Mental health

MHAM: Inside My OCD #1

I have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and picking and checking are just two of my many compulsions. The checking has been particularly bothersome this week.

This week, I’ve noticed an increase in my checking. I know this increase is likely due to anxiety I’ve had about completing final assignments, getting into a new program, and exploring new avenues of my freelance work.

What’s checking? It’s exactly what it sounds like, you check things several times before you can move onto the next task. For many people with OCD, checking is an annoying symptom. I feel ridiculous when I do it, but I can’t stop myself because it’s something I have to do. Even just explaining it right now makes me feel somewhat embarrassed when I know I shouldn’t be.

Monday night, I grabbed a package from the porch and after locking the doors, I started to walk to the living room.

I turned around and walked back to the front door, checked that it was locked, and started to walk to the living room.

I turned around again, walked back to the front door, checked that it was locked, and started to walk to the living room. That last time, I wanted to check the glass door to check that it was locked but I didn’t. It was hard, but my OCD seemed to accept the memory of locking it as confirmation enough.

The memory of locking the front door, however, wasn’t reliable enough, nor were the other times I went back to check. I prepared to go back to check the front door again but didn’t. It was so difficult for me not to go back and check again. My brain screamed at me to do it. I kept reassuring myself that I checked at least twice, and it was in fact locked.

I ruminated on the memory of checking to stop myself from checking. Despite this, I was anxious about the door being unlocked for the next thirty minutes.

There have been moments like these all week. Checking the garage door. Checking that assignments and emails are sent. Checking that I’ve turned off a light.

And as for the picking, my OCD gives me the compulsion to pick my bottom lip. It’s completely involuntarily and I don’t realize I’m doing it until I’m in the middle of picking at or chewing on a piece of my lip. This particular compulsion I’ve done since I was in elementary school, and it also happens when my anxiety is particularly high.

I bring this up because there’s this stigma that having OCD is just liking things tidy, it’s getting upset when things are out of order, and it’s liking things incredibly clean. While some with OCD do have those compulsions, that is just a fraction of the awfulness that it is to live with this mental illness. There are compulsions and intrusive thoughts, and obsessions, and it can be downright debilitating.

*Sigh* OCD is so much more than what many think it is.


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