I rarely discuss this particular subject anymore. I like to think that this part of my life has been left in the past, but since I now feel more comfortable talking about it, here it is.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder took away the freedom I had over my actions and my mind. This issue is often portrayed by almost everyone as a cleanliness or organizational problem or utilized as an adjective to describe someone who likes order. I'm not here to tell you how that definition is incorrect, but rather to speak about how OCD is unfortunately beyond that adjective.
My mind was the prisoner of this illness. I had no control over the one thing I always wanted to be able to have a good spiritual connection with: my mind.
This subject is important to talk about because it is a mental disorder that often gets twisted and is conceived as some hand washing issue or an adjective to describe people liking things in order or being clean. That's not what OCD is. Obsessive compulsive disorder isn't just an adjective. Unfortunately, it's a chronic mental disorder that definitely puts your life on hold.
Saying "OCD destroyed my life" is a bit of an exaggeration as I don't nearly struggle with it as much as I did even a year ago. Also, as a disclaimer I would like to say that I don't believe in the power of mental illnesses in terms of defining your life: because if you relinquish your power to something that holds you back, what will you have left? However, I can attest that waking up every day was a chore due to the rituals I had to perform just to live out a single day. The sequences that went through my head every time I washed my hands, took a single step, ate food, or honestly just moved were hell. I was constantly afraid that my house was going to catch on fire or people would break in. My brain decided to cope with my fears by telling me to touch the knobs on the stove in a 2-4-6-8-10-1-2 sequence at least 7, 17 or 27 times. It took so much time away from my day in order to carry out. If i accidentally hit my leg on the side of the table, I would have to keep hitting myself 6 more times in order to complete my sequence. Every time I would go through one of these sequences I would also be feeling intense waves of intensity and doubt. It never felt like enough.
The earliest I remember of my struggles with OCD was with locking the doors when I was about 9 years old. I was always home alone in my small apartment in Brooklyn, and although my neighborhood was not "dangerous," there were quite a number of burglaries on my block. I think the worry behind making sure the doors were locked is rational, but the relentless patterns of repetition drove me to a place where I was irrationally fearful of what could actually happen.
Fast forward to junior year of high school, where I was increasingly struggling with my health in general. This was by far the worst year in terms of the reoccurrences of my rituals. I remember driving myself crazy when a single edge of a magazine wasn't lined up perfectly with the one underneath it and the tortuous feelings of me not being able to control every obsession I had. To this day I still haven't figured out how or why OCD seemed to come out of dormancy and progressed so rapidly that year. The questions of how and why don't really matter as I was eventually able to find the will inside of me to go out of my comfort zone in order to get rid of something that made my life so painful.
Perhaps that is why it use to make me so uncomfortable when OCD was used as a sort of branding for products and companies such as the "I have CDO, which is OCD except the letters are in order" shirts, the bakery Obsessive Compulsive cookies, and the Obsessive Christmas Disorder shirts. The reason why I wrote this article was to in my own way debunk some of the myths surrounding OCD and explain why it shouldn't be glorified. I guess my overall message is that the next time you decide to announce casually "Omg, I'm so OCD", I hope you think about what you are truly saying.