Let me first begin with stating that my website, is not about OCD. My hopes that if I can get my message out there I can help someone else out.
When you have OCD you don’t have many quiet moments in your head. For me, OCD is often like a song playing over and over in a loop. Only the song isn’t a happy pop song.
Well…sometimes it is. But, I’ll get to that later.
The thoughts aren’t about me doing bad things, but they’re never pleasant. Most obsessions are based on deep fears — “What if I or someone I love gets sick?” — or basically the worst things one can think of, like blasphemy, racism, suicide, murder, rape, contamination, animal abuse, politics, torture … and the thoughts are often things I can never control.
Here is something that people with OCD can tell you-you are usually NOT a neat freak! Some of you might remember the show Monk, about a private eye whose OCD makes him a brilliant detective. I never felt as if I was being represented when watching the show because – COMPULSIONS DIFFER!
OCD doesn’t necessarily mean you’re neat and particular. Those of you into reality shows: Have you ever seen that show Hoarders? Hoarding is often a symptom of OCD. Compulsions vary. Sometimes they correspond to fears, like washing your hands because you’re scared of contamination. Sometimes there’s no real logic behind them, like when you have to jump over a line on the floor because otherwise everybody you know will die horribly and it will be all your fault. Or, like Hannah Horvath from Girls describing herself having to masterbate 8 times a night to starve off diseases of the mind and body.
Many don’t have physical compulsions at all, instead suffering from “purely obsessional” OCD, where all they have are obsessions. And some people with diagnosed OCD even obsessively doubt the fact that they have OCD. How’s that for a mindfuck?
OCD, at heart, is an anxiety disorder.
People who suffer from OCD know that there is something wrong with them. One of the many differences between OCDers and people who are just “quirky” — besides a role on a major sitcom — is shame. Let’s be clear: If you regularly check your pockets to confirm that you’ve still got your car keys, or if you prefer your sandwiches with the crust cut off, or if you only eat red Starbursts, you’re not suffering from OCD. Those are just quirks, and also the pink Starburst is obviously the best. People like quirks when they’re cute, fun, and harmless. When they involve licking light switches or hitting yourself over the head with your shoe, people just think you’re “crazy.”
But you’ll believe it of yourself as well. You’ll be standing in your bathroom at three in the morning, scrubbing your pocket change because you’ve been awake for hours wondering if it could contaminate your clothes and make you a danger to the people around you, and you’ll be unable to stop, but you’ll know that what you’re doing is crazy.
OCD is “ego dystonic,” which means “out of sync with your ideal self. OCDers don’t even get any joy out of their compulsions. You don’t want to make sure the door is locked 25 times in one night, you have to. It makes you feel better. It makes you feel so good! It’s a relief from the constant thoughts in your brain. But, the relief is only temporary.
Sadly, it’s rarely just OCD. For example, I am also diagnosed with panic attacks, generalized anxiety disorder, and depression. Panic attacks, Tourette syndrome, hypochondria, body dysmorphic disorder, and eating disorders are all so-called OCD sister disorders. Meaning, they are all on the same spectrum. They’re diagnoses in their own right that exist on their own but also hang around in the background while OCD messes with your mind.
OCD also often coexists with depression. This is partly because of chemicals and genetics, and also because constant obsessing and feeling forced to keep everything you’ve ever owned to the point of isolation can be pretty fucking depressing. Studies show that having OCD from an early age tends to make you more susceptible to depression because it wears on you so much.
Dr. Anne Marie Albano, clinical site director of New York-Presbyterian’s Youth Anxiety Center, and a leading voice in child anxiety research, has found that the condition often takes root around age four, and can bloom into depression by high school, leading to substance abuse and even suicide. The clearest path to treating it is to “remove the stigma around anxiety with parents,” she says. Instead of hiding the problem, explore treatment—the most successful of which she has found to be “a combination of cognitive behavioral therapy and medication.”
Which brings me to my own story of OCD. I mentioned in an earlier blog that it was at age four that my parents realized that there may not be something right with me. I talked about my generalized anxiety issues, but it is only until now that I am telling my journey of OCD. My Mom died when I was 14, and that was when my OCD became extremely debilitating.
I am the baby of the family. I have three older brothers, all eleven and ten years older than me. It’s Brent, (the oldest,) and then Dirk and Kirk, (the twins,). Because my Dad was sick too when my mom passed, social services came in the night she died and told my family that my oldest brother Brent would have to be my guardian or I would be handed over to the state.
Brent became my guardian, and ensued was a whirl-wind of change. He was only twenty-four years old, and he was not mature enough to be a guardian to a teenage girl who had just lost her mom. He didn’t know that he was supposed to take me to my psychiatrist that I had been seeing since I was eight years old.
So, something I loved to do was the alphabet in sign language. I would be in school and I would have my hand near my side and I would do sign language. And it felt so good. If I were stressed I would tug on my ear 4 times and then slap my side with my right hand, and then I would do the alphabet in sign language. I would do the alphabet walking down the halls, I would do the alphabet in gym class, I would do the alphabet in class while I was supposed to be writing notes. My hand felt like it was going to fall off. My grades were starting to be effected. I was always a straight A student, and at the time I came home with all F’s. Oh, and kids are super cruel anyways, they are extra cruel when you are doing things that are bringing attention to yourself.
At night time the song, “Story of a Girl,” would play over and over in my head. One night I became so desperate for sleep that I started tugging on my ears. I tugged on my ears so hard they started to tear and bleed, and I put a cotton ball in my ears. The school counselor finally stepped in. And when she did she threatened my brother that she was going to call social services. My brother got me back into my normal doctor, and I got back on my meds. I also started talking to a grief counselor.
While my anxiety and OCD was not cured, and it was definitely not the last time I hurt myself or someone else, I was able to sleep better. And I was getting better grades. OCD is treatable.
There have been better years than others. The year I miscarried the twins I didn’t leave the house for a year.
Recently my OCD was becoming really uncontrollable again. There was a lot of changes going on in my life, and I would get stuck on words in conversation. For example, I just started a new position at work. My team was in training and we were reading out loud and my boss got to me and I started my sentence and said, “The attorney stated stated stated stated…” I went on as if nothing had happened, but you could tell there was a confusion in the room. I left the room and went to the bathroom, and cried in embarrassment. No one likes being the New Girl, but when you feel like you are different or there is something wrong with you go home and you feel ashamed. And like you are worthless.
The good news is that OCD and its tag-along disorders are treatable. There are all kinds of medications and therapies that can help alleviate symptoms. And since the spectrum disorders are linked, one treatment can sometimes cover all symptoms. OCD is not something that can be cured, but it can be controlled.
More recently a site reached out to me that is called nOCD. nOCD is an app that was created by someone who suffers from OCD themselves. The founder, Stephen Smith, (a total cutie BTDUBS,) is on a mission to help people with OCD and to take the shame away from the disorder. nOCD is a fully customizable app which incorporates clinically proven OCD treatment techniques (we are not creating a revolutionary new therapy, instead, we are revolutionizing the DELIVERY of an existing form of therapy – ERP – which we already know to be highly effective for OCD).
nOCD provides real-time tracking of a wide range of metrics, including time spent doing ERP exercises, anxiety levels during exercises and during general use of the app, location/time of day of OCD episodes, and much more. All your personal information is stored on a HIPPA compliant secure server.
nOCD allows you to export this objective data directly to your therapist if you choose to do so. This was something I was extremely impressed by. When I see my doctor, it was problematic since self-reporting is subjective and OCD patients commonly doubt some of the most basic things about themselves or about whatever they are doing. In addition mOCD has a large community on social media @treatmyOCD. I caught myself in the middle of a trigger last week, and the community was so supportive.
nOCD is available for FREE on the App Store (Android version coming soon!). nOCD is determined to bring high-quality, affordable treatment to anyone who needs it.
To download, please click on this link: