OCD is a joke now. A catch phrase. A punchline. I think maybe it used to be a disability. Something we could make fun of or bully people for. Now everyone has it. "Oh, no, I can't stand that frame to be crooked. It's the OCD!" "I can't possibly go to bed until the kitchen is cleaned up! It's the OCD!" It's like a "lol" now. A "yolo". A "ttyl" even. "OMG you're soooo ocd! Buwahhahaha!" I'm guilty of it, too. I love to poke fun at myself because I can't eat food that touches. (applesauce can't touch the bread, pasta can't touch the broccoli, you get the idea). It's funny! Life is funny.
Here's the Emotional Piece:
Pretend you have a negative thought. And if you're me- those are always self- deprecating, and let me tell you: there's no one who can hurt me like me. So pretend you have this mean, hurtful, but totally honest thought. Now pretend it plays over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over in your heart like the song you get stuck in your head. Pretend people try to talk to you while that phrase is shouting to keep up over them.
"He'll never want you the way you look. He only stays for the kids."
Pretend your mind is a hard drive running full steam in the background while you try to compose an email. Your every keystroke lags. You delete half of what you wrote on accident. And that background program is eating your sanity.
"You're going crazy again, aren't you. Why don't you quit trying to be so happy and interesting. Everyone sees right through you.. Stop pretending you're normal, Mrs. Anxiety Disorder 2007."
It's not just that. It's not just those repetitive thoughts. You learn to block those out. You learn to say, "Self! Put on some music or play with your kids. Sing. Dance. Yoga. Meditate. Drink wine! Whatever you do, ignore that mean stuff!" So, those of us with OCD, that's what we do. We block it out. We bottle. And then. Then that background program turns itself on in your subconscious when you're not paying any attention, and the next thing you know, all your triggers are lighting up like the cockpit in a fighter jet. You're spinning out of control, and you're doing all of the things you always do- the handwashing, lashing out, the anxiety, the counting, the door locking, the binge- eating to quiet your nerves. You say to yourself, "WAIT A MINUTE! What the hell? I didn't even know you were upset!" Some introspection reveals that while you pushed the mute button on that relentless self-loathing record on repeat, something has truly hurt you or bothered you and you've been so busy ignoring yourself that you didn't deal with it, so here you are in the middle of a full blown depression.
That's ok, though, you're used to that. You pull yourself up, slowly, patiently, deal with the thing that hurt you and drive on.
Now here's the Mental piece. Here's how it goes When I think about packing for a family vacation.
"Did you pack everything for the boys? Did you pack everything for you? Did you remember to seal everything so there are NO MESSES MADE. We can't have messes away from home. Speaking of away from home does your car need fresh Clorox wipes? You know those dry out, right. Paper towels? Trash bags?
(He'll never want you the way you look.)
Did you call the people about boarding the dogs? Oh God the dogs smell awful. Why do dogs have to smell like dog?! Did you have time to clean the floor in there before you go? Maybe if you didn't think about everything else so much you'd be a better mother.
(My God you're such a spazz. You're going to scar these kids for life.)
What are the kids doing right now, mother of the year. oh God I bet they're making a mess. We can't leave the house for a vacation if there's a mess back home. Then we'll come home to a mess. What if the car breaks down? Where is my insurance card? When is that project for Nicholas due? Do I have to go to that pancakes breakfast thing at his shchool? You know there's going to be syrup there, right. Oh God. Syrup. We don't eat syrup. I wish I could be mean enough to not let the kids eat syrup.... cavities.... way to go mother of the year. Can't wait to here them explain to their future wives how their Mom never let them eat syrup because it made a sticky, hard, congealed, icky, mess she might have to touch.
(He can't possibly stay with you much longer because you are a complete nut job. Also, all this worrying and you have achieved absolutely nothing.)
What if the car breaks down? You already said that. I need an oil change. Did I check the tire pressure?
(How many people have you disappointed today. Not including yourself. 6? Is that a record?)
When even is that pancakes thing? When is the last time I took them anywhere fun? Did you pack everything for the boys? Did you pack everything for you..............."
How many times do you check your locked doors? Can you walk through an exterior door and not lock it? Leave your car and not lock it? Leave your car locked and not check it?
How many times must you wash your hands while you cook? I average 10. You know how I know that? My son is a counter. OCD is genetic.
How scared and insecure does a mess make you feel? I have two boys and pets. And you know what they do? Make messes every single day. I am getting better, but truth be told, my skin is crawling, I'm sweating, my heart is racing, and I am absolutely petrified that I will have to touch the mess as I clean it up (fingerpaint is like the scariest thing. ever. I've literally NEVER done it with my children. and that's sad.).
How many foods do you not eat based on texture? 9. Peanutbutter being the biggest offender because I'm afraid it will touch my skin.
I could wear gloves all the time- but that's wasteful, and that would bother me and I would think about it incessantly and it would repeat in my head. Also, when I tried the gloves, I averaged 6 pair per meal, so I could hardly keep them stocked.
How many times a day do you have to shower? wash your hands? Have your kids wash their hands?
I cannot allow my food to touch on a plate. And that's funny. Until I go on date night with my husband, and I can't focus on what he's saying because it's touching. It's still touching. Even if I separate it.... still.... pieces of it.... touching.....
The truth is there are things about OCD that are blessings I couldn't even describe to you. I make a great employee because I literally am incapable of letting things rest uncompleted. There are so many ways my OCD has improved since my diagnosis years ago. I have what I consider to be a mild case, and I try again every. single. day. I'm proud of that, and it builds character.
I just wanted to say, pop culture, that OCD can be funny as hell. I love to laugh at myself, but, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is not a joke. Not a punchline. It's the monster that is myself. It's the omnipresent thinker of all thoughts. It's not about straightening a picture frame or one pencil facing the opposite direction from all the others. It's about real people in an every day struggle.
I'll be stepping off my soapbox now ;) Thanks for lending me your ears.