Always to Remember: OCD Is Debilitating

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I realized I once wrote here how making jokes about OCD doesn’t really bother me, and on the surface, I have pretty thick skin when it comes to any humor—as I happen to like dark and often offensive humor. Jokes like saying one has “Obsessive Christmas Disorder” or “Obsessive Coffee Disorder” really don’t do much for me (they happen to not be funny, but only on their own merits.)

I’ve been reminded at times how a lot of people who are full-on neat freaks, as it were, will often appropriate the term “OCD” regarding issues they face. A lot of people who have OCD are very offended by such things. There is a scowl at the notion of “I’m so OCD” being thrown around when someone really means they’re just very organized and dislike it when things are disorganized. Or they happen to like patterns in things, and as human nature would have it, are disturbed when those patterns are a bit off.

I have a very difficult time being the type of person to extend any of my ideals on to how others should think, talk, or act. It is very difficult for me to be offended by the aforementioned appropriation of the term “OCD,” even knowing it is not actually a mental disorder that those who are doing the appropriating have. I don’t want to be “that guy,” and deep down I am not. I am actually most offended by people who are offended by what I’d consider too much. Live and let live, and all that.

I was struck today, however, with a completely different perspective. It came amidst an OCD episode I had. Most of my house is out of place right now, as painting is being done and shelves are being put up. I had some money to afford such things, and it’s all typical work, and being done at a fine pace. And, hell, shelves! I have OCD, right?

However, I absolutely could not shake the to-the-core anxiety—to a point very close to depression, which is not a disorder I have to a large degree—that I felt by all of the mess created by this work in progress. No one is doing anything wrong, this is the natural state of things when painting and light construction is being done.

So I then think of people who look at a stack of papers on their desk and feel that they’d be better served with such papers in file folders in a cabinet. I would guess—and I can only guess, and I could be wrong—that these people are still able to carry on with their lives while these papers remain unfiled. For sure, the most organized of people will get to filing these papers in due time, probably pretty quickly. They’re probably good, hard-working people. However, they can certainly enjoy the rest of the day knowing they’ll get to filing tomorrow or so.

I cannot.

This is a serious disorder of my brain, and it can’t be said enough how different it is than the aforementioned scenario of someone wishing to and soon thereafter getting to filing papers.

I am not better or worse a person than anyone else here. It just needs to be known that often times things like papers out of order will affect me to the core. I will not be able to continue on with the day until these things are in order. I may be forced to, but my brain would be spinning as if a loved one were in the hospital. I very literally cannot concentrate on anything else, and very literally am in a fog of such anxiety that my brain starts to shut down.

The other problem is, this is not based on rational thought. If I were to clean up the papers. If I were to force myself—using my own example—to finish the shelves and painting, I would still not be well. My entire being would be like a shirt that doesn’t fit right at all. Yet I am figuratively forced to wear it.

This is a serious mental condition. It is more than an extremely orderly and organized life I lead. It is a fixation on what it would take to make the entire world around me “right,” and not being able to function (without faking a lot—and faking it is not actually doing it) without everything being “right.” And knowing that everything can and should be “right.” And on top of it all, knowing I have a disease that is making me think irrationally, yet not being able to shake it.

This mess is not just a mess: it is tightness in my chest. It is living in hell. It is an overtaking force. It is barely able to be described in words.

So coming back to a person who does not actually have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder saying they’re “so OCD” about certain things. I actually don’t know if I am offended, but I’d sort of like the world to know what real OCD is actually like. If I had my way with everyone’s words—and not being a God, I do not—I am not sure I would censor anyone. I don’t quite know the point in that. But I would like people to know that OCD is something I truly suffer from. “Suffer” is quite the key word here—is it an intense suffering. It is constant, and it makes me unable to even come close to enjoying life when it is at its worst. For some, it being “at its worst” is more often than not. Some people go as far as considering this not a life worth living.

My OCD is slightly more under control than this—but it took years to get here. My OCD flares up for days and weeks and then subsides into something more manageable. Oh, never gone, but manageable. Something I can—only so often, but I can—compartmentalize.

However when I cannot compartmentalize—it may involve a stack of papers lazily strewn upon a desk—but my reaction is so different than someone who is merely a well-organized person. I want the world to go away if I cannot fix it now. And if I did force my way into putting those papers away, it would be something else.

When I say “I am OCD,” I literally mean my whole being is obsession and compulsion.

I am OCD. It is hell.