Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a mental health issue. It is not hating mess, wanting your pencils lined up or liking things clean. OCD is the all-encompassing obsession that keeps you up at night and gives you severe anxiety about non-existent consequences.
Everyone’s experience and behaviours are different. This is my experience.
I grew up in the South West of England, imagine rolling green hills and frequent run-ins with livestock-related traffic. It was quiet and very back country, what’s normal was normal and anything different was weird.
So when I started locking and unlocking doors every day before school, touching each side of a doorframe before entering room and splitting my sweets into colours and designating them their own plastic bag, people started noticing.
There were stares and whispers from school kids as they watched me go about my routine every morning before school’s first lesson, but this was only the beginning. School kids are mean.
There are times when this condition is debilitating, I’ve been through numerous treatments including CBT, hypnotherapy, SSRIs and clomipramine. There were days when my mother wept as I scrubbed my skin so hard that it bled, there were nights where I was two hours late because I had to check the door was locked over and over again.
I think the biggest change in my OCD behaviour came with my boys. They provide me with a solid grounding that I’ve never had before, my world was no longer overshadowed with OCD – because it was overshadowed by them.
Don’t get me wrong, it always lurks. I have my set routines that may differ from a ‘normal’ parent. It will always be a part of me and I have no shame in that. I just see it as another test from God to prove me strong.
I’m going to leave you with this quote from Minister and author David Adam in his book The Man Who Couldn’t Stop, an intense and emotional look at living with intrusive thoughts. Definitely something to think about next time you exclaim ‘I hate mess! I’m so OCD!’
“People who live with OCD drag a metal sea anchor around. Obsession is a break, a source of drag, not a badge of creativity, a mark of genius or an inconvenient side effect of some greater function.”