Have you ever heard someone say “I’m so OCD” because they like their surroundings to be neat and tidy? Have you ever said this yourself? If so, I have a shocking personal fact to tell you. I have OCD and I’m not bothered when my room gets messy.
How could this be? While it’s true that some people with OCD are obsessively neat and tidy, the disorder has a wide array of symptoms.
OCD, or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, is characterized by internal obsessions. Some people with OCD solely have internal symptoms, while others experience compulsions as well. Compulsions can take the form of many things, including checking to see if certain household appliances are off; washing your hands a specific number of times; or making sure objects are aligned evenly. But these activities alone don’t necessarily mean you have OCD. For people with OCD, it’s more than a preference that annoys us when we can’t do these things. It is very distressing when we are unable to act out our compulsions.
For me, faucets are a serious trigger. I turn the faucet on to use it and turn it off when I’m done. My eyes see that the faucet is off, but my brain still thinks it’s on. I tap and turn the faucet handles until my brain catches up. The same happens with doors, ovens, hair tools… you get the point. My head convinces me that if I don’t make sure that these items are turned off, I will flood the house or cause a fire. There’s no in-between. It’s either check multiple times or disaster will ensue.
I thought my obsessions and compulsions would control me and I would never be able to live a life free of mental gymnastics. In 2018, I was at my wits end with OCD. I found a therapist who specialized in OCD and I began to see a psychiatrist. With their help, my compulsions have decreased almost entirely. I am down to one check for each trigger. With the right combination of medication and coping techniques, I live a much better life. I still struggle with intrusive thoughts, which take the form of embarrassing memories. To cope, I use the “five-five-five” technique. I don’t let myself worry about something for more than five minutes if it won’t matter in five months or five years. This helps bring me out of the dungeon that is intrusive thinking.
If you or someone you know struggles with OCD, don’t lose hope. I never thought I’d get to where I am today, and I’m so glad I put in the work to ease my symptoms. OCD doesn’t go away, but you can get better. If you want more information about OCD, visit the International OCD Foundation website at iocdf.org or contact RPSV at rpsva.org and (800) 374-4198.
Anonymous Guest Blogger