Your Mind

You Don’t Have OCD— I Do.

By March 1, 2016 1

“Oh my god, I’m so OCD.” I hear this all the time. Like when my friends organize their closets or clean out their fridge. Excuse me, you are NOT OCD- you are a normal person. Let me know when your urge to clean out your underwear drawer makes you have a panic attack, and it takes every ounce of will power to get out of bed in the morning because you know the anxiety that comes with it. Then you can tell me you understand what I go through.

I, ME, HALLY has OCD. It comes and it goes, but it’s always there. I’ve been on and off anxiety meds since I was 15. I go through months where I think I’ve made OCD my bitch and can conquer the world, but before I know it, my mind is back on lock down. It feels like I’m in a jail cell with just my ruminations to keep me company.

One of my many therapists likened it to a rash, so I’m going to take this analogy even further. Let’s say it’s a rash on your lower left butt cheek. Sometimes this rash is so small, you are laughing at it. After all the embarrassment it has caused you at the pool, you hardly notice it. You have put so much cream on this rash that you have CONQUERED IT. It is gone! Ha ha rash! I am wearing that Victoria’s Secret bikini bottom today, and you can’t stop me! But let’s also note that you have extremely sensitive skin. So anything, chlorine, some sunscreen, can set it off. So you come into contact with a few of these things and now the rash HAS BEEN ACTIVATED. It’s red, dry, and scaly and very noticeable. And who knows how long this is going to take to calm down? Forget wearing your swimsuit, how the hell are you going to even sit down with these welts on your lower left butt cheek?

OCD is the rash in my mind that no one can see. It affects my life every day, and just like the butt rash it varies in intensity but it’s always there. Whether it’s my weekly existential crisis or worrying about why a guy won’t text me back, you best believe I’m obsessing over something. The incessant thinking never stops. Ever.

Oh don’t get me wrong, there are some positives to having this disorder. I make a mean To-Do list and am one hell of a planner (Need help throwing a party? I gotcha covered because I will think of EVERYTHING.) And I am a great friend! (Partly because I am constantly worrying about being a bad one.) I’m also pretty funny. I highly doubt I would be co-hosting a radio show or writing if my mind was any different than it is. Word on the scientific street is that most people with OCD are pretty intelligent. Not saying I’m smart… I’m just relaying what studies have found.

But the silliest things cause me anxiety.

Here is a small list (because I love lists) of prime examples that make me cringe, and I will literally put everything down and make solving these “problems” my number one priority.

  1. My notebooks are different colors. (They must be hot pink. All the time.)
  2. My planner is not up to date (I carry it with me, just in case I need to write something down.)
  3. My fingernails are painted and my toes are not (or vice versa.)
  4. I don’t know the answer to a question (This happens all the time, thank you Siri.)
  5. My phone is out of battery. (How am I supposed to look up the answer to a question if Siri can’t help me?)

So I bet you’re thinking “Why? Those are so stupid!” YES I KNOW THAT, OKAY? I DON’T KNOW WHY. I know these are not life-threatening problems. Hell, they are not even problems. But its hard to convince myself of that, when I look at those notebooks and one is pink and one is purple, and I just cannot stand it- my chest tightens, my heart rate goes up, I break into a cold sweat. I MUST GET TO TARGET RIGHT AWAY.

You may wonder how am I fairing on the relationship front with my issue? Well friends, there is a thing called “catastrophizing that us OCD-ers like to do, and this seems to really cramp my style. For example, lets say I send a witty joking text to my potential new bae. But then I think to myself… wait what if he doesn’t get my joke? And then he will think I’m weird. And then he won’t respond. And then he will stop talking to me forever. And then I will lose the love of my life and end up living alone until I die. So forget the double text, I am a quadruple text offender on the reg. It lessens my anxiety in the moment, but potential new bae ends up peacing everytime because he thinks I’m a psycho.

And maybe I am — I go back and forth between trying to love myself and trying to change myself. Being all “Yay! OCD! Self-acceptance!” and “What the hell is wrong with you? Why can’y you be normal?” Sometimes it’s both of these at the same time and this is where it gets really hard — accepting myself while simultaneously morphing into someone that can identify irrational fears and resist my urge to act on them and get out of bed, even though I want nothing more than to hide.

I’m 23 now, and I can say that is has gotten easier. I don’t know if it has gotten better, but every time I’m in a funk there’s a piece of me that knows that the rash will subside, and I’ll be able sit down and breath again. However, it will always be there, and I can be angry and hate myself for being like this or I can choose to accept it. I can accept my quadruple-texting self, work on resisting my compulsions, and living my life the best way I know how-  growing (though sometimes rather painfully) into a better me