What is OCD?

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

When you think of OCD you probably are thinking of a super clean room or an overly organized bookshelf? Truth is, there is so much more to it than needing everything to be in a certain order and clean. Honestly, those who know me, know my room is not always the most organized place and they’re probably laughing as they read that! But I still have OCD.

OCD is unwanted thoughts that end up leading to repetitive behaviors (compulsions) that are out of that person’s control and in my case, cause me anxiety. Time and time again I see posts online or hear people saying, “My OCD just came out and I cleaned the whole house”. But the science behind OCD is that it comes in many different forms, all of which are completely draining, time consuming and affect the lives of those who suffer in so many ways.

ocd test

*The difference between this test and the mind of someone who suffers is, unlike that middle dot, we can’t just move the thoughts in our mind to align perfectly and then everything is just fine. 

For me, it all started at a young age. I remember constantly washing my hands fearing that I touched something that would harm me. It got to the point where my hands would get all red, dry and uncomfortable, but I still needed to wash my hands many times throughout the day. I also needed to run my toothbrush under hot water for 30 seconds each time I brushed my teeth to make sure all the germs were gone. Now, it wasn’t always symptoms that people can see, as I got older, I developed a compulsive fear of being alone, along with the need to constantly touch things a certain way or a certain amount of times. But I didn’t want people to know because I was embarrassed, so I would do everything I could to fulfill my compulsions without others knowing. Even if it meant waiting for people to go to bed so I can walk in and out of a room a certain amount of times to feel better or making an excuse to go back to another side of a room to touch something again.

I never understood why I had to perform these behaviors, but as I got older some went away and others I just learned to deal with. Still, to this day, I touch my bed three time before I get into bed at night. I’m not ashamed to admit that either! It’s sometimes fun, I’ll touch it twice and then jump into bed on the third touch.  You should try it! But there are some nights where I forget, and I am ok, but when I remember, I need to do this to feel good. Sound crazy? Good! Cause it seems pretty crazy to me too, but it’s me and it’s something I have to deal with and so many other have to deal with as well.

Then there are times when I get a thought in my head that makes no sense, but I start to panic trying to understand. Those who suffer I’m sure you can relate? This thought can linger for days or weeks and come and go, causing me to have panic attacks and days where I can’t do things I usually do. But over the years I have accepted that this is a part of me and I have found ways to cope. For instance, I try to always keep my mind busy. Whether it’s by exercising, reading a book, writing or simply talking to someone, these help me cope and get through it. I really found that the best medicine is not medicine at all, but acceptance. Just simply having someone to talk too, even if it has nothing to do with what I am thinking, just striking up a conversation to distract my mindset helps me realign into a better state of mind.

So, whether you experience symptoms like me or are suffering in an entirely different way, know that you do not have to suffer alone. There are many ways to cope and though one way may work for one and not the other, you need to know you are strong and will be ok. Take a walk, write a book, or talk to a therapist, its ok and there is no shame in help.

xoxo Lizzy

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