« Blog

Today’s post is a guest post from Shala Nicely, who originally wrote this blog for her own OCD blog called “Aha! Moments.” You may remember that Shala was our keynote speaker at last year’s conference in Atlanta, where she spoke about her journey through OCD treatment, recovery, and her decision to go back to school to become an OCD therapist herself.  Shala’s blog today is about finding parallels for OCD and treatment in the popular movie Frozen, specifically Elsa’s song “Let it Go.” You can read more from Shala on her blog here.

When I was a little girl, I used to daydream that I had fantastic, magical powers.  I would imagine myself standing in my front yard, waving my hands in the air, making amazing things happen.  I would see my friends’ faces as they stood around me, surprised, delighted, and impressed.  I would think how wonderful that would be, how much everyone would like and respect me and my abilities. 

I created these dreams because I knew the opposite was true.  From the time I was a little girl, I knew that I had terrible powers.  That I could hurt people with my thoughts.  That bad things happened because of me.  That I had to do special things to keep everyone I loved safe.

I understood that if anyone knew about my terrible powers, I would be shunned.  Banished from society.  So I kept my capabilities and the special things I did to protect people a secret, even from my parents and my best friends, because that’s how I kept them safe.  I had to pretend like everything was OK and act perfectly all the time, so that no one would know, because that’s how I kept myself safe.

I just didn’t know that my terrible powers were called OCD.

Imagine my surprise at hearing Elsa, who was born with the power to freeze everything and everyone around her in the Disney movie Frozen, sing about what it’s like for her to hide her terrible powers from everyone:

“Don’t let them in.  Don’t let them see.  Be the good girl you always have to be.  Conceal, don’t feel, put on a show. Make one wrong move and everyone will know.”

She was talking about me as a little girl!  That’s what I did!  What’s even more amazing to me is that the theme song from the movie, Let It Go, could not have been written any more perfectly to describe my triumph over my own terrible powers and a wonderful approach in general for beating OCD, which I’d like to share below.  (Song lyrics are in italics, my notes are in parentheses).

Let It Go (and how it relates to triumphing over OCD)

The snow glows white on the mountain tonight
Not a footprint to be seen
A kingdom of isolation
And it looks like I’m the Queen
The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside
Couldn’t keep it in, heaven knows I tried

(Elsa describes how isolating and alone having “terrible powers” can be as well as how hard it is to keep these powers hidden. How exhausting, demoralizing, and impossible it is to bear this heavy secret.)

Don’t let them in, don’t let them see
Be the good girl you always have to be
Conceal, don’t feel, don’t let them know

(This was my mantra for years, until I decided that my OCD was becoming more powerful because of my secrecy.)

Well, now they know

(So I started telling people I had OCD.)

Let it go, let it go
Can’t hold it back anymore
Let it go, let it go
Turn away and slam the door
I don’t care what they’re going to say
Let the storm rage on
The cold never bothered me anyway

(Then, through ERP therapy, I started letting my terrible powers out, by letting the obsessions play in my mind instead of pushing them away.  I didn’t do the compulsions I used to do to protect people.)

It’s funny how some distance makes everything seem small
And the fears that once controlled me can’t get to me at all

(I learned I could handle uncertainty, and that OCD  didn’t have the power to hurt anyone but me, if I let it rule my life.)

It’s time to see what I can do

(I kept doing more ERP…)

To test the limits and break through

(and more….)

No right, no wrong, no rules for me

( and more….)

I’m free

(…and I kept feeling better and better.)

Let it go, let it go
I am one with the wind and sky
Let it go, let it go

(I learned that although I have OCD…)

You’ll never see me cry
Here I stand and here I’ll stay
Let the storm rage on

(… it doesn’t have to have me.)

My power flurries through the air into the ground
My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around
thought crystallizes like an icy blast
I’m never going back. The past is in the past

(There’s no cure for OCD, but I keep myself virtually OCD-free by doing maintenance ERP, so I can keep OCD in my past.)

Let it go, let it go
And I’ll rise like the break of dawn
Let it go, let it go
That perfect girl is gone

(OCD thrives off perfection, so I have dropped the “perfect” persona I used to use to protect myself from others  and protect others from me.)

Here I stand in the light of day
Let the storm rage on
The cold never bothered me anyway.

(I decided to put my knowledge of the terrible powers of OCD to good use, by helping others who also have OCD.)

ERP, along with mindfulness, self-compassion, and gratitude, is how I keep my terrible powers in my past. It’s how, like Elsa, I stay free.

-Shala Nicely, MS, LAPC, NCC


  • Margaret Sisson

    Shala this is wonderful! Thank you for sharing!

  • Kimberley

    Thank you so much for sharing! My 11 year old daughter will love and appreciate all of your comments that so perfectly connect her biggest challenge in life (OCD) with one of her favorite songs. Thanks and take care!!

  • This is truly wonderful! I can’t wait to share this with my daughter; 19 and struggling with OCD…one day at a time 🙂


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *