Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Hey Sher, That’s Not Funny.

As often as I joke about having obsessive-compulsive disorder, the truth is that until a person with the illness finally dwells in a place where they understand exactly what it is, accepts that it is a part of what makes them who they are, and forces themselves to stop trying to hide it, OCD is miserable business.

Fortunately for this OCD Chick, I have lived in such a place for some time now.

Not that it was easy. On the contrary, Obsessive-compulsive disorder was once my sworn enemy and we battled, this nasty brain monster and I, for years and years and years. Most of the time, the monster won and left me lying on the floor, unable to adequately defend myself or the people I loved.

Because I pay attention to such things, I know that a percentage of the visitors who read my blog (and my website) arrive here from some of the various “OCD websites” you can find on the net.

I know from experience that they are likely searching for something familiar, something to remind themselves they aren’t alone with their crazy. Maybe they need a little hope, or the benefit of someone else’s emotional knocks or even a moment to take a breath and laugh at an illness that they don’t find funny at all.

I try to provide the laugh, but I have been cautious of anything more serious. Having dealt with OCD my entire life, I’ve been taught to be selective about whom I include in my reality. I have a nasty habit of believing the best in people and sometimes they have a nasty habit of proving I shouldn’t have.

Today I realized that from time to time it’s OK, if not necessary, for me to write about this thing that lives in my brain. Having lived nearly 43 years now with obsessive-compulsive disorder, it’s really ridiculous as a writer not to occasionally feed the elephant in the room a hand full of nuts.

So, from now on there will be a post here or there about the reality of OCD. My hope is that my readers who live this life will find some comfort and even some hope of their own. For those who do not have OCD, maybe they’ll learn something new. It could be a big bonus when they finally make it on Jeopardy.

“I’ll take Someone Sneezes on You for $500, Alex.”

(FYI, the answer is “What is kill them with something sharp and then boil yourself in Lysol, Alex?”)

I’ve learned how it works, my obsessive-compulsive disorder, and in the same way a diabetic is fully aware the price she’ll pay for a piece of cake or foregoing her insulin, I know the price tag stress carries for me. It’s not one I’m willing to pay.

There has been something in my life for quite awhile now that I knew was costing me far more than I had the psychological ability to pay. I kept at it though, the entire time knowing full well what I was doing to myself and always wondering when I’d finally have to foot the bill.

For an obsessive-compulsive, stress can be as toxic as a bleach martini.

In my case, unhealthy stress levels show up in how much I care whether the shampoo bottle is facing east. One day you take a shower and put the bottle down with no thought, the same way a “normal” person would. The next, you spend five minutes trying to position it so that it is exactly where it “feels right” so that no one you love or care about will die in a car wreck.

That’s the reality of OCD and that’s the price of doing something you find so stressful that you cry five nights a week… but keep doing it anyway so that everyone else likes you because they think you’re just like them.

Which is what you’ve always wanted. To be just like them.

Which you are not. ~~~~~

*Tell me your OCD stories or ask your OCD questions. But wash your hands first. Questions are dirty.*

Macy Gray's best song ever... and the best song ever for this post. Oh click it, already.

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6 comments:

Flutterby said...

First off, thanks for signing my blog! And since I always have to peek over from the signatures, I found yours. And it must be a huge truckload of fate or karma or some other weird oddity of the universe that you wrote about OCD, but all I can say is "Welcome to the club." I have suffered from a fairly mild bit of it most of my life. Stress does seem to be my main trigger as well. I can go for days, sometimes even weeks without it being a problem at all then have one stressful day and I find myself doing something like checking the door locks at night 10 times before I can go to bed. And then be halfway to the bedroom and that naggy-ass little voice whispers "Are ya SURE you checked ALL the doors??" And I can stand there and picture myself checking them; I can feel the doorknob in my hand. And I still have to go back and check again. That's the *normal* OCD habit for me... there are a couple so weird I can't even try and explain them.

moodswingingmommy said...

Thanks for stopping by my first-ever blog, and I'm so glad you did so I could see yours. Was it my title that drew you in (?), because I can totally relate to your experience. Love the stress=bleach martini analogy! So true.

Sher said...

Flutterby,
It's been said that between 1 and 3% of the population have OCD. That's a lot of us for sure. I'm very, very familiar with your compulsions and I am certain that you don't have any you could throw at me that would shock me. (Even those you think no one knows about.)

MSM
You're welcome. I'm realizing lately just how many bleacn martinis I've been forcing down and only because I want everyone around me to be OK with who I am and like me. Gotta be liked.

just me said...

Along with bipolar, I have been diagnosed with panic disorder, PSTD, and OCD. The form I have mostly revolves around ruminations, checking, and my hair for God's sake! When I get really stressed, and can't fix something, give me some scissors and I'll go to work.

I don't know if you use medication or not, but the ssri's helped me a lot, and some mood stabilizers. Except lithium. I did crossword puzzles for a year, and was sure I would win the lottery.

My mom had it really bad. Germs. Everywhere. And bugs. We bought probably 10 different recliners because of the bugs! She boiled everything, dishes, the back porch, even me, at one time. My hand was in the way when she poured boiling water over the dishes in the sink. Whenever I get out of my car there is this ritual. Check my purse for the keys, check the ignition for keys, check my purse for keys, take two steps, check my purse for keys. I can live with that...

I don't only like you, I think you are way cool, dudeess.

Alpha Dude 1.5 said...

Okay, so I'm not saying I have OCD, but I just can't help it.

CDO. There. I did it. i got the letters in order. Who cares if it doesn't make sense now. The letters are now in order. CDO.

I feel much better now. Thank you.

Sher said...

Just me,
I am legally changing my name to Dudess... and I totally get that your Mom boiled you. Not that you needed boiling, but I get the germ phobia.

Alpha Dude,
I get it. And it makes perfect sense to me.