It is very common to hear people throw around the term, “I am a little OCD about XYZ.” It is also common for people to think that people with OCD are just obsessed with organizing and cleaning things. This is a very dangerous opinion to hold and makes OCD sufferers ashamed and scared to admit what is going on.
Take it from me, someone with a debilitating case of OCD, my house is not organized, and my silverware drawer has forks in the spoon section, so… not so much.
While some with OCD will organize things or clean things… it is NOT OCD unless you are doing these things in some attempt to minimize or get rid of a horrible and terrifying thought, that you fear could happen if you do not do these things. If that is the case, you have OCD.
OCD also manifests itself differently in everyone who has it. There are not specific thoughts common to all sufferers. OCD tends to attack things most important to the sufferer. Therefore, the things you care about the most, are the ones it sends terrifying thoughts about. For instance, when I was little, I was scared that if I did not tap on my desks and surfaces at school an even a number of times, a fire might happen at my house. When I had kids, it “leveled up” and my fears became the most terrifying of all.
I have been dealing with OCD since I was 7 (that is when I first remember it). I am now 42. That is a LONG ass time! It has come in waves, but for the last two years, I have been dealing with the most debilitating version of OCD, and it surrounds protecting my kids and myself. I sometimes could not get out of my house or even get dressed. My compulsions are repetitive, and I think that if I have an intrusive thought, I can somehow erase the thought by re-doing the thing I was doing when I had the thought. Like a rewind of sorts. My logical brain knows this is a false premise, but OCD is a wicked mistress and still gets me. I am getting better, but I may or may not have erased and re-wrote some of this post even now.
If you are dealing with OCD, please know that you are NOT alone. I am in a rural location, and only recently found good help because COVID opened up doors to telehealth and I was able to find some great therapists out of Pittsburgh. If you are not in an area with clinicians trained in dealing with OCD, please check out NOCD app and the OCD Stories podcast. These were beacons of light for me. Also, the book, Brain Lock is super helpful. I am not sharing these or linking them as advertisements. I just feel that I should share with you the things that helped me the most.
There is still little out there for OCD. There is much more now than before, but many therapists are not trained in OCD specifically. They treat it as an anxiety disorder and lump it in with many other types of anxiety, but it is NOT that! I will do a post on that later, but you cannot “talk” through OCD. Your past is irrelevant where OCD is concerned. I am not cheapening any horrible things that may have happened to you – those are important, but to get through OCD, you cannot reason with it or talk through it or even understand it. My red flag with therapists was always whenever they would try to “reason” with my OCD thoughts. NOPE! You need to find someone who truly gets the cycle to help you defeat it!