I’ve discussed my issues with anxiety and mental health before. I’ve also shared my therapy journey and eating disorder struggles. Today, I want to be open about something I don’t mention often. I think that I don’t talk about it often, because of the way it’s gets thrown around or misunderstood.
I have OCD- obsessive compulsive disorder. I don’t talk about it, because I get tired of people saying they have OCD because they are organizational or enjoy cleaning. OCD isn’t just a habit. It can consist of having obsessive thoughts and/or compulsive, behaviors that repeat. Some people can even have both obsessions and compulsions, which can be life altering.
This isn’t some bad habit like nail biting or lip chewing. It goes deeper than that. This disorder can affect your life in a major way, because it’s not just something you can stop or control. If you genuinely believe you have OCD, I’d suggest speaking to a behavioral therapist. It really helped me to understand myself after years of not knowing what was going on with me.
I want to just break down the misconceptions I hear sometimes. I have one friend in particular who likes to clean and is always using OCD as the reason, but she doesn’t have the disorder. She just really enjoys a clean closet. I’m always trying to explain what it really is, but it goes unheard. OCD isn’t about a love of color coordinating closets or a distaste for clutter.
- Everyone is a little OCD.
- OCD means being a germaphobe- There are different categories and types of OCD, but not liking germs doesn’t necessarily mean your have the disorder. Who likes germs anyway?
- OCD is a disorder about being neat and clean in general.
- OCD is a choice.
My Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
All my life, numbers have felt like they controlled me. I had to do certain things a specific number of times or I would panic. I’d get physically sick and nervous if I didn’t touch something a number of times. I would pace a certain number of times before actually getting to a task. The smallest upset to my routines would cause me to have mood swings, and sometimes I would feel paralyzed. It was just a hodgepodge of mental illness that I was very ashamed of until I saw a therapist. Even very few family members and friends know about it. They just assume I’m difficult or a clean freak, which is why I don’t always open up about it.
I learned that there are many forms of OCD, and I most likely have more than one. A good article to read is this one. It mentions misconceptions as well as types. It also talks about Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder, which often gets confused with OCD.
For me, I do also have an issue with cleaning and perfectionism. I know something is done right, but I have to keep doing it anyway until I feel relief. My hands suffer the most. I’m always touching, bumping, and scrubbing. As a blind SAHM, my hands are my eyes most of the time, so when I have my typical household duties and I’m also having a difficult day with my compulsions, my hands can end up bleeding.
I do feel the need to clean, and if I don’t wipe something down a certain number of times or go over a spot a certain way, I have to start all over until the pattern is completed. Patterns and this need that I feel aren’t just with cleaning though, so that’s where the confusion with OCD and OCPD (obsessive compulsive personality disorder) can happen.
As a blind person, cleaning is also a safety issue, and I would hate to perpetuate the cleaning OCD stereotype. Parts of my cleaning and routine are associated with my OCD, and other parts deal with my vision. If my house isn’t decluttered, I could get hurt. If someone sets down something that isn’t kid appropriate that I don’t know about and can’t see, my kids could get hurt. So, I clean for multiple reasons.
I’ve actually written this post a few times, and then, I would delete it. It took my son pointing out all the band-aides on my fingers to get the courage to write this. I’m always worried I will aid in the misconception that OCD is just a cleaning disorder. I can promise you that it’s bigger than wanting clean counters and dust nicknacks.
Numbers took hold of me with more than just needing to check locks or touch something so many times. Patterns needed to be completed, or I would feel unbalanced and out of control. I became obsessed with my weight in terms of numbers too. I could put numbers to anything, and it would take hold of me.
I missed a lot of classes in college, because I couldn’t leave my apartment without doing certain things a specific way and number of times. It was easy to simply tell everyone I was sick, since it literally made me feel sick and exhausted.
I’ve tried more medication than I could count- for once a number I didn’t keep track of. To be honest, nothing has ever helped me the way CBD oil has. CBD oil is legal here, and I am beyond thankful for that. It makes me feel more at ease. It doesn’t stop the need I feel to do certain things, but it takes away the overwhelming sick feeling. It helps slow me down and let’s me attempt to rationalize with myself. I know it’s not a cure all, but it’s definitely helped with managing the anxiety that comes with it.
I’ve learned a great deal about myself and my mental health these last few years. Being a mom has taught me a strength I never knew I could have, but that doesn’t mean I can control my OCD. I do my best to stay on top of things, and my husband is an amazing support system. I just learned to accept myself and the way I’m programmed.
Sometimes, I am guilty of laughing about my beat up hands and joke about my cleaning and OCD. It’s easier to hide my struggle and frustration with humor, but I know it’s not always the best way to spread awareness or be honest. So, here I am, admitting another “flaw” in my system.
I love myself, flaws and all. They make me who I am. I wouldn’t necessarily describe myself as strong, but at the same time, I would. I believe that I live the best life I could even with my mental illness.
We live to survive and flourish, and I do that whether my I have mental illness or not. Like I said, I’ve tried to post this before and even during the weeks where mental illness awareness is taking place, but I’m running low on band-aides and my fingers are sore. So, I finally wrote this.
I’d love to hear from y’all about any struggles you’ve overcome with mental illness. There’s no judgment here.