OCD Awareness Week (17th – 23rd Feb 2014).
I don’t usually take part in “So-and-So” weeks as a lot of the time they don’t relate to me and I certainly wouldn’t want to try and understand something I have no comprehension about. However, following a few emails, tweets and blog posts about this particular subject, and because I’m a sufferer too, I thought I’d bring awareness to the subject as well. There are more of us than you think!
OCD, or Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, is an anxiety disorder that can produce heavy anxiety, fear, apprehension or worry; brought on by thoughts or obsessions deep within the brain. It can be seen in many forms, from being excessively (in some people’s eyes) clean, to the way someone walks down the road, to how many times something is done to even just “feeling” right. For some, it controls their life; for others they control it to a degree, but it will always linger – especially on bad days. OCD isn’t a phobia of something, it is an anxiety disorder. An OCD sufferer is not afraid of dirt, they just can’t manage being in the same room as it – they may want to clean it.
As a sufferer, my OCD is “order” and cleanliness. By this, everything has it’s place and everything has to be specifically placed. My house has to be a certain limit of clean and there cannot be “stuff” like receipts or pieces of paper hanging around. It sounds silly, I can even recognise how it looks from the outside, but I can’t help it. I often try and joke about how similar I am to Monica from Friends, but even when I try to just dump something, such as my phone on the sofa, I simply can’t and I end up having to go back to my phone and neatly place it on the coffee table, in line with the edge of the table, or in my pocket. I’ve often had to go back downstairs as I know an empty glass was sitting on the side waiting to be washed up (all the washing up has to be done before bed). A friend of mine can’t walk on large cracks in the pavement and can only walk on 2/3 of those BT covers.
Over the years, I have dealt with it and simply forced myself to ignore something that others would think was silly, such as the way I put food on my plate, and it’s worked – however there still things today that irk me and I cannot ignore. Things like, where things are placed in the fridge and cupboards, how the curtains have to crease a certain way when they’re opened, how my desk is organised, the volume on a stereo and how it has to be on an even number or multiple of 5 are but a few daemons, but I deal with them. Some things cannot be described, as I just “feel” out of place somewhere on my body.
When I was a child, I never knew that what I was doing in the supermarket, such as reorganising the cheese into size order or removing the one can from the empty box onto the shelf and disposing of the card was weird, but apparently it was and my mum just took it was little quirk. It never did anyone any harm but I would become obsessed. Thankfully since meeting S, she has helped me through issues and embraced it. She has never once told me to stop doing something but, in turn, she would reassure me that there was nothing I could do about a certain something, or someone would just mess it up again anyway – and this would help. She never complains that I may be late coming up stairs to bed or that I may have to re park the car a few times to get it perfect – she’s just there and waits for my brain to finish boiling over.
Over the years, I have met people with OCD – some worse sufferers than others. Thankfully, many sufferers have received help or are coping with their anxiety on their own, but others aren’t. So if you know someone who suffers, don’t joke around with it, as it’s likely to be causing them stress. Simply ignore what they’re doing; rather than bringing attention to it by telling them to “stop being silly” – as more often than not they don’t want to be doing what they’re doing. Better yet, ask them if they need any help or assistance.
There are tons of places you can visit if you’re a sufferer or need help in assisting others. If you’re not that confident, then there are places online. Both sites below offer a variety of tools for those suffering and those supporting.
OCD UK – http://www.ocduk.org/awareness
OCD Action – http://www.ocdaction.org.uk
There is also a Twitter conversation happening this week, you can join in by using the hashtag #OCDWOA.
OCD is one of the ‘unseen’ disorders out there that people don’t understand. I personally don’t have this – but suffering from PTSD and anxiety as well as my partner with BiPolar disorder – we have found that it is tough raising a toddler in our chaos, but so far, it’s been the best thing for us! Thanks for sharing your story, I definitely know the courage it takes to speak out and to speak to those ‘quirks’ you have that may not be a big deal to those looking in from the outside, but the heart knows, your heart mind knows the severity of the impact it has on your life. It’s great that you have a partner that has embraced you and has chose not to change you! I love stories like this.
Thanks for the reply – I can’t imagine what chaos you went through, especially on bad days when they just didn’t sleep!
I actually really enjoy writing these posts, as much as I want to keep this a TTC blog. I think it’s because I’m getting to show that there’s more to us than a couple TTC.
You never want to lose your identity in the process, because at the end of the day, you are right, you are a lot more than just one label or one stereotype. You are a whole person, this is just one facet of yourself.
I think I have OCD tendencies – enough for people close to me to notice but not so much that it affects my daily life noticeably I think. I have aways thought that if something truly traumatic happened to me, OCD might be the way the stress might manifest itself.
My key things that I think seem OCD are (although I might just be pedantic and quirky?):
Laundry – must have it all hanging the same way, end up matching pegs to clothes by colour – so buy all one colour pegs so I don’t mess around taking pegs off and rearranging.
Counting – count everything (& often over and over), people in meetings, objects of a similar shape (in order of size), cars while I’m driving past (bad habit and I try and consciously stop myself) – obviously that’s not on the motorway/expressway lol etc
Doors – need all doors and drawers closed fully. Even if my bedroom is a tip with clothes everywhere, I will get back up out of bed if a cupboard is an inch open. Or sometimes even if I suspect a cupboard in another room is open. (My ex used to tell me that she thought she’d left a kitchen cupboard open – just to mess with me – she thought it was hilarious.)
Aligning stuff – straightening pictures, books on a shelf, pencils on a table, putting all the sugar sachets up the right way in the bowl on the cafe table etc.
So that’s what I can think of off the top of my head. Sound like OCD?
It’s difficult to tell, you would certainly have to speak to a doc. A lot of the time OCD sufferers don’t realise they have OCD until they’re told that what they’re doing isn’t “normal”. There’s being neat and tidy and then there’s obsessive, can’t-sleep-until-you-sort-it obsessive.
Reading through yours, I also do some of those things – I can certainly relate to laundry. All my towels are folded the same way creating a neat pile.
Thanks for sharing. Over the years, I’ve dealt with my OCD and now just name it as my quirks.
I have this and it’s really stressful.
My thing is mainly to do with ‘checks’. I have to check all the rooms in the house before I can go to sleep to check that there isn’t a plug left on, that no one is in the house, all doors and windows are locked etc. I check EVERYTHING about 5 times too, and sometimes I then go back and check again! It means my bedtime routine it literally between 30-50mins! I met a lady online that is helping me try some things to slowly get it under control because at the minute it’s really bad. I haven’t always been this bad, I find stress makes it worse. Thank you for the post, it was really comforting to read this tonight 🙂