Friday, January 16, 2009

Confession: I Have OCD

So I hate admitting this to people but i find it easier to talk about to complete strangers than i do people i actually know. I have OCD which is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, which is a mental disorder. Suffers typically have obsessions such as repeated, persistent and unwanted ideas, thoughts, images or impulses that are involuntarily and that seem to make no sense. And compulsions which are repetitive behaviors that a person feels driven to perform. These repetitive behaviors are meant to prevent or reduce anxiety or distress related to their obsessions.*

The most well-known sufferer of OCD is Adrian Monk from the tv show Monk. Monk has a series of phobia in combination with his OCD which makes him act the way he does. I don't like telling people i have OCD because they automatically connect it with Monk and my OCD is completely different. In fact OCD isn't like cancer or alcoholism. Everyone who has OCD suffers from it differently. Some people count things repeatedly or have to do things in a certain order or have to have things lined up perfectly. It affects all of us differently but it typically roots back to issues of anxiety, stress and the need to have control over something.

My case is fairly mild in comparison to some people i have seen. Some have to count the number of steps they take and always end on an even number, or they have to touch every doorknob they pass. I'm pretty lucky in comparison. My OCD is mostly compulsions with a few obsessions sprinkled in. I have one of the more common conditions which is i wash my hands constantly but unlike other sufferers I don't have a fear of germs or contamination. I just need to wash my hands sometimes its because they feel dirty and sometimes its due to stress. Eating things like Cheetos and Chicken wings make me totally crazy and i have to force myself to finish eating before i go to wash my hands although sometimes i lose that battle. The other things are just weird like i have to color-code certain things (my closet, crayon boxes) and I have to fill in the lines when highlight so that it makes a completely filled in box. I need pattern in things. I didn't even realize the pattern thing until a friend made a mention about it a few weeks ago.

I say all of this because its the first week of second semester of Graduate school, and the first week is always stressful for me. I'm having to learn new patterns and that causes me alot of anxiety and then there is the meet new people part. Stress and Anxiety always cause my OCD flair ups. I mean it never really goes away but i know how to avoid things to keep it under control. As i type this my hands are red and raw from all the hand washing I've been doing to compensate for the anxiety I've had, and i hate it. I'm terrified someone is going to look at my hands and ask what happened and I won't want to tell them. I know what I'm doing is irrational and most people just don't understand (my own sister doesn't really get it). Plus I'm embarrassed by it. I think it constitutes a weakness on my part and I don't want people think there is something wrong with me.

Hopefully, next week I'll be more accustomed to my new pattern and i won't stress out about my OCD cause stressing about my OCD causes me more anxiety with causes more OCD. It's just a vicious cycle.
*Info from here
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