I Was Diagnosed With OCD -- When I Was 22 Years Old

The first memory I have of being this way traced back to when I was around 5 years old and at dinner with my family. The waiter brought the check to the table as we finished our meals, and I reached for the receipt to look and see how much our dinner cost. My grandma took it away and said I didn’t need to look at it. I would scream and fly into a fit of rage over not being able to see the ticket. I did this for years -- until I was a teenager. We couldn't leave a restaurant without me seeing the ticket total.

During middle school, my neurosis switched to food. If anyone touched my food, I wouldn’t eat it. It didn't matter if they accidently touched my plate by reaching across the table for something. If anyone or anything touched it, I refused to eat.

In high school, I was fixated on clocks and mouth sounds. In class. I would keep a headphone in my ear near the clock in the room so I couldn’t hear the ticking. At home, we never had analog clocks because I would hide them in the closets or take their batteries out. I could hear them ticking from anywhere, like a sixth sense. Smacking gum or chewing food too loudly also made my skin crawl. Obviously, it’s impolite and gross, but it makes my whole body shake with rage until I have to just leave the room entirely.

As I get older, this list of ticks, as they call them, continues to grow. I have to face the door at restaurants, I despise any sounds that repeat for minutes at a time, changing plans no matter how far in advance unnerves me, my planner not being marked to the correct page unfuriates me, the list goes on. These things sound so mundane and make it seem like I'm a high-maintenance control freak. But the difference is this: it runs my life. If I don’t face the door of a restaurant, I don’t enjoy the time I’m spending with friends because I’m turning around every five seconds to look. It’s rude to ask people to stop chewing with their mouth open, so I have to just leave them.

Forever I’ve just said, “I’m sorry. It’s just my thing. I have to do it.” But I finally have a way to explain it. I was recently diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder. You’re probably thinking, “Nothing you mentioned has anything to do with keeping your room clean and compulsively washing your hands.” And you’re right, but cleanliness isn't the only form of OCD. In reality, we all have a little OCD in some ways. Everyone likes things a certain way. But the difference between having a preference and obsessing over it is that a person with OCD drives themselves crazy until the issue is fixed. Their days are run by obsessing over these things and not being able to move on with life until they’re addressed.

Since discovering I do actually have OCD, I’ve become hyper-aware of my habits. There are things I never realized I’ve always done but can't not do. It’s almost annoying to think that I have to do certain things without a real reason as to why. I’m slowly trying to be more conscious of what is necessary and what’s obsessive. It’s difficult for me to understand my own mind, but it's a relief to know that there is finally a reason why I am the way I am.

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