I can split my OCD experience into two time periods: the era when I dealt with my OCD alone, and I was the only one that knew this was what I was suffering from, and the era after I was open about having OCD and when those close to me (and eventually acquaintances) knew about me having OCD.
Letting those close to me in on my specific disorder allowed for a touchstone to be formed where my effects on others could be understood in a clinical sense. I was no longer “just crazy” (even in what those around me considered a colloquially humorous way.) There was now a shared understanding of my social existence that had (somewhat) defined causation and action.
With this shared understanding came the freedom I—maybe inadvertently—granted everyone close to me to call out to others not as close to me, “that is his OCD right there.” And they were almost always right. My OCD was, most likely, the cause of the actions everyone was seeing me perform.
This was a touchstone, but only a touchstone. A touchstone assumes condensation of the whole of the situation. My OCD has a lot of nuances, it has a lot of back-stories, it has a lot of stuff that goes beyond what can be contained in a shared understanding.
This caused me a lot of frustration. I wished for everyone around me to understand my OCD. I wanted to go further into this new era of being open about my OCD. And I tried. I talked about my OCD, well, obsessively. I started to go beyond embracing my OCD into becoming my OCD. My OCD was at a point where I’d assisted myself in letting others in on the disorder, and then beyond that to the point where my OCD defined who I was.
“That is his OCD right there” went beyond specific situations and became a constant. I was my OCD. My OCD defined me to others, and then to myself.
Now when I jumped back into dealing with my own life alone, I was constantly applying my OCD to every single nugget of life. Even as I worked through the worst effects of my OCD to become a little more stable, I would still look at every action I took through the lens of OCD.
How much decaf coffee I drank compared to caffeinated? OCD. My need to double—and triple-check my daily budget? OCD. Even having a daily budget: OCD.
It is true, OCD is a major part of who I am. I have gone as far as being known for it through running and writing a blog about it. My OCD is constant, it is not solved and will probably never be solved.
But my OCD should not—and I have decided will not—define who I am.
Often my “every eventuality” thinking saves the day. It does, I don’t feel vain in saying that. I often hedge against possible negative outcomes that no one else sees. While this is part of OCD as a condition, can I not just chalk this up to being… intelligent? Does it have to be my OCD on display, even if the outcome is positive?
It shouldn’t! Because I should not be defined by my OCD insomuch as to have every grade on everything I perform be “his OCD.” Because at some point if I let this be what defines me, my OCD becomes akin to its own person who thus takes credit for and blames for everything I do as a person. It moves from “that is his OCD right there” to “OCD did this.” And nothing else.
I am more than my OCD!
I am a smart person. I am a sensitive person. I am an anxious person. I am a hyperactive person. I am a high-performing person. I am a lazy person. I am so many things that are not OCD. Colored my OCD? Sure. But coloration of my personality traits is not the full story on my personality. Each one of these descriptors is affected by my OCD—but they are affected by other things as well: environment, socialization, and how about just who I am? All of the complexities of me that go beyond OCD.
My OCD makes me overly sensitive to others. I am constantly worried about how I will come off, not for selfish reasons (that too) but for reasons of not wanting to hurt the other person, confuse the other person, be a burden for the other person. Is this fully my OCD? No. I am a sensitive person aside from OCD as well. That alone is a characteristic alongside OCD. OCD can be removed from this and I have to believe I would still be just as sensitive a person. I am a sensitive person, full stop.
I am not finding I need to actively move into another era of my OCD life experience. I now need to take back some of what OCD has been the central definition for, and not allow OCD to define me as a whole.
“That is his OCD right there… but…”
For starters, I’ve decided that while I need to be open about how my OCD affects others around me, I will only bring up my OCD as the reason for something happening when the OCD is completely central to the situation. I am not erasing my OCD at all, it affects a lot and it needs to be known when it does so. But it is not central to everything. Sometimes I do things, sometimes I affect things because of reasons where OCD is merely tangential. There, OCD doesn’t need to be mentioned by me or others.
And finally, in my head, I am going to look at places where OCD merely plays a role alongside—and the is the important part—equally as important characteristics of mine. That is to say that my intelligence, sensitivity, anxiety, hyperactivity, and the like are to be seen as brothers to my OCD rather than children of.
I am not defined in full by my OCD. My OCD is part of a very complex mix and sits at precedence that fluctuates from paramount to a minor spice in the overall flavor.
My OCD is an important part of my life. It is not the only important part of my life. I am more than my OCD.