Life with OCD: “When Being Labeled Is a Good Thing”

Labels are often considered a bad thing—and sometimes they are, like when you label someone as crazy or a loser, or when you can’t see past a label to the complex person behind it. But labels aren’t all bad. I know I’d rather open my file cabinet to see organized, labeled tabs instead of a bunch of blank folders I have to search through.

When I was diagnosed with OCD, I was relieved. Before I knew I had this treatable disorder, my symptoms felt random. All they seemed to have in common was how terrible they made me feel about myself. Monster, sick, and deviant are all pretty terrible labels—not to mention not at all helpful.

When friends and family would notice that I seemed blue and asked if I was okay, I didn’t know where to begin. No, I wasn’t okay. But what was going on? And how could I tell them what was going through my head? It was too shameful to even whisper.

Labeling my intrusive thoughts as OCD was the first step toward getting better and starting a happier, more meaningful life. Having the OCD label meant I knew where to look for help. I could use it to find the right doctor, the right books, and the right support systems. I could type it into a search bar and get relevant results. It’s helped me connect with more amazing people than I ever could have hoped for. If I didn’t know I had OCD, didn’t have the OCD label, I’d still be suffering and searching aimlessly for relief.

Of course, OCD doesn’t define me. I’m not labeled as OCD—my symptoms are. I’m also a wife, an aunt, a sister, a friend, and a daughter, all roles that enrich my life. I’m an author, I have two spunky dogs, I play way too much Candy Crush, and I love to read. I wouldn’t enjoy any of these things without my diagnosis—before I got help I was often miserable and felt guilty when I wasn’t because I thought I was too depraved to deserve happiness.

How did you feel when you were diagnosed with OCD? Did you feel relieved? Embarrassed? Labeled in a negative way?

Alison Dotson


*Sponsored by nOCD – an OCD treatment app that helps OCD patients get treatment when they need it most in a clinically effective way (!

Learn more about nOCD and our mission to revolutionize OCD treatment at


2 thoughts on “Life with OCD: “When Being Labeled Is a Good Thing”

  1. I completely see where you’re coming from with labels as a positive. I agree that it was a relief to know what the problem was and then be able to attack it appropriately.


  2. That’s great! I know some people who weren’t relieved and it took them a long time to accept the diagnosis. It makes me sad when parents don’t get their kids help because they don’t want them labeled–I understand their concern, though.


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