#43: OCD in action

In this update, I share a positive application of my OCD in my efforts to become a villain.

These weekly updates are an ongoing series in which I share what it is like to live with OCD in an effort to reduce the stigma around mental health, particularly in the workplace.

This past weekend, I attended a training session to become a villain. For a few years, we have been involved with Heroic Youth, an organization that runs events designed to give children faith-promoting and confidence-building experiences. The boys are treated as knights, given swords and shields, and trained in chivalry. The girls are treated as maidens, given a bow and arrows, and trained in virtue and honor. Our older children have participated, and it has been one of their favorite activities.

In each of those years, I have volunteered as a villain for the simulation to participate in the final mock battle. We provide the children the experience of conquering hordes of evil as part of an inspiring storyline.

This training was for adult and youth leader volunteers to be able to act in our appointed roles. It included a discussion of the storyline the children will experience and some of the lessons they will hopefully learn.

As I listened to the plans, and the ways in which the children will be able to confront evil and see the consequences of their and others’ actions, I become emotional. The descriptions were informative, not meant to be emotional or inspiring. In general, I am a crier, but this was a little much even for me. This is often a sign that my OCD is flaring up, and I am becoming symptomatic.

As we split off for training in our specific roles, the villains were given instructions on the fighting that will take place. We will each have a sword and shield to use in the battle. The swords have a PVC pipe center with a foam exterior, and the shields have a wooden core and are also covered with foam. The leaders of the villains are part of official groups that engage in this kind of combat, on the regional and even national level. They didn’t specify, but from my research, they probably participate in Dagorhir or Belegarth events.

We spent all of our available training time in mock battles. Ostensibly that was to give us training, but I think it’s more because they just enjoy the fighting. I like people with that kind of passion.

Within the villain corps, they asked for volunteers for additional responsibility. One position, the lieutenant, piqued my interest. They need someone to be responsible for coordinating all the equipment and people and tracking everything down as the battles end.

Essentially, they need someone with OCD.

When I heard them describe that position, I knew it was for me and that I could do even more than they had imagined. I approached the leader during a transition and told him my idea. I pitched having a coordinating lieutenant who would work with all lieutenants across the teams. He listened for a minute and then replied,

We have a new position this year—the coordinating lieutenant. Go talk to the volunteer coordinator and tell him I said that should be you.

I’m still not sure exactly what happened there. Did he like my idea and went with it? Did he hear my idea and make it his own? Or did he really have that position already planned, including the exact name I suggested? Either way, it’s a good fit for me, and I’m excited to help out.

One of the keys in my OCD recovery is recognizing the strengths that are associated with the way my brain operates, as well as the weaknesses. That is true for all of us. Often our weaknesses are just strengths that are misapplied or taken too far. Having that perspective can help us be kind to ourselves, and to those around us whose weaknesses are often more visible than their underlying strengths.


If you would like to receive these updates in your inbox and help reduce the stigma of mental health in the workplace, join us.