How many OCD kids does it take to change a light bulb? Just one, but he’ll do it 1,000 times. 

I’m CDO- it’s like OCD but in alphabetical order like it should be. 

Fix that crooked picture frame, it’s driving my OCD nuts. 

I’m way too OCD to let my dishes sit in the sink overnight. 

 

2 months ago I heard (and said) things like this all the time. In our culture all too often OCD is a thing to joke about, something that defines weirdos who wash their hands all day, or a way to describe perfectionism. But I know now that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is real, because I have it.

I was diagnosed a few weeks ago with Scrupulosity OCD. Basically my brain interprets religious morals as strict “rules,” often blowing them way out of proportion and expecting a standard of perfection from myself.

When I inevitably fail to be my idea of perfect, my brain goes haywire and my anxiety is through the roof. Any performance less than flawless is unacceptable. I cope with the anxiety by avoiding things I can’t do perfectly, distracting from intrusive thoughts of failure, or working myself into the ground to be perfect. These are called compulsions or neutralizing behaviors- things I do to neutralize the threat of not being perfect. When I can’t neutralize I have panic attacks. It’s exhausting to be in my head.

I am not the least bit afraid of germs, my bedroom room is always a disaster, and I have OCD.

OCD is not what most people think. There are different varieties. Contamination OCD isn’t just a dislike for germs. It is an obsession that can cause people to literally feel like bugs are crawling on their skin if they touch a doorknob. Imagine that feeling for a second…no wonder they wash all the time or just stay in their house to avoid anywhere that their brain tells them is contaminated.

I’m just beginning to learn about my OCD and about other types too. But there’s a few things I have learned and want everyone to know (if you haven’t noticed yet I like lists).
1. OCD usually doesn’t make annnny sense to people on the outside. So what if it’s got germs on it? Germs don’t kill people. So what you made a mistake? Just repent and move on. But that’s the thing, is that in our heads, it’s not “so what.” It’s real and the physical anxiety we feel is just how you’d feel in a burning building. Our compulsions may be visible or not but it feels like we have to do them to survive; they’re the only thing that keeps us from actually falling off our rockers.
2. People are not OCD; they have OCD. We don’t say things like, “She is cancer” or “He is dementia.” It makes a huge difference when we can separate our diagnosis from who we are as human beings.
3. There is hope. THERE IS! My first advice to anyone battling this nasty thing is to get educated (start here at the IOCDF) and find a really good therapist/treatment program who uses Exposure and Response Prevention.
I hate to speak too soon, but the OCD and Anxiety Treatment center feels like the miracle I’ve been searching for. I spent a year and a half seeking for treatment for anxiety before I realized that the anxiety was just an effect of OCD. As I face my fears every day, I’m reteaching my brain to save the dang anxiety for, like, actual catastrophes.  I can finally invite friends over, go out dancing, or spend time with family and ENJOY IT!
I’m taking my life back from OCD. You can too.

2 thoughts on “I am NOT my OCD.

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