Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a mental health disorder that affects people of all ages and walks of life, and occurs when a person gets caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings. Compulsions are behaviors an individual engages in to attempt to get rid of the obsessions and/or decrease his or her distress.” (iocdf.org)
A lot of people joke about “having OCD”, but rarely do many actually understand what it means to be clinically diagnosed with OCD.
I can remember having symptoms of OCD from the age of 8. It wasn’t until I was 21 that I was actually diagnosed. I have always had certain tendencies that have seemed to consume my entire mind until I am satisfied I have repeated them enough and have peace of mind. OCD is different for everyone; it’s not always about things being messy or having to color code your wardrobe because it bothers you otherwise. In fact, it’s rarely ever that. I’m talking about legitimately debilitating tendencies. Feelings and thoughts that you literally cannot continue on with your day unless you feel satisfied and in control.
I’ve only ever talked about this thoroughly with two people in my life, so this is sort of a coming out about what I have struggled with for almost my entire life. When my habits start kicking in, it involves the feeling of suffocation. In fact, most of my habits surround that. For instance: putting the lid back on a water bottle or any lid on anything for that matter. If I don’t blow air into the bottle before hand, I feel this suffocating feeling that I can’t shake until I ensure that there is air in the bottle. Another example? If I finish a drink, I have to turn the glass over and shake it to get the last droplets of liquid out or I feel the suffocating feeling.
The thing about OCD is that those of us afflicted by this disorder know it’s irrational. We know it doesn’t make sense and we wish we didn’t have to deal with it, but it’s something we feel compelled to do. Something we have to do. There is medication and therapy out there for OCD; in fact, I am on one of those medications now and I have also undergone exposure therapy where I was subjected to my irrational thoughts until I was able to calm down.
If you’ve never noticed me performing these tendencies in action, it’s because I’ve had years to learn how to hide it. It’s embarrassing and again, I know it’s irrational, so I can only imagine what others would think.
OCD is a disorder I have come to terms with that I will likely deal with for the rest of my life. And I am happy to share my experiences with it so that others who may be afflicted don’t feel alone. I would love to talk to others with this condition and build a network where I can just laugh at how funny it is sometimes. It’s not a funny situation, but for me, humor is a way of coping and sometimes you just have to laugh at how complex human beings are!
Either way – know that you aren’t alone and that I am an open book on all things mental health.
Until next time!