Anyone reading this probably already knows of the stigma attached to any mental disorder or illness that we with such conditions suffer through. No matter how progressively-minded a person is, we feel looked upon differently. To a point, we are different—but only in that our brains work in a manner different from a majority of the population. That’s all it should be—a situation of not being in the majority. But it isn’t, we’re different in an odd (at best) or bad (at worst) way.
That’s an obvious reason to hide one’s mental disorders from others, and while it may or may not be healthy—it is a coping mechanism we all use. However, with my OCD in particular, there are distinctive reasons I go to lengths to hide my disorder.
Ironically, these often become obsessions and compulsions in and of themselves.
1. I fear the innate selfishness of OCD will come through
OCD is inherently selfish. It is, there’s no real way around that. As much as I know this, I can’t quite control it. I need things to be a certain way, we’ve probably established that with just a cursory understanding of the disorder. But the key is I need things to be my way. I am me, and I’m seen as the one who needs things to be a certain way. This is imposing, I know. I hope I hide it well.
2. What would my work think?
I have a fairly high-level high-stress job. Imagine if they knew I was doing what I was doing with a mental disorder that makes it much more difficult than average to do my job. Don’t get me wrong—I do a stellar job. I work like crazy. But I have a burden that’s existence alone hampers my output at times. Having OCD is different than being a perfectionist, at least I know that. Others not so much—and it’s almost a cliché now that perfectionism isn’t really looked upon as a good trait in the workplace. Yes, my every-eventuality thinking has saved the day many times. However my need for things to be a very certain way, I admit, has slowed things down—as much as I try to shirk methodologies.
3. I don’t want to explain the depths of my OCD
I happen to have Pure Obsessional OCD (Pure-O). This means I have a lot more of the obsession end of things than the compulsion end of things. There’s a bit of complexity to even that, as I do have compulsions, I just don’t have them in a way most people understand sometimes. (Sometimes I have some pretty common ones, too.) For the most part, however, my OCD is my obsessions turned inward. For others, it is wildly different things. I have intrusive thoughts as well, but only a select category. There is a lot to what goes on with my OCD—and if its out there, I feel I need to explain it in detail. It’s not as easy as “I have muscle spasms, do you mind if I sit down for a bit?” (Not at all saying any illness trumps any other illness at all.) With my OCD, it’s easier if I just keep it to myself. If I were to mention it in a single phrase—”I have OCD—” that really wouldn’t get across what is going on with me in the situation I’m in with others.
4. I think my OCD will be a burden on others
Do you want to be around me talking about getting a stain out of my shirt for 2 hours? Because this happens. If I am having an OCD episode, I feel I am a burden on others. I am crazy, and I am forcing those around me to walk with me into this world of crazy. Society works best when people move in a nice synchronicity. I stop those gears! The problem here is that I know this, so another reason to keep what seems traumatic to me to myself.
5. I believe others will think I am faking it
This belief is paradoxical. We’ve all seen how OCD is portrayed in movies and television. We know the stereotype. I really don’t even need to spell it out. Watch Monk. I see this too, and I see these characters as sympathetic figures. Actually, most people do! Which on one hand is a little frustrating because of the lack of depth OCD is given—it is a tremendously multi-dimensional disorder. At the same time, I’m aware of the sympathy that comes from some people towards those with OCD. I feel if I let people know I have OCD or am going through an OCD episode—I am merely trying to get some quick sympathy.