The misuse/overuse of this word drives me absolutely up the wall. “I’m SO OCD over my floors being clean!” “Oh, I KNOW, I’m SO OCD over that!” “Oh, you have OCD? I know how that is, I can’t STAND things out of place!”
OCD is not a verb. OCD is not just a cleaning illness. Its not just a counting illness. Its not just a hoarding illness. Its alot more than that. Alot darker. Trust me. You’re not “OCD” over anything. Let me explain to you a few branches of it.
- OCD at its best is driving halfway back across town because you swear you left the oven on and your house is going to burn down, and being late for your mandatory office meeting.
- At its quirkiest its chewing your food exactly 28 times, even when its something that requires about 4 chews.
- Time consuming when you have to go through the same routine every day before leaving: OK! Lights, wallet, phone, keys, lock the door. Check for wallet, check for phone, check for keys, check door. Get to car. Go back check the door. Go back inside, check for the lights. Lock the door. Go back to car, panic, go back to door, check door. Panic more, check for keys, because you’re sure they’re in the house. Go back to car. Did I leave the wallet when I went inside? Where’d my phone go? Are the keys in the door still? Is the coffee pot on? I left the door to the car open when I went in the house, did someone get in the car? Is everything in the car still? Did I forget to shut the kitchen window?
- Having to buy everything in pairs. Even things you don’t need in pairs. Which takes up room, and uses up money you may need for something else.
- Of course, the one everyone knows: Hoarding. Those crazy OCD people and their hoarding!
Now let me branch out to a few of them you may or may not have heard about.
- Contamination. I’m sure you could store this under “cleaning” but let me just go a little in depth here. I have a bottle of hand sanitizer in every room. In my purse. If I leave the house without it, or run out, I buy one while I am gone. I use it over 100 times a day. I use it whenever I touch ANYTHING. I will not use cloth napkins. I will not use a normal napkin more than once. I will not touch anyone ELSES napkin. (Or towel, or washcloth.) I don’t eat at buffet style restaurants in “sick” season (Oct-Apr). I try not to leave my house but for emergencies from Nov-Mar. If you are sick, you are not allowed near me. If you have been sick, or AROUND someone who has been sick, in the past week, you are not allowed around me. If you start to FEEL sick around me, you need to leave. I will then starve myself for two days to make sure that I am not sick. I will not eat any kind of meat unless it is completely charred. If there is any kind of pink to it, I will not touch it, let alone eat it. I will not eat any left overs past three days. Two, if it’s meat. I will not eat restaurant food left overs after a day. If I shower, I will not go near anything dirty the rest of the day. During christmas shopping season, I see visually every sneeze and cough that comes by me. I don’t touch anything I don’t need to. I stay away from people as much as possible.
- The “feel” of dirt on me has caused me to shave my head repeatedly. I can’t stand the feel of dirty hair. And if I wash it multiple times a day and it still feels dirty? It’s got to go. I will also literally get very very grouchy if I feel dirty. The only thing that makes it better is a very extensive shower.
- Intrusive thoughts. This one just kills me. Ever constantly feel like youre going to turn on a light and a demon will be there? Or that you’re SUPPOSED to jump out of the car at 80 mph and it takes everything in you not to do it? That someone else is in your body besides you, and you can’t figure out how to get them out. You’re pretty sure you die a few times a day, and that now, you’re just living in the next dimension, continuing on. Stopping at a stop light is especially traumatic. The people next to you are going to either hi jack you, or shoot you. They also may be dead. I think about being shot alot while Im driving. It makes me not stay at red lights. I will turn to get away from them, go out of my way, many miles, and pissing off my husband considerably. What if someone doesnt stop and rams into me at 50 and kills me? Or they shoot me? I’m a sitting duck at red lights. And stop signs. And TRAINS. I stop and create a bubble so far around me at a train, so I can have a possible escape route incase anything may happen. Sometimes, when you’re sitting next to a window, and it takes everything in you NOT to try to put your head through the glass. Its also really hard when your mom lives on the fourth floor, and all you want to do is jump off the balcony when you’re there. Not because you’re suicidal. Just because it’s there.
- Symmetry and ticks, and avoidance. Have you ever saw the youtube video of the poetry slam of the man with OCD? And he ticks? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vnKZ4pdSU-s I have tried for 20 years to explain what those ticks feel like and why you have to do them. It feels like a strange energy is there and you have to acknowledge it X amount of times until it disappears. Its not just head turning, either. Its also, feet going back to touch, arms swinging backwards to touch, you name it. And if I’m in an unfamiliar place? Forget it. I look like I’m having random seizures. Head ticks, foot ticks, arm ticks. My husband is used to them. If theyre real bad, I have to go back and walk the same path a few times. Overhead lights, I really hate them. I look like I’m headbanging or something in stores. I also apparently stare at them and don’t notice, but that may be a whole other thing entirely.
- Food and eating. Food is a major obstacle. We will put aside the fact I am a recovering anorexic who is now a binge eater, and concentrate merely on the food itself. I can’t eat ALOT of food due to texture. Due to color combination. (A yellow tomato? What?) Cooking practice. Who has handled it before me. Who has had access to it before me. Family get togethers almost never happen for me if there is food unless I can see the food nonstop and see how its been touched before I get there. I will avoid food that has been touched. The texture of food really limits what I can eat. I am 31 and JUST NOW started to cook. I have to wear gloves when I cook and cross contamination of ANY kind about puts me into a bad panic attack. I ate mostly boxed and frozen food that required little to no preperation because I was not ready to deal with touching food. I am terrified of food poisioning. Or of someone poisioning my food.
Mind you, this article is hardly complete. This is just a sampling of my day. I’m sure I’m forgetting many things. But please, the next time you tell me how “OMG OCD” you are about something… kindly remember this and realize that you sound like a giant douchebag to those who ACTUALLY suffer a real DISEASE. OCD is not some stupid thing that happens. I have lost MANY jobs over it. I can’t touch almost anything that someone else has touched. Do you realize how hard that is to work ANYWHERE? I’ve been on disability for a myriad of psychiatric conditions over half my life. OCD rules my life, everyday, in every way.