” *walking* 1 2 3 4 5… rest… 1 2 3 4 5…rest…1 2 3 4 5…rest…”
” *leafs crunching* 1 2 3… 1 2 3… 1 2 3… 1 2 3… 1 2 3… 1 2 3… 1 2 3… 1 2 3… 1 2 3…”
” *hold breath* 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9… breath now…”
” *steps on orange or crack* 2, 3…”
” blink 27 times. If you don’t they will find you.”
“Sing every word on the screen or something bad will happen.”
“lock, unlock, lock, unlock, lock, unlock…”
” *messed up word* re-write it two more times… that makes three…”
“There’s an ambulance. Someone probably is hurt or sick because I stepped on that crack earlier. It’s all my fault”
“What if she’s hurt? If I step on that then she might get kidnapped!”
“Okay, you looked at the sign once, look two more times so the bad guys don’t know where you and your family is.”
” *tapping* 1 2 3… 1 2 3… 1 2 3 ”
” I’m sorry… I’m sorry… I’m sorry…”
“Skip bottom step… skip next to last/top step…”
Bizzare, right? I mean, who on earth thinks those things? Who would every worry about that? Who has a voice in their head constantly telling them those crazy things? They must be insane.
Oh, Who? Me! And 2-3 million more people, all of different races, genders, religions, etc!
Those are actual thoughts that go through my head on a daily, if not hourly, basis.
Every time I walk. Every time I go up/down steps. Every time I accidentally step on a crack or orange. Every time I mess up while writing a word. Every time a look at the kidnapper sign on my street. Every time I need to lock a door. Every time I think I did something bad/wrong. Every time I am singing a song a church. Every time someone coughs/sneezes/ breaths loudly near me. Every time.
Now imagine what it’s like? Just try to imagine how it feels to constantly be anxious about something, or everything for that matter. Imagine having all these rather bizarre thoughts going through your head. You can’t, can you? It’s practically impossible for someone without OCD to imagine what its like to live like that. That is just a glimpse into a day with the torture of living with OCD. Of having to fight every second of the day to get victory over your own mind. Just a glimpse.
In my life a multitude of people have stigmatized, or misused OCD. Many people, when they think of OCD, immediately think either germaphobe, perfectionist, being overly obsessed with something or someone, liking things a specific way, or being extremely neat/organized. This is all but true. While many people misuse OCD by saying, “Oh, I’m so OCD,” or, “yeah, I’m super OCD about ‘x’. Most people initially think OCD is an adjective- a word used to describe something or someone when, as a matter of fact, OCD is an actual mental disorder than millions of people all over the globe struggle with. Imagine that!
Let’s get this straight. OCD is short for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. By the Merriam-Webster Dictionary OCD is, “an anxiety disorder characterized by recurrent obsessions or compulsions or both that cause significant distress, are time-consuming or interfere with normal daily functioning, and are recognized by the individual affected as excessive or unreasonable.”
An obsession is a repeated distressing thought, normally intrusive (meaning it comes without desire or any trigger) and is usually unreasonable and irrational. Common obsessions are contamination, unwanted sexual thoughts, losing control, religious obsessions, fear of harming oneself or others, superstitious beliefs, etc…
-fear of crowds
-thinking you will get deadly sick from certain things
-fear of losing control
-fear of being contaminated by germs or dirt or contaminating others
-fear of losing control and harming yourself or others
-intrusive sexually explicit or violent thoughts and images
-excessive focus on religious or moral ideas
-fear of losing or not having things you might need
-order and symmetry: the idea that everything must line up “just right”
-superstitions; excessive attention to something considered lucky or unlucky
A compulsion is an action/behavior that someone with OCD believes will relieve the anxiety, which it normally does temporarily.
-avoiding certain people, objects, colors, etc
-walking or moving certain ways
-mentally reviewing events
-excessive double-checking of things, such as locks, appliances, and switches
-repeatedly checking in on loved ones to make sure they’re safe
-counting, tapping, repeating certain words, or doing other senseless things to reduce anxiety
-spending a lot of time washing or cleaning
-ordering or arranging things “just so”
-praying excessively or engaging in rituals triggered by religious fear
-accumulating “junk” such as old newspapers or empty food containers
Causes of OCD
Causes of OCD are, for example, inflated responsibility, need to control thoughts, overestimation of threat, perfectionism, and intolerance to uncertainty. More environmental factors can be going through brain trauma, a severe disease or infection, stress, and parenting styles.
Here are a few of the hundreds of possible symptoms of OCD.
Behavioral- compulsive behaviors, agitation, hoarding, impulsivity, and repetition of words or movements.
Mood- anxiety, dread of certain events, unreasonable guilt, and panic attacks
Psychological- depression, fear, going over thoughts
Other- food avoidances, nightmares
Now, many people think that just because they do some of these compulsions, have some of these thoughts or fears, or suffer from these symptoms that they must have OCD. This is not true. DSM-5, or Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, has a specific criteria that most if not all therapist and specialist go by. You have to be professionally diagnosed. The criteria is as follows:
Among the treatments for OCD are…
-CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
-ERP (Exposure Response Prevention)
-Medication (generally SRI’s, which are Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors, help treat both OCD and commonly co-occuring depression)
Some Basic Facts
-Scientist have not yet found a cure for OCD.
-Can be chronic or last up to multiple years
-2.3% (roughly) of the population have OCD.
-The typical onset of OCD is between ages 8-12 and between late teens and early adulthood.
1 out of every 100 adults and 1 of every 200 children are estimated to have OCD. According to http://www.iocdf.org , that’s roughly the amount of people living in Houston, Texas (for the adults alone). There is around 2 to 3 million adults who have OCD is the US alone. Around 500,00 kids have OCD which is about the number of kids who have OCD. An average of 20 kids will have OCD in a medium to large high school or middle school and 4-5 in a typical elementary school.
http://www.iocdf.org also states, “Here is one way to think about what having OCD is like:
Imagine that your mind got stuck
on a certain thought or image…
Then this thought or image got replayed in your mind
no matter what you did…
You don’t want these thoughts — it feels like an avalanche…
Along with the thoughts come intense feelings of anxiety…
Anxiety is your brain’s alarm system. When you feel anxious, it feels like you are in danger. Anxiety is an emotion that tells you to respond, react, protect yourself, DO SOMETHING!
On the one hand, you might recognize that the fear doesn’t make sense, doesn’t seem reasonable, yet it still feels very real, intense, and true…
Why would your brain lie?
Why would you have these feelings if they weren’t true? Feelings don’t lie… Do they?
Unfortunately, if you have OCD, they do lie. If you have OCD, the warning system in your brain is not working correctly. Your brain is telling you that you are in danger when you are not.
When scientists compare pictures of the brains of groups of people with OCD, they can see that some areas of the brain are different than the brains of people who don’t have OCD.
Those tortured with OCD are desperately trying to get away from paralyzing, unending anxiety…”
OCD is a paralyzing disorder.
OCD is NOT a way to describe yourself or someone else who is either a) obsessed with something (ex. Obsessive Christmas Disorder), b) a perfectionist, tidy, or super organized, or c) someone who like things a certain way.
OCD is NOT to be used like, “If you know someone who is OCD, they may want you to do your report a certain way.”
OCD is NOT a way to describe someone, for example, “If someone is super OCD about germs…”
OCD is NOT an adjective; it is a mental disorder that millions of people around the globe are tortured by.
It is extremely offensive to suffers when someone stigmatizes and misuses OCD!
OCD is no different than cancer, diabetes, a failing heart, etc. OCD just affects a different organ.
That being said, PLEASE be aware of your words and be kind to those who already have to fight a battle they (we) didn’t chose to fight every second of every day for the rest of our life.