Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), simply put, is a haunted house disguised as a pristine mansion. From the outside, people long to reflect the aesthetic of perfection associated with OCD.
“If only I could be OCD about cleaning, my room wouldn’t be a mess.”
“Maybe if I got OCD I wouldn’t be failing out of school.”
As a sufferer of OCD, I feel obliged to inform you that I would choose a dirty room or bad grades over this haunted house anyday. More often than not, people associate OCD with repetitive, obsessive actions that physically manifest in the world. For instance, habitual cleaning, checking, washing, etc. What you don’t see is the overwhelming quantity of mental energy afforded to these tasks, the constant battle of belief systems fighting for supremacy in your mind. The border between rational and irrational dissolves into a blurry abyss, as you cling onto reality, vying for any form of relief.
Like many people, COVID has taken a toll on my mental health. I can no longer distract myself with busy university life; I’m cooped up in a small apartment, glued to my computer screen, and alone with my thoughts. And these thoughts hold a life of their own! One dismissed element of OCD is the rapid swinging of emotional stability. One moment, I may feel perfectly at ease. However, this ephemeral calmness quickly devolves into a panic attack, triggered by a thought, sight, or sense: basically anything can set me off.
Constantly tip-toeing on the border of meltdown, I never feel fully comfortable at any moment. OCD is like an unscratchable itch, steadily waxing and waning in every crevice of your brain, until it finds a soft spot; a place to strike. I’d like to say that with time, I’ve gotten better at handling my disorder. In fact, it’s quite the opposite. I can no longer self-regulate my emotions, and rely on my family and friends to talk me through dark phases (which occur quite often). I constantly navigate whether it is “appropriate” to reach out, or whether I’m too much of a burden. The trickiest part about OCD is that it closely mingles with your raitonal thoughts. The answers are never black and white. I’m eternally stuck in a land of gray.
So where is the inspiring part of this passage? What’s the moral of the horrendous story? I’m quite sorry to say there is none. OCD sucks. It really really sucks. And it can make you believe that now is forever, that your particular disorder is far too severe to be healed. The one glimpse of reassurance I can provide you is that if you choose to get professional help, through a cognitive behavioral therapist and a psychiatrist, you can get better. No, you might not be completely free, but better is a good place to start.
Recently, I’ve switched psychiatrists (the last one was a pill-pusher), and decided to seek out a CBT therapist. I know I need help. And I refuse to accept that this is my forever. If you are struggling with a similar mental health condition, I urge you to overcome the stigma and fear involved in medication and therapy. Give it a shot! You never know what doors may open up for you. However, for the time being, I hope you find an ounce of consolation in knowing that you’re not alone. I’m here right alongside you, hoping for moments of happiness in every tomorrow.
If you have an OCD story you’d like to share, feel free to send us an email firstname.lastname@example.org. We’d love to hear your story.
Written by: Brianna Rauchman