Entity discusses how Harry Potter book helps to explain OCD.

A never-ending cycle of intrusive, dark thoughts. Nightmarish broken records playing over and over. A small, stubborn mechanism calling out your deepest fears, no matter how nonsensical or uncharacteristic.

Sounds like a blast, right? This is what it’s like being controlled by Voldemort in “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.”

It’s also what it’s like living with Intrusive Thought OCD.

It turns out that four out of five people have these types of thoughts. These are the thoughts you automatically put in the “weird thought box,” and forget about.

People with Intrusive Thought OCD, or one out of five people, don’t have that box. So basically, it keeps swirling around and around in a never-ending cycle. They then develop compulsions in order to deal with these thoughts.

So how did a “Harry Potter” book help me understand my condition? Because a mental disorder is sometimes better explained by an evil wizard tossing dark magic into your brain like it’s a swirling, whirlwind of a garbage disposal.

Harry believed his intrusive thoughts were reflections of his character.

Harry: “What if after everything that I’ve been through, something’s gone wrong inside me? What if I’m becoming bad?”

Sirius Black: “I want you to listen to me very carefully, Harry. You’re not a bad person. You’re a very good person, who bad things have happened to.”

In the darkest “Harry Potter” book in the series, Voldemort invades Harry’s mind with terrifying, evil thoughts and images. Harry struggles with separating those thoughts from his own, especially when he is emotionally vulnerable.

It took me the longest time to realize the dark thoughts I was experiencing were not reflections of my personality — they were intruders.

Harry felt so much guilt for these thoughts, he identified himself as a criminal despite his lack of a criminal record.

Entity discusses how Harry Potter helps explain OCD

Harry faces Voldemort in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2. Image via Youtube

His stomach was full of horrible hot, bubbling guilt. They would not be here if it were not for him; they would all still be asleep in bed… there was also the inescapable business of it being he who had attacked Mr. Weasley in the first place.

In the fifth “Harry Potter” book, Harry doesn’t tell anyone about his intrusive thoughts for the longest time. He is embarrassed and ashamed by the awful things popping up in his head. He also loses the ability to tell the difference between which are Voldemort’s memories and which are his own.

Intrusive thoughts did the same for me — and I ended up with a crippling fear of myself.

There is no way for Harry to stop the intrusive thoughts without a line of defense.

Entity discusses OCD comparisons in the fifth Harry Potter book

Snape teaches Harry to block Voldemort’s thoughts. Image via Youtube

 Snape: “Fools who wear their hearts proudly on their sleeves, who cannot control their emotions, who wallow in sad memories and allow themselves to be provoked easily — weak people, in other words — they stand no chance against his powers! He will penetrate your mind with insane ease, Potter!” 

Harry has to develop a mental barrier to protect himself against Voldemort’s influence. In wizard lexicon, “legilimency” is mind-reading, and “occlumency” is the ability to resist mind-readers. In the book, there was no way Harry could defeat the former without the latter. The answer was not a state of mind, or some fresh air — he had to have guided practice and instruction from a professional.

Both Harry and I were very opposed to this method — it took years to build up the courage to ask for help.

Intrusive thoughts are constant.

Hermione kept asking him what was wrong whenever he fell silent trying to rid himself of all thought and emotion and, after all, the best moment to empty his brain was not while teachers were firing revision questions at the class.

Imagine having your mind involuntarily overloaded with heinous thoughts about suicide, murder, blasphemy… you get the picture. Now imagine having all of those while trying to pay attention in Pre-Calculus class.

I would snap back to reality after 10 minutes of attempting to ignore the intruders, only to find an entire 15 minutes of lecture had passed me by.

Talking about intrusive thoughts is like putting your biggest secret on a billboard.

Entity discusses OCD comparisons in the fifth Harry Potter book

Harry speaks with Sirius in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. Image via Youtube

“But that’s not all,” said Harry, in a voice only a little above a whisper. “Sirius, I … I think I’m going mad. Back in Dumbledore’s office, just before we took the Portkey … for a couple of seconds there I thought I was a snake, I felt like one–my scar really hurt when I was looking at Dumbledore–Sirius, I wanted to attack him!”

My intrusive thoughts began at age 11, when all I wanted to be was normal (aka not psycho). Going to a therapist was still viewed as something for “crazy people,” and talking about the intrusive thoughts only made me feel crazier.

I thought at any moment that the therapist would look at me with wide eyes and burst out of the room. It was extremely uncomfortable to be that emotionally vulnerable — you basically feel naked even with all of your clothes on. However, talking about the thoughts shed light on something I had stuffed in the shadows. And over time, fear lost its grip on me.

So have I recovered? For the most part, yes. Despite my lack of a “box” for these intrusive thoughts, I have instead developed a “label-maker” of sorts.  By labeling intrusive thoughts as an exterior force, I have taken the power away from them.

However, I encourage anyone who struggles with unpleasant thoughts (or the subsequent compulsions) to get help as soon as you can.

Don’t wait for another inspiring “Harry Potter” book to take charge of your mental health. Trust me… it’s worth it.

Edited by Kayla Caldwell

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