Lately, I’ve been reading a lot of first hand experiences with OCD. My heart breaks when I read these stories.
I find this OCD pest to be both fascinating and devastating. I’m fascinated with these people’s stories. I’m devastated that they have to experience this horrible illness.
Reading these first hand accounts gets me thinking about how OCD is so much more involved than people even realize.
Let’s talk about that. When someone mentions OCD, what’s the first thing you think of?
Does an image come into your mind of someone washing and re-washing their hands? Maybe you think about someone organizing their things over and over again, never quite getting them right. Or, do you think of someone who doesn’t dare touch others for fear of picking up an illness through contamination?
If someone had asked me a year ago if I knew what OCD was, those are probably some of the things I would have brought up. But I’ve learned a lot about it in the last year, and so many things I’ve learned have surprised me.
OCD is not just washing your hands a lot or worrying about getting sick and about germs. Obsessions can present themselves in ways such as order and symmetry, superstitions, hoarding, excessive focus on religious ideas, sexual obsessions, fear of losing control and hurting someone, and more. Compulsions can be things such as obsessive checking, washing hands until they’re raw, repeating words, counting, praying excessively, and more. My son’s main compulsion is covering his nose with either his shirt or his arm.
OCD is a debilitating illness that affects anyone and everyone in it’s path. Family members are affected in so many more ways that I ever would have realized. The person with OCD will not stop asking for reassurance from their family members that all is ok (more on that here). When the family members grant that reassurance, they actually end up feeding into the OCD. The whole family dynamic changes and things begin to revolve around OCD. This illness has put a strain on our family like nothing else has. Family members feel they are always walking on eggshells.
OCD is tricky. It can convince the sufferer that someone is going to get hurt or die if he doesn’t do exactly what OCD wants him to do. And it convinces him that he needs to do it over and over again.
OCD is persistent. You can get momentary relief by performing a certain compulsion, but it won’t go away forever. It will come back and you’ll have to do it all over again.
OCD is scary. Imagine your brain being almost constantly in fight or flight mode, and imagine thinking you will die if you do or don’t do certain things!
This is what my son and many others have to struggle with. When I think about what he has to go through…my heart. It breaks.
I love that boy so much.