I love washing the dishes. It is a pointed and exact pleasure I find in life. I like the routine, and I most certainly like the ending: clean dishes, and mess (which was depressing me) removed for now. I mention dishes because I do that so often, by hand, and it is the easiest portrayal of my entire outlook on things needing to be clean and perfect.
But really, I wonder—is this OCD? There is a ritual to it all, but a lot of people without OCD enjoy rituals like this, especially when the end result is something we all—everyone with or without mental disorders—agree we need: clean dishes. To me, it is certainly an extension of my OCD to some point, but at the same time, I have to step back and think about this exercise as just me being a normal person. It is not that crazy to want the dishes washed and to enjoy doing such.
This extends to a lot of things, mostly around the house. I keep my areas extremely organized, labeled, in containers, you name it—I do that. I am that. The places I call my space are that. Oh, and I have a very negative emotional reaction when things are out of place, especially when others put things out of place. Emotional. But mental?
It is good to question oneself. Always. Everyone should question anything that defines them to determine what is really going on. That is being a good, solid person. And I question myself pretty much every second of the day. One may say I’m… obsessed… with it.
OCD is not cancer. OCD cannot be seen as human cells doing bad things under a microscope. And beyond this far too cliché and obvious conflation, OCD itself presents in myriad ways, it would almost take someone with OCD to categorize all of the various types of OCD.
I don’t have a lot of time to spend with psychologists and psychiatrists. Or, better put, they seem to not have a lot of time to spend with me. Yeah, when you have a mental disorder, you’re basically going to spend a lot of money to get a professional’s ear for an hour, or be subject to the fifteen minutes maximum to get you in, talk quickly in monologue about yourself, get your meds or get your meds adjusted, and be on your way. So there isn’t much in terms of professional opinion about my OCD. I laid out a whole paper on myself and gave it to a psychiatrist and he told me: it seems like you have OCD. He quickly explained that OCD doesn’t always involve things like obsessive hand washing, and gave me Fluvoxamine. The end.
The rest I learned on my own, which is something I’ve explicitly been against—especially with the ease of shysters being able to put up self-help type websites that lead you to a book about your condition as if it were garnered from a cold read. $19.95 and… yeah.
I distrust anything I’ve learned on my own. I’ve grown up thinking professionals should decide on things like medical conditions—as they have the years of learning about such. I’ve also, at the same time, gained an unhealthily skeptical view of the medical establishment. But these two things together still don’t equal a trust in my own self to research my own disorder.
I still do. It is how I found out about Pure-O, which I have. Oh, the long name: “Primarily cognitive obsessive-compulsive disorder.”
So I doubt. And I obsess over this doubt. Why? Well, this is where things start to make sense and I come back around to fully believing I do have OCD (I do, by the way, spoiler alert?)
Something is very wrong with my brain. I am absolutely positive about that. I don’t work right. I am not meant for this world. That’s putting it simply—I could expand that to more than 80,000 words.
The OCD, though, well we have a few things going on here:
1. The Fluvoxamine works! Oh, it works absolute wonders. And I am positive there is no placebo effect in play, as I tried over twenty other medications before settling on this one. The difference in how I reacted to the world with my obsessions (less so compulsions with Pure-O) then as compared to now is so absolutely noticeable there is barely an hour that goes by where I don’t compare the two me’s.
2. I am not cured. I have OCD episodes, and they are clearly OCD. When I am going through a particularly tough mental struggle, I obsess over the fit of my t-shirts. And I really mean obsess. And I get it wrong. Shirts that fit fine yesterday are wrong. I will go through 4-5 t-shirts just to feel “right” enough to tackle my real-world problems. Heck, I am considering settling on an XXXL set of t-shirts from the cheapest place I can find them just to have a safety net for when these obsessions flare up. Note, I am an XL, not an XXXL at all. But I’ll go with it—and look like a fool—if it will quiet the obsessive behavior.
3. My need for things to be right and clean and perfect extend far beyond what a normal person—even a neat freak—would present. Neat freaks go about their day, spending a lot of money at The Container Store, and find a nice happiness in organizing. Heck, my own sister does this for a living. I am that, but it extends much further. I feel a terrible anxiety and often crippling—and I mean crippling—depression when things are not right. I will start fights regarding them. I will tear into relationships. I will do unhealthy things to make things “right” as the moment dictates “right.”
So I doubt. And doubt is good, it is how we learn. However, that doubt turns out to be unfounded.
Nice to meet you.
I have OCD.