The Dreadful O of OCD

My friend Janet over at OCDtalk recently blogged about how, so often, all people know of obsessive-compulsive disorder are the visible compulsions, as opposed to the invisible obsessions.  And back in November, The Atlantic also posted about the debilitating nature of obsessions.

As I’ve said before, “If it doesn’t hurt, it’s not OCD.”

OCD begins with obsessions.  Compulsions are actually just a monstrous side effect of OCD.

Source: deviantART "Torture" by eWKn

Source: deviantART
“Torture” by eWKn

Compulsive hand-washing is hard to hide.  Hoarding, definitely.  Even repetitive reassurance-seeking and confession (compulsions of choice for a Pure-O) are easy to notice once someone points it out to you.

But it’s harder to see the obsessions that are driving them.

Imagine the deep horror of constantly imagining you’ll hurt someone you love.  Or the intense mind-screw of questioning a part of your identity that you’ve always gripped tightly.  Or feeling as guilty as a rapist, a pedophile, or a murderer … when you haven’t even left your room.  You know that wrong feeling that you sometimes get to which you can never find the words to describe it except for that it’s just wrong?  How’d you like to feel that every waking moment?  Obsessions come hand-in-hand with such intense anxiety, horror, and guilt that obsessive-compulsives feel they cannot bear them.  Hence, so many compulsions.  And, devastatingly, suicides.

That, my friends, is why I get upset when people say things like, “I’m a little OCD; my handwriting has to be perfect” or “If my socks don’t match, it bugs me so bad.  I think I’ve got a touch of OCD.”  It feels like someone is comparing their hangnail to your amputation.  Does that make sense?

So many people in the OCD community have not yet found their voice, and that prompts me to be even louder.  I know no one likes the person who is so easily offended.  Heck, those people generally annoy me too!  But I’m reacting on behalf of a broken, abused, tortured community who– this is heartbreaking– believes themselves worthy of only brokenness, abuse, and torture.

So I choose to be loud about it.

Thanks for understanding– or trying to.

25 thoughts on “The Dreadful O of OCD

  1. I’m guilty, but never meant to compare myself with those who truly have been diagnosed with OCD. I appreciate your honesty and your “voice” for those who suffer with OCD. Thanks for the kind reminder that those words (I had a little OCD) are not to be taken lightly.

  2. Oh I love this post. I’m re-posting. As bad as the compulsions are, they are NO comparison to the tortious obsessions. Oh and that sickening guilty feeling of having done something terribly wrong even though logically you know you haven’t done anything wrong at all. Agony. Simply agony.

  3. Keep up the good work! It has been an encouragement to read your posts. You are doing a good job of helping people who have never dealt with mental health issues understand what it is like, and at the same time encouraging those who are dealing with it to know that there is hope.

  4. Jackie, Great pick for an illustration. The picture so perfectly depicts the life of an OCD suffer of all the various forms. Yes, locked into fear the experience is one of unrelenting anxiety and isolation. When I try to explain to others in my life that it feels like your being hung off a bridge or skyscraper with a rope, immobile in fear and unable to move the reaction I get is that you have to pick yourself up, use your intelligence, overcome and help yourself out of this nuttiness. I have even been told of others reactions to me. Don’t you think she’s being ridiculous or she’s just using this as an excuse (contamination). The implication is that your not trying hard enough, your a manipulator or your a coward if your not successful at helping yourself out of a fear that others can not relate to. An other thank you for using your talents to be a voice to give understanding to OCD.

  5. Reblogged this on Real Momma Ramblings and commented:
    I don’t usually like to reblog but this is such a great post about OCD, as well as the articles she links to. I have the desire to explain my condition to my friends and family but I can not find the right way. I suffer more from obsessions than I do from compulsions. I am not obsessed with germs and I am not organized or clean. In fact, I am embarrassed by my house and rarely invite people over. It’s hard for me to make new friends because I’m at that age where you invite your new friend and their spouse and kids to your house for diners and set up play dates for the children. But just the thought of getting my house ready for company stresses me out. I have dark thoughts all the time and the way she describes “feeling as guilty as a rapist, a pedophile, or a murderer … when you haven’t even left your room” is exactly how I feel. It’s hard stepping out and revealing this part of me. I haven’t really “found my voice yet” as she says so I will let this speak for me for now.

  6. That’s great!
    I’m from Brazil. Here, it’s more often I hearing things about I’m so OCD (due to the lack of information about OCD in my cuntry). I don’t like it.
    I consider myself basically a pure -o, my fears constantly changes, but its really hell!
    Guilt is the word.
    Obsessions, every day, hour, minute. Compulsions, only when the anxiety goes stronger.
    To live with OCD, its equilvalent to live like if I was the most evil person in the world, and the most guilty one, but of course feeling bad and guilty as hell. Everything is my fault. I’m the worst human being possible, but I don’t want to hurt anyone, thats the feeling. Definitely, no fun.

  7. Pingback: HOCD Q&A with Hannah! | Jackie Lea Sommers

  8. My obsession seems to be about my salvation. I feel very afraid and my intrusive thoughts back me into a corner and I get anxious talking about eternal security. I feel so down. I am taking medicine and going to counseling. I haven’t felt joy or peace for longer than a moment at a time for one or two years now. Please be praying for me.

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