There are many common misconceptions about OCD, more than misconceptions they have become dangerously interwoven into our everyday language, categorized together with truly harmless descriptors such as tidy, quirky, or persnickety. OCD is programmed into our vocabulary early on as something harmless, something trivial. As with other misused words, this creates a damaging barrier to those truly suffering. For those still confused about what they are experiencing, this can delay diagnosis and therefore treatment because to many, OCD would not be on the list of debilitating illnesses that could be affecting their lives to such a degree. And for those diagnosed, and all of us battling the illness, it creates an isolating wall between us and the rest of society, as we feel we cannot be open about what we are fighting in fear that we will be ridiculed and judged.
One of these indoctrinated ideas is that a person is “so OCD” because they enjoy tidying, they enjoy organization. But no joy and very little relief, if any, comes from OCD compulsions. We do not clean, avoid, wash, perform mental rituals, etc. by choice. We are compelled to do so.
The compulsions are just as distressing as the fear itself.
And while OCD is once again forcing me to wash against my will, it’s convincing me that it’s necessary, it’s the most responsible decision. And while I’m washing, with every last bit of the me that remains screaming for me to stop, OCD is in my ear telling me I’m doing it wrong, it’s not sufficient, it won’t be enough. Making all of my efforts feel futile and hopeless. I am lucky if I feel the tiniest bit of relief when I’m finally done. The compulsion that my OCD says will keep me safe is almost just as distressing as the fear I am trying to save myself from. That is the strength of OCD, that it can convince you to do this time and again. And that is why the “she’s OCD about her closet” misconception is so misleading and harmful.
OCD wipes your mind clean, sculpts it into its desired form and function, takes over the control board and tries to erase you.
OCD brainwashed me, and used my own hands to do so.
I don’t know who I am anymore. I think I haven’t known in a long time, I just didn’t want to admit it. I’m not a student anymore. I’m at a point in my life in which I take more than I can give, so I’m not a sister anymore and I’m not a partner. I have a mom, but I’m not a daughter anymore. Everything that used to define me has changed. When I see my reflection I don’t really see it, I don’t really look. But when I do, I don’t see someone I recognize. When I see the way they look at me, I don’t see me. Depression wore away at me until I felt empty and then OCD filled me up, only leaving space for me in the deepest recesses of my mind. I need to claw my way out, I need to fight. So I’m going to fight until I recognize that person staring back at me. Who am I now?