Obsessive compulsive disorder is made up of obsessions and compulsions which are typically followed by many unwanted ideas, thoughts images, and feelings.
Some people think they have obsessive compulsive disorder just because that they are unable to walk on the cross walk or, or do something a certain way because it just doesn’t “feel right” or “look right”.
Let’s break it down. When many individuals without OCD cross a street, they’re typically able to walk over the lines without any thought. If I am getting ready to cross the street, I’ll look down, walk around the cluster of lines, and stand next to one on the end. If I end up stepping on the line, my body automatically feels physically stuck., like the hairs on my arms go up, or, the person I’m with is going to trip and get hurt, or I will not be able to cross the street if I have to keep touching the line. For many years I’ll continue to keep avoiding specific surfaces, and for two years I have worked closely with my OCD specialist and came across many exposure therapy plans, and I would have to intentionally keep my head up towards the other cars and people around me, while I stepped on the lines, and walked over triggering surfaces as I believed in something bad happening.
Obsessive compulsive disorder is far more than a pet peeve. Living with obsessive compulsive disorder can interfere with many daily tasks. An irrational fear typically doesn’t make any sense and a person diagnosed with OCD usually does something to try to “get rid” of the thought, fear, image or obsession. There are multiple types, health anxiety, intrusive thoughts, contamination, emotional contamination, obsessive cleaning, etc. There are some things that I’ve struggled with since I was a young child, and other things that I’ve been able to move forward in a positive direction and continue to make a life worth living.
At age 4 or 5, I had an irrational fear of glass ketchup bottles. Growing up I truly thought that they were going to attack me, with arms and eyes, and that it was poison. I had avoided them and would not use them, I also was afraid of other people using them, but everybody always told me to just get over it, pick them up and stop being so afraid of them. As I would continue not to touch them, I would cry a little bit and believe that something bad may happen to me.
In 2014, I went to McLean Hospital and was faced with many of the things that I typically avoided or obsessed over. I had to hold glass ketchup bottles, look at them, carry them places with me, and eventually eat from them. It was not easy, but I ended up taking a leap of faith and just doing it, it was then when I was able to engage in exposure and response therapy, which made a huge difference in how I responded to obsessions, rituals, fear and anxiety. I have actually finished eating from two glass ketchup bottles and have actually decorated them, and brought them to life, added google eyes and arms and fabric dresses.
I also want to point out that I have came a long way in being able to recognize different OCD behaviors and obsessions, feelings, and thoughts. I have also been able to sit with my anxiety, let it rise. I now engage in an activity that may be able to enjoy while I am having an obsession or something along those lines anyways.
Sometimes I engage in different rituals and behaviors because I feel that something bad will happen to me or someone I love. Sometimes people think that because they engage in a weird behavior, count to certain numbers, repeat words or phrases, avoid certain people or places, that they suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder. A person who is diagnosed with OCD must perform certain behaviors or avoidances.
Many times I have walked over rugs of different shapes and colors, avoided walking on specific colored tiles or decided not to walk on the white lines in a cross walk. That’s not just because it bothers me, but it means that something bad will happen to the person who I’m with, or near, it doesn’t “feel right”, it does not My therapist, Dr. S., will tell me to “just look up”, when I walk. It isn’t easy but I do it, most times. I have come a long way, and some days are easier than others.
I used to count by two’s and even numbers, and listen to the blinker and the clock clicking back and fourth, wash my hands obsessively and be afraid of my own thoughts that never made any sense. Obsessive compulsive disorder Is really a debilitating disability and many times I feel as though I am limited at what I can and cannot do. I have overcome many different obstacles. I am able to use bars of soap now, and I don’t think it will wash away my positive personality. I can look at a clock and tell somebody the time, without ritualizing and counting the numbers repetitively.
I am now able to recognize different behaviors that I engage in and take up time or get in my way. I have had many struggles with OCD and sometimes I don’t believe that I’ll be able to overcome many things, as I have been able to move forward in life, I will share my struggles and positive ways that I’ve been able to step in front of OCD instead of letting it walk all over me.
I’m now able to work at a part time job, which consists of grown adults with developmental disabilities. A few years ago I was stuck with the idea of emotional contamination. This being said, that, someone in contact with me who has a physical or developmental disability, I would ‘catch’ it from the person, as my personality would change for the worse, and I would be ‘emotionally contaminated’ for life.
OCD is very stressful at times, and overwhelming but at the same time there are many types of treatment in order to function, work, and be an advocate for all.
While I have dealt with many issues and struggles I have continued to stop figuring things out and try to live according to my values.
Writing about my experiences and background may help me continue to move forward along with inspiring others. I am open to any and all types of questions. I am ready to make a difference in somebody else’s life and I can only do so if I am able to take a leap of faith. Every moment is a different experience but it is a moment in which I can choose to do something in order to make a change not only for myself but for others.
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Learn more about nOCD and our mission to revolutionize OCD treatment at Treatmyocd.com.