painting from the museum is not that common. Well… that was another intrusive thought I would have. It was less scarier than the other ones but it still shows how creative OCD can be.

Conclusion

I am proud to tell you that no paintings/staff were harmed during my museum visit. You might have already guessed that because I wouldn’t be writing this post if I acted on any of my intrusive thoughts.

I honestly have no idea whether my OCD is responsible for my extreme creativity or whether it’s the other way around but I thought it would be a good thing for me to share with you what kinds of thoughts I have. As I only spent a limited amount of time at the museum so these thoughts haven’t really had a great impact on my life but at least I could show you what my “OCD brain” works like!

Further Reading

Your Thoughts

As you all know, there is one thing I love more than sharing my stories: reading yours. Do you think there is a link between OCD and creativity? Is there any OCD story you’d like to tell us? Feel free to share your thoughts, feelings and stories in the comment section!

Love,

Mark

7 thoughts on “OCD – A Creative Disorder

  1. Mark, this is fascinating reading. It is something I would like to research further, the connection between OCD and creativity.

    As I have shared with you before, when I was doing my Doctorate, a professor told us that all academics have some degree of obsessiveness.
    I agree with that.

    When I read your sentence our thoughts are ‘bats***….’ , I originally misread that as our thoughts are ‘brats’….😄 Yes, some thoughts are like that.🤗

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Sally,

      I am glad you’ve found my post fascinating 🙂 and same here, I would really love to make a little bit more research on this topic and at this moment I am trying to figure out how to get started! 😀 If you have any interesting articles to share about this topic, please feel free to do so! Would really appreciate!

      And I do agree with you on the fact that academics are likely to have some degree of obsessiveness. Having an obsession does motivate you to study more and more about a particular topic (in my case I guess it’s being obsessed about OCD itself!)

      and well – it’s fun how we can misread things 😀

      Stay safe,

      Mark

      Like

  2. I really enjoyed this post, Mark.
    “exciting new “OCD opportunities”” gave me a bit of a chuckle – a wonderful and expressive turn of phrase.
    Of course, I can’t quite laugh at your worries over throwing the chair. Everyone has crazy thoughts that sneak in from out of nowhere sometimes. Where do they even come from? But I imagine they are much more nagging and persistent for someone with OCD. My sister has anxiety and of course it’s been pretty bad during COVID, and I often talk to her about personifying it. It too gives her “bad thoughts” that can be quite persistent. Amazingly persistent, even when the worry itself makes little sense, like throwing a chair at a painting. That’s not a real thing, that’s not a thing that you would actually do, and yet once the thought is there it inherently seems more possible. Our brains are kind of amazing, although it’s hard to really appreciate something like that when it’s trying so hard to disable you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Jay,

      Apologies for the late reply and I am glad you enjoyed reading this post ❤

      Well yes 😀 OCD is all about "opportunities" . It's like…..you tell yourself that it cannot possible get any crazier but OCD will always find its way and it will always manage to come up with something even more shocking.
      Indeed, it would be great to know where these thoughts come from. Most of the people I have talked to have them but people with OCD are much more likely to start worrying about these thoughts – like, me personally I know that my thoughts are irrational but it doesn't mean I can stop obsessing about them.
      I am sorry to hear that your sister has anxiety – it's been very difficult for many of us since the pandemic started because this time it is something real like…before the pandemic, most of my fears were completely irrational and I could still convince myself not to worry about them but with COVID-19 it's different. One thing that's helped me a lot was giving myself a "daily limit" on reading the news.

      Thank you for reading ❤

      Stay safe,

      Mark

      Like

  3. Hi Mark, I have only recently found your website, and it is brilliant. You have a great way of explaining everything with humour, but making serious points. I suspect that creativity and OCD may go together because if you have a vivid imagination, it is all too easy to come up with lots of possibilities of things that can go wrong or could happen. Also I think (and I love English literature and philosophy) that if you have a mind that delves deeply into things and likes to try to solve problems, it is hard for your mind to rest.

    I am now in my 50s but have always had these kind of thoughts from a young age. When I read about your leaving the bottle of champagne on the bench and worrying about it, it really struck a chord with me. I get very worried if I don’t pick things up I see on the floor – I think what if someone gets poisoned, or a dog picks it up and it poisons them. When I was at college when I was about 18 I saw the other girls in my class wash the teacher’s cake tin in the basins in the bathroom, and dry it on the roller towel (admittedly a clean bit of roller towel). They hadn’t done this to be nasty, it’s just that we didn’t have a kitchen on our floor. I worried all holidays – what if she got ill from this cake tin. Of course when I went back to college she was absolutely fine and healthy! But the mind plays tricks on you.

    Anyway I hope you and your family stay well in this pandemic. Thanks for sharing, I’m sure this will help a lot of people.

    Nicky

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Nicky,

      Apologies for the late reply. I am glad you like my blog, it really means a lot to me. And I too think that OCD and creativity go together – I am not sure whether I have OCD because I am creative or whether I am creative because I have OCD but I suspect there is a link between OCD & Creativity.

      And same here! I am a huge fan of literature and philosophy and it’s always been very difficult for me to give my mind a rest. Like sometimes it feels as if I were just unable to “switch it off” It really feels like having a constant storm of thoughts in my head – a never ending loop of “what ifs” and catastrophic scenarios.

      I can totally relate to your story about the teacher’s cake tin. I normally spend an enormous amount of time on washing the dishes because I am scared of not washing them well enough and eventually ending up making someone sick. A lot of people think that OCD is just about being tidy but there is so much more to it. I have always thought I could be a great risk analyst as I can literally think of at least a hundred things that could put my loved ones in danger – some of them are rational, others are not and it’s just crazy how quickly I can analyze all of these “potential risks”.

      I really hope that we can help other people by sharing our stories – at the beginning of my “OCD journey” I did not use to know what was wrong with me and I used to be afraid of telling other people about the way I was feeling but over the years, I’ve learnt that there are a lot of other people who’re going through the same thing and it really helps a lot to know that there are people out there who understand the way I feel.

      Thank you for your comment,_

      Stay safe,

      Mark

      Like

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