This is a re-post. I wrote it when I first started this blog. Since I mainly write about life with ocd, I figured I should explain it in better detail. This post is meant to educate and spread awareness.
First off, I am not a medical professional. What you are reading is what I have either personally researched or have personally gone through.
I decided to write about this because I recently relized that not many people know what OCD is. Also, I have heard the phrase “I’m so OCD” about a thousand times. Usually by someone that doesn’t quite know the meaning.
As most of you already know, I am a longtime OCD sufferer. So in my opinion, who better to get a finer understanding of the illness then from someone who lives with it?
Some people think OCD is when a person has to have things done or placed a certain way. They think people with OCD have a hard time when things aren’t perfect and are out of place. They also think people with ocd wash their hands a couple more times than others do. Even though this may be correct, I’m here to tell you it is also much much worse than that.
I’m going to try and explain it in my own words, plain and simple without all the medical terminology. Once again, I am NOT a medical professional.
Ocd stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Obsessions are unwanted thoughts, images, or urges. Compulsions are the things we (someone with ocd) do to get rid of the thoughts. These thoughts are usually accompanied by extreme fear, doubt, and guilt causing us to do things in a repetitive behavior.
To give a better understanding or an example, an OCD sufferer may have a “thought” that something terrible will happen to themselves, or a loved one, if they don’t “tap” an object a certain number of times. That thought is so strong and so intense, they will continue to touch or tap until the feeling lessens or until it “feels right”. They can continue with this behavior from 2 to 100 times……or in some cases, more. Others may make their bed a number of times. Some may need to wash their hair or hands repeatedly in order to feel clean.
Giving in and doing these things is usually referred to as “rituals“. Another great example of ocd behaviors are the mental compulsions. Someone will repeat a “good” thought, a single word, even picture an image, over and over in order to get rid of the bad thoughts.
Some OCD sufferers like me for instance , engage in these behaviors throughout the day. The more I “give in” the harder it is for me to resist it the next time.
Anyone can get OCD, it does not matter your age, sex, or race.
Keep in mind that those are just a few examples.
There are many more varieties of OCD. From what I have learned through my own research and experience is there are different categories with OCD. Some experience contamination issues, some struggle with health related OCD, there’s also religious, and even harm OCD. Some of us have “good” and “bad” numbers. There are many more sub-types. One may struggle with one form, and others may struggle with all.
I know you might be wondering why can’t we just do things one time, or why can’t we just ignore the thought. It’s just not that easy. The thought is so powerful and extremely strong and very very irritating.
Deep down we know everything will be ok, we know doing something repeatedly doesn’t make sense and its not going to change anything, but the OCD tells us otherwise, and that makes us unsure. OCD sufferers can’t handle unsure or uncertainty.
Some people spend a few hours, and some will spend all day giving into the OCD or the “rituals”. It causes a lot of stress and anxiety in someone’s life. It can be extremely exhausting and in some cases even debilitating.
In my case, my OCD is there all day. Meaning, all day I’m doing rituals. All day I repeat, repeat, and repeat, leaving me very tired and sometimes irritable.
In my opinion, the best way to treat OCD is with medication and therapy. The most effective type of therapy is called Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT). More specifically, the best type of CBT is called Exposure and Response Prevention. (ERP).
ERP is usually done with a licensed mental health professional although some people like myself have tried it on their own, which I don’t really recommend unless you think you don’t need a professional.
There is so much more to know and learn. I just gave a small definition. If you or someone you know has OCD, or if you want more information, I highly recommend checking out the International Ocd Foundation (IOCDF) website. https://iocdf.org/ as well as speaking to your medical provider.
If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness, please Reach Out, Speak Up, And Ask For Help. Nobody should go through it alone.