This one's a little personal for me. Anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder have been best friends in my body since chidlhood, but they always seem to not remember to invite me to their gatherings (even though I am very aware of how active the two of them are together). So here is a list of things I as someone with Generalized Anxiety and OCD experiences a daily basis that you might not know about (because most of the time I'm pretty good at hiding it).
1. Completing a compulsion.
When you have OCD there are little habits (for lack of a better words) that you fall into that become rote. The first thing you should know- I do not want to do them. People with OCD tend to fall into compulsive behaviors because they feel if they don't that bad things will happen. I do feel this way. Being very type A, I know rationally that there are things that are just apart of life that I cannot control. However, it's almost as if by completing one of our habitual rituals we are somehow trying to prevent that bad thing from happening. The ironic thing is (at least for me) most of the time this habit that is supposed to make things better makes me feel a lot worse. By trying to help ourselves, we end up hurting ourselves.
My mom realized I had OCD when I was about eight years old. She found me in our computer room crying because I had to turn our computer on and off over and over just to make sure it REALLY was off. I was scared that if it didn't turn off it would over heat, and there would be a fire. I had been doing for probably ten minutes. As I got older, I learned to get more of a grip to control these sorts of urges by finding ways to ground myself back into rationality. BUT, it's not always a battle I win everyday. So, if you see me fiddling in my chair too much, or counting things on my fingers, I'm probably having a stressful day.
2. I know it's irrational.
I realize that beating myself up internally with worry over something I cannot control is irrational. That's why I try to control this disorder as much as I can.
3. It's worse when I'm stressed
Just like how you may feel your social life being strained when you're swamped, my OCD is heightened when I have a lot on my plate or my mind. Remember, it's always about controlling the inevitable.
4. I'm worried about how people will react to it.
Like I said, I'm usually pretty good at hiding my OCD, but that doesn't mean I don't worry about how it seeps into my daily life. I get afraid that people are going to think I'm crazy, or that I won't get a job because people will think I'm weird
5. Sometimes I feel guilty about it.
Sometimes when I think about how good my life is and that I still get so anxious for seemingly no reason at all I think, "what the hell is wrong with me?? There are people with REAL physical problems like no clean water, war, cancer or famine. And I'm upset for no reason at all?"
6. There are some positive side effects.
One good thing about having OCD-like tendencies and personality is that type A people GET. SHIT. DONE. I can sometimes ignore the urge to crumble to anxiousness by throwing myself into work. It helps combat stress because instead of letting compulsive behavior drown me, I can get a jump on it and use it to my advantage to succeed academically and in my job. Here's the one caveat- using this energy for work is great, unless you get to the point where you are exhausting yourself with work too. In that case, you're just replacing one compulsion with another but not labeling it as negative because you are getting work done. It's all about finding balance to live your best, healthiest life.
7. OCD and overthinking go hand in hand.
At least that has been my case. It's like when you get the idea that something bad could happen, rather than just going through the thought process of "if there is a solution, I will do it. If not, you can't worry about the inevitable," and OCD person's brain lights up like crazy. Neurologically speaking, anxiety is waking your fight or flight sensation, which is why the compulsions feel so mandatory.
8. My condition does not define my entire being.
I am an incredibly successful individual. I have my bachelors, I'm in graduate school, I've been in a loving relationship for the last seven years, I speak two languages fluently, I perform musical theater and (if you read my articles you'll know), I'm pretty damn funny. Yes, there are days when my anxiety completely takes over me, and I succumb to stress. But you know what, doesn't everyone from time to time? Just because I experience stress differently and more viscerally than some people does not mean I limit myself in terms of what I can achieve. I don't let this condition be a restraint or something that disables me from being my best self. As I said earlier, sometimes it even pushes me to do more. OCD and anxiety are something I have struggled with on and off since I was a little kid, but it''s also something I strive to overcome everyday. It's a work in process, but so is life and figuring out who you are and what you're about. So if there is someone out there reading this who has the same struggles, just know you're not alone. You CAN take control of your anxiety. You may not be able to do every day, but hey, we're all a work in progress, right?