Secret Life with OCD

Secret Life with OCD

I’ve been trying to find a way to express or even document all the problems I’ve had over the years with OCD. OCD is as special type of disorder. One that has caused me tremendous pain in my life. My thoughts are really scattered. I’m unsure of how to write what I’m feeling – of how OCD has made me feel. It’s a lot of years to cover. Ten years old is when I feel that my OCD wholly manifested. I do not know exactly what age I began to exhibit symptoms, but I do know that it was full blown by age ten. My mother can definitely attest to that. Ten was a year of confusion and anxiety. I wish I could remember my compulsions during my younger years. I wish I had been diagnosed earlier so I would have had time to better organize my long list of compulsions. I wish that we would have known there was a name for what I suffered from. Very few people, even twelve years later, know the extent of my battle with OCD, if they even know of it at all. An SSRI + a serotonin agonist and exposure therapy works well for me. I learned of Albert Ellis over the years and his work with irrational beliefs. Counseling myself and exposing those irrational beliefs is a hobby I’ve become quite good at over the years. But I wish I would’ve have known in sooner. I wish that OCD wasn’t so misunderstood that I was misdiagnosed for years with generalized anxiety. I wish I would’ve known I wasn’t a sinner for the thoughts I had. This post is a huge step for me. And honestly it’s just rambling. But it feels good. It’s almost an unexplainable purge of emotions and worries that have been built up inside for so long. If you met me today, you would never know I have well-managed OCD. My college professors don’t know. Even after four entire years of our lives intertwixt. Albeit, some may have some suspicion that something was wrong, but I don’t think there is a person that has met me in the past 6 years that could tell you I have OCD, besides my husband. He knows from little leftover fragments here and there and from childhood memories. But the thing about OCD is that it’s still inside me. It’s my brain. My brain that has too much or too little of this or that. My brain that works in such a specific way that even medication can’t change it. It makes it easier and less anxiety-provoking to deal with the thoughts & compulsions, but it does not change the way I think. I wish I could construct an exhaustive list of all the repetitive thoughts I’ve ever had. There have been times of some relief. I am aware that my OCD is exacerbated by stress, extremely emotional situations, and not being in control. Control is a huge one. Not being able to control an extremely stressful and emotional situation + my OCD = a very very bad outcome. An outcome that I don’t believe medication could even prevent. So I’ll live my life as best I can. I’ll live it in the most stress-free demeanor. My personality has shifted over the past four or so years. A patience level gifted from God and an incredible ability to remain calm are the two main markers of my present self. My 16-17 year old self had about 1/10 of the patience and relaxation I have now. But this personality change was a necessary evolution. Survival of the mentally fittest. I evolved to a personality that could better tolerate the workings of my brain. It occurred over the course of years, but it really did the trick. I gain more patience with each passing day. I actively try to evolve into a person that has a greater ability to relax and deal with stressors. In the name of full disclosure, I bet you guys are wanting to know what it’s like inside the brain of an OCD sufferer. Let me show you. Car rides seemed to do it for me something extra in my younger days. I still have extreme issues when it comes to car rides where I am not driving. But, for some reason or another, car rides caused me to exhibit some of my most memorable compulsions. I couldn’t talk, listen to the radio, even enjoy the scenery because I was busy counting car lengths. Normal enough? The car lengths had to coincide exactly with the sections of fence. I would tell myself “oh if you get to 100 then you can stop.” But I had to start over every time a car length did not perfectly line up with a section of fence. I never got to 100. Cars doing it some more for me during this same time frame. I had a specific rhythm I had to tap with my feet repeatedly for the entire length of time we were in the car. I was so focused on tapping this rhythm perfectly that I eventually would tap it without even realizing. This compulsion ruined band for me. I couldn’t ever keep the true beat without regressing into my rhythm. I had to shut the sliding door to my grandparents’ van without touching anything but the handle. My body or any other object couldn’t brush any part of the door or I would have to shut it again. This compulsion was a complex one. It has a few more parts to it. If I managed to shut the door within the standards mentioned above, I still had to buckle my seatbelt and have the door shut within 7 seconds. Or I had to do it again. I can’t tell you how many van doors I’ve slid open and closed. The worst part of these compulsions is the irrational belief that went with them: “I have to do it like this or God doesn’t love me.” I was raised extremely religious, and I felt that this was the ultimate sin. In fact, I was so ashamed by this that this blog is actually the first time I’ve ever admitted to it. To anyone. Ever. Because it’s completely irrational and WE ARE SO AWARE THAT OUR THOUGHTS AND COMPULSIONS ARE IRRATIONAL. Please don’t feel the need to tell me that these thoughts are outrageous. I know. But the synapses in my brain just can’t carry that information to the place it needs to be. Medication helps. But it is an everyday struggle against who I am. Against the chemistry in my control center. I wish I could remember more battles I’ve had over the years, but I can’t. I want this to be a post that I can update with recalled memories or new compulsions when they inevitably appear. Excuse my messy thoughts, my brain is broken.

4 thoughts on “Secret Life with OCD

  1. This blog could have been so easily written by me.
    I know exactly what you go through! The time and energy being wasted on such repetitions is horrible.

    I have a huge obsession with numbers.
    Sometimes I overeat or not eat at all, because I’m afraid I will get to a certain amount of bites I take.

    It’s also very true what you say about people not assuming that this constantly on your mind.
    At times, I have opened up to people about my disorder.
    You wouldn’t believe, but some told me that they don’t believe me.
    “You’re constantly happy, people with a mental illness are not like that” or “But you haven’t even done your dishes, you’re definitely not OCD”.
    And the worst: “I have OCD too”, while laughing.

    Trust me, if you wouldn’t know anything about OCD, you wouldn’t be saying these crazy things!

    My OCD issues cost a lot money.
    Whenever something goes terribly wrong, I most likely will have throw away the clothes I’m wearing.
    I seem to be ordering the same pants and shirt each week.

    Also, change of scenery helps.
    So definitely I am going on more vacations than any regular person.

    It’s a difficult life like this, isn’t it? 😦

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    1. It is a difficult life, but you’re doing a great job. I also have an obsession with clothes that I’m wearing. I had to give away the shirt I was wearing when my mother in law died. Like you know it has nothing to do with clothes, but you can’t help but need to never wear them again. I hate it when people say they’re OCD too. I usually don’t talk about the disorder because I don’t feel like listening to someone making the same comments they make to you. People really misunderstand OCD. I think it may be one of the most misunderstood mental illnesses.

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  2. I’m beginning to wonder how much of these things are hereditary. Do you think you could fo more into that for those of us who share some of the same things, with no diagnosis, along the family tree?

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