What is it like to have an Obsessive Compulsive Disorder?
I first realised that I had OCD when I was around 8 or 9 years young. I began to notice that I was overly paying attention to organisation, keeping myself too hygienic and constantly cleaning my surroundings. I thought it was normal to be over protective of my possessions, until I was pleading with my parents and brother to ask for my permission to enter my bedroom even if I was present in my room.
I would inspect to see if their hands were clean before they touched the light switch. No one was allowed to sit on my bed. Clean clothes that my Mum brought into my room had to be specifically placed on my chair: I would definitely deny her help to tidy them into their drawers and particular sections of my wardrobe. Still to this day I can recognise if anyone has moved an object belonging to me; even if it’s just a fraction out of place.
I was content with my choices, throwing to the back of my mind that I had an ‘issue’. The intensity of my OCD fluctuated between my childhood and adolescene: school stress, depressive moments and anxiety had an impact on this. At times I could limit the excessive hand washing and ignore my ‘three’ rule – often people with moderate or extreme OCD like to do things in a pattern of three e.g. turning on and off a light three times to ensure if it switched off correctly.
By the time I reached the age of 16 or 17 I knew how to resist against most of my OCD tenancies. Of course maintaining organisation and a weariness of public restrooms will always persist, but I believe everyone has some level of OCD in order to complete tasks to a practical or professional standard depending on the setting or task.
I think what helped with my ‘correcting’ OCD was working with children. Tidiness is near non-existent when there are a class of thirty plus children sharing rooms for playing, eating and learning. As long as the classroom was tidy at the start and at the end of each day I was satisfied: I could keep up a reasonable, controllable level of OCD practices whilst being distracted by the young humans who needed me to be their role model.
Nowadays, overall, I’m fairly relaxed with messy environments. As long as I have a little area reserved for myself, I’m more than happy to share with others and respect that sometimes they work better in a less organised state; as they don’t have to worry about upholding perfect presentation.
At the same instant as regarding moderate OCD as unhealthy for the mind, it’s also a coping mechanism for certain factors in life. In all hindsight being sanitary, and carrying around a hand gel isn’t going to hurt anyone. Furthermore from my perspective being OCD helped my to do relatively well at school and people who I worked with like and appreciated my approaches. It’s just the behavioural and emotional components that can come along with OCD that need to be monitored.
If you are close to anyone with OCD or you suspect that they have this condition, please address it too them whilst reassuring them that you will be supportive and respectful of their attributes. From my experience people can only aid someone to lessening the negative parts of their OCD, the individual themselves need to be the one in control of change and improvement; otherwise they will feel totally depleted and deprived of their barrier too rapidly rather than gradually.
One final point I’d like to raise: people with OCD aren’t necessarily settled with their own habits and consider themselves as helpless, feeling in a restrictive rut that prevents them for completing work responsibilities or general everyday routines. At this stage professional help should be seeked. The sufferer suggestively will feel embarrassed or withdrawn, but through guidance and suitable implementation the person will feel relieved; truly as if a weight has been lifted off of their shoulders.