OCD – Going Numb

Watching my OCD symptoms diminish was the most incredible and empowering thing, but it scared me because as my compulsions slipped, so did my emotional sensitivity and I was left feeling numb.  

This is a frightening feeling.  I wondered what parts of my personality my OCD would take with it and I felt my identity threatened.  What if Van Gogh or other tortured artists never had their depression? Would they still be artists?  Do you need misery to fuel passion?  

I saw an episode of “House” where Dr. H discusses this in a great way:

“Miserable? You think that by taking meds you’ll lose your edge? Stop making the unique connections that make you a successful doctor?” 
   “If Van Gogh was your patient, he’d be satisfied painting houses instead of ‘The Starry Night’.” 
   “Van Gogh would still be making inspired paintings of the night sky. Just maybe not from the room of his asylum.” 
   “You don’t know that.” 
   “I know both his ears would be intact. And I know his life would be better.”


My therapist showed me to look at my numb feeling like a concert.  When you walk outside a concert where the music was blaring, you feel like there’s clouds in your ears and everything is quieter than it should be.  It’s not that the world suddenly spoke in a whisper, it’s that you get used to high volume and moving into a normal range feels quieter than it really is, BUT it eventually levels out and that “quiet world” starts to sound normal.  

With OCD you feel everything extreme in your emotional range.  Everything is severe, so when you start to turn down the volume on your emotions, it feels numb.  

After my OCD became asymptomatic, I felt euphoric, but then I crashed into an identity crisis.  Who was I without my OCD?  It felt wrong and bad not knowing who I was because I questioned everything in my life from my breakfast choices to my husband, but what I would tell someone else going through the same thing is that don’t beat yourself up during this search for the self.  You’ll find your identity, but it will take time.  

Today I am no longer the “OCD Girl”, but I am a girl with OCD.  My OCD is not the star of the show, but it’s a part of my story, and that’s ok. 

6 thoughts on “OCD – Going Numb

  1. First, thank you so much for this post.
    Here’s my experience with these feelings and how I handle them.

    My post-treatment euphoria told me that it was time to go back to college, that I could do better this time.. It was true!! Everything is easier in the new, asymptomatic world! So, for about a month of the semester, I just reveled in this. I could finally read again without spending an hour turning the page, and I could write papers. It was exciting. It was also exciting to be back with my friends. I’d developed significant relationships with many people on my small campus. After my year of absence, nothing had changed! Except me…..

    I’m finding it sooo hard to re-learn to interact with my world and other people. I don’t know where I fit now. I’m not sure what my role is in a social environment, because I respond to situations differently now, and I even think differently (more clearly, I suppose.)

    I just have to keep reminding myself that I have always been this person, and treating my OCD did nothing to my character but build it.

    • That’s amazing!! I am so happy to hear that! It sounds like you are enjoying and experimenting with your new role and I know the feeling of not really knowing where you fit in can be difficult, but time and this adjustment period will pass and things will start to feel less peculiar 🙂

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  3. I’m actually experiencing something very similar. This is very inspiring and helpful to me. Thank you for sharing your story.

  4. I suffer from OCD and I can go from super anxiety over unwanted thoughts to feeling numb and fear what have I done to become numb or will I ever feel emotions again. I live in fear the majority of the time. Please tell me this is normal and there is hope

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