Your Cleanliness Does Not Mean You Have OCD

Your Cleanliness Does Not Mean You Have OCD

I highly doubt you’re washing your hands for the same reason that I am.
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When I was in fifth grade, I began imagining my parents’ deaths. Whether it was in a car accident, a raging fire or just peacefully in the middle of the night, I couldn’t get the thoughts out of my head no matter how hard I tried. In fact, even typing those sentences makes me a little anxious.

I thought I was crazy, demented, maybe even possessed. I felt hopeless and distraught, and the only solution to make me feel better was to start compulsively checking random things in my room.

In order to get ready in time for school, I would have to wake up around 5 in the morning. I would have to pray multiple times throughout my daily routine, and if I messed up I would have to start over.

I would have to rearrange the stuffed animals sitting on my bed perfectly. I would have to turn the lights on and off a specific number of times. It was an endless cycle of check, stress and repeat.

It wasn’t until my mother bought me the book, “Kissing Doorknobs,” when I realized I had OCD. After reading about Tara’s struggles in the story that were just like mine, I felt a tiny bit relieved. Turns out I wasn’t crazy, I just had a chemical imbalance (thanks, brain) that caused me to contemplate my deepest fears over and over.

If you don’t know what OCD is, it is a mental disorder that causes disturbing intrusive thoughts (these are the obsessions). Because people do not want these thoughts in their heads, they engage in repetitive “rituals” (the compulsive part) to bring them some relief.

Obsessive compulsive disorder affects roughly 1% of the population. That’s it. So, I get really frustrated when I hear people constantly laughing about how “OCD” they are when they actually are not.

Feeling the need to wash your hands isn’t OCD, that’s just common sense. Everybody wants to avoid getting sick. But, I’m pretty sure those self-declared “clean freaks” aren’t washing their hands because if they don’t they’re afraid that they’ll contaminate and kill their whole family.

For me, personally, I wouldn’t even consider myself a “germaphobe.” OCD can manifest itself in multiple different ways. While some OCD sufferers do exhibit strong fears of germs, others can become fearful of certain numbers, colors, harm to themselves or a loved one dying.

Also, the compulsions that come with OCD include many other actions other than hand-washing, such as praying, counting, hoarding or tapping. Each individual sufferer of OCD experiences the disorder differently, which is why it can be so difficult to truly understand the illness.

Along with that, wanting things organized does not mean you have OCD, either. Again, this is a very common trait for people to have. And I’m sure for most of you, not organizing your desk won’t induce a panic attack because you won’t be worrying about dying just because you didn’t rearrange your pencils.

Another common misconception that people have about OCD is that it is very obvious. For me, this could not be further from the truth. I purposely go out of my way to hide my compulsions from people, because I don’t want to explain to people that I have to log in and out of my computer five times or else my parents will die.

In summary, OCD is not a “quirky” personality trait. It is a real disease that actually affects people everyday.

And while we’re on the subject, telling me to “relax” will not help the chemical imbalance in my brain. Don’t you think I would’ve tried to do that by now if that was the case?

OCD, along with many other mental illnesses, is still very stigmatized and misunderstood. However, that can change when people stop using it in the wrong way and, instead, remain mindful of the struggles that real sufferers of the disorder face.

Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons

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To The Person Who Feels Suicidal But Doesn't Want To Die

Suicidal thoughts are not black and white.
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Everyone assumes that if you have suicidal thoughts that means you want to die.

Suicidal thoughts are thought of in such black-and-white terms. Either you have suicidal thoughts and you want to die, or you don't have suicidal thoughts and you want to live. What most people don't understand is there are some stuck in the gray area of those two statements, I for one am one of them.

I've had suicidal thoughts since I was a kid.

My first recollection of it was when I came home after school one day and got in trouble, and while I was just sitting in the dining room I kept thinking, “I wonder what it would be like to take a knife from the kitchen and just shove it into my stomach." I didn't want to die, or even hurt myself for that matter. But those thoughts haven't stopped since.

I've thought about going into the bathroom and taking every single pill I could find and just drifting to sleep and never waking back up, I've thought about hurting myself to take the pain away, just a few days ago on my way to work I thought about driving my car straight into a tree. But I didn't. Why? Because even though that urge was so strong, I didn't want to die. I still don't, I don't want my life to end.

I don't think I've ever told anyone about these feelings. I don't want others to worry because the first thing anyone thinks when you tell them you have thoughts about hurting or killing yourself is that you're absolutely going to do it and they begin to panic. Yes, I have suicidal thoughts, but I don't want to die.

It's a confusing feeling, it's a scary feeling.

When the depression takes over you feel like you aren't in control. It's like you're drowning.

Every bad memory, every single thing that hurt you, every bad thing you've ever done comes back and grabs you by the ankle and drags you back under the water just as you're about the reach the surface. It's suffocating and not being able to do anything about it.

The hardest part is you never know when these thoughts are going to come. Some days you're just so happy and can't believe how good your life is, and the very next day you could be alone in a dark room unable to see because of the tears welling up in your eyes and thinking you'd be better off dead. You feel alone, you feel like a burden to everyone around you, you feel like the world would be better off without you. I wish it was something I could just turn off but I can't, no matter how hard I try.

These feelings come in waves.

It feels like you're swimming and the sun is shining and you're having a great time until a wave comes and sucks you under into the darkness of the water. No matter how hard you try to reach the surface again a new wave comes and hits you back under again, and again, and again.

And then it just stops.

But you never know when the next wave is going to come. You never know when you're going to be sucked back under.

I always wondered if I was the only one like this.

It didn't make any sense to me, how did I think about suicide so often but not want to die? But I was thinking about it in black and white, I thought I wasn't allowed to have those feelings since I wasn't going to act on them. But then I read articles much like this one and I realized I'm not the only one. Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, and my feelings are valid.

To everyone who feels this way, you aren't alone.

I thought I was for the longest time, I thought I was the only one who felt this way and I didn't understand how I could feel this way. But please, I implore you to talk to someone, anyone, about the way you're feeling, whether it be a family member, significant other, a friend, a therapist.

My biggest mistake all these years was never telling anyone how I feel in fear that they would either brush me off because “who could be suicidal but not want to die?" or panic and try to commit me to a hospital or something. Writing this article has been the greatest feeling of relief I've felt in a long time, talking about it helps. I know it's scary to tell people how you're feeling, but you're not alone and you don't have to go through this alone.

Suicidal thoughts aren't black and white, your feelings are valid, and there are people here for you. You are not alone.

If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline — 1-800-273-8255


Cover Image Credit: BengaliClicker

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5 Tips To Help You Feel Better If You're Sick

A few helpful tips if there's a bug going around.

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Not to brag, but I don't get sick very often, maybe once a year. When I do find myself a little under the weather, there's a few things I like to do for a faster recovery. I have no idea if any of these are 100% accurate, but I'd like to think they do. None of these will immediately make you feel better, but they'll help quicken the process.

Drink lots of water.

This one is a no-brainer, but it can be hard to do sometimes. I know when I'm sick, I definitely don't think about it. Water can help flush toxins out of your body, makes you hydrated, and can help you feel more awake and energized! If you're not a huge water drinker like I am, Tea also helps.

Stay home.

If you're sick, it's honestly better if you just take a day off and focus on feeling better. If you're worried about going to school or work, it's better that you don't spread anything. Let me just say, I'm fairly certain the last time I caught something was because someone behind me in a class was coughing through the entire lecture.

Rest.

This one goes with the last point, but sleeping will help your immune system fight off any infections. It's good to take some time off and get any extra sleep you can.

Clean everything.

I like to wash all of my clothes and bed sheet, because they're what I wear and touch the most, especially my pillow cases. This will help get rid of some germs and stop them from spreading. It's also good to disinfect anything you touch often, like doorknobs and table surfaces.

Take medicine.

This one also sounds like a no brainer, but seriously if you expect to feel better soon you should be taking some sort of medicine. At the very least, it'll help with your symptoms, so you're not couching or sneezing every couple minutes.

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