At an early age I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I’ve lived with it now for nearly 20 years during which many loved ones have asked me to describe it. I think I can guess the public’s perception of the disorder – I’ve seen enough docudramas on television, but for me, I cannot fully relate to a woman washing her hands a hundred times a day or a man that won’t step on any cracks in the sidewalk. Each person is different as is the severity and affect the disorder has on him or her. I understand, to an extent, what drives these individuals (and my heart goes out to them) yet I tend to obsess rather than act ….but, I digress.
When trying to describe OCD to others, I’ve come up with many creative analogies in hopes they may gain a better understanding of my experience with it. Hence – (insert wry smile here) “Fun with OCD Analogies!”
No. 1) the Rolodex
My mind is like a rolodex, each worry and strange obsession carefully catalogued away. Lest they be forgotten during a few moments, days, or months of joyful simplicity, one can easily be selected and retrieved to the forefront of my thought processes.
No. 2) the Parasite
What is this thing – this awful pest that occupies my thoughts and drains my body? Like a giant leech I cannot sever, sucking, sucking away my energy and leaving me exhausted and fraught with worry? Yeah, no amount of salt is going to remove this one…
No. 3) the Malicious Entity
In therapy, I’ve referred to my OCD as something else, something sinister threatening to upset my happiness. The disorder is easier to address this way because while it is my responsibility, with help, to control it, I recognize that the illness is ultimately not my fault and I can be angry with it – this someone or something! Perhaps that sounds a little theatrical but I’m not speaking about demonic possession or anything, people.
No. 4) Waiting to Exhale
Finally, managing OCD has been like waiting to exhale – no matter how happy or relaxed I feel, no matter what blessings life as to offer, there has always been and probably always will be that little part of me that cannot fully let go…my mind will not let me forget my worries or obsessions.
I cannot only be bitter, however. For as many tears, drugs, and therapy OCD has caused me, it has also helped make me who I am today. I have a better appreciation for the health and happiness God has given me and a better understanding of others facing mental illness.