by Colleen Baker, mental health blogger
(Courtesy of howiwascured.com)
Before bed each night, I force myself to check all electrical wires so none of them are touching, check the closet for who knows what and make sure that the wires running underneath my bed are in a safe position. Then, I need to get my bed ready for sleep and make a final trip to the bathroom so I have no worries of needing to “go.” Without doing this, I cannot sleep—or stop thinking about what I “need” to do. To be honest, out of all of my personal disorders and stories of my past, telling this one is the scariest.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a form of anxiety that effects more people than you would expect and in many different variations and extemities. Understanding_OCD states that “Approximately 2.3% of the population between ages 18- 54 suffers from OCD, which out ranks mental disorders such as: schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or panic disorder.” We all have certain things that make us happy when doing, but for sufferers of OCD, it feels as though something terribly wrong will happen if this certain action is not completed. We call these actions “rituals.” As discussed within my first post on anxiety, people with any anxiety condition feel incredibly overwhelmed with the feeling that something terribly wrong is about to happen or as if they cannot function. Similar to this, OCD acts like a first cousin of normal anxiety, but a cousin with a need for forcing a ritual in order to calm this feeling.
Some sufferers find that if they do not touch a certain part of a wall that they pass or move in a certain motion when walking somewhere, they are overcome with a tormenting voice that forces them to complete said action. For me, it is my nightly ritual and constant need for cleanliness that drives my OCD.
You are most likely wondering how one person can be stuck with so many mental disorders. “How is she so crazy?” To be honest, I sometimes feel this way as well, but I have no trouble finding connections between all 5 of my disorders. Control is the guiding factor within my life and is the main cause of all of my disorders. Anxiety comes from a lack of control and fear of something going wrong. So, my bulimia and past anorexia gives me that control that I fear I am missing and soothes my nerves. I feel as though I am the owner of my own nerves and thoughts when I can control my food intake. My past depression may have led to my anxiety due to the fact that I would never want to feel that way ever again–I fear oncoming depression, so I become anxious and wish to be in complete control of my environment and thoughts.
And finally, we land on my OCD. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder forces me to do certain things that have proved to me in some way to be actions that keep me safe and happy–they keep me in control.But am I really in control when I am being forced to crazily check the wires behind my dresser each night on end? It feels as though I am in control of what happens in my life by keeping things so organized and safe, but my OCD is really the one steering this relationship.
This is the heart of OCD. We feel as though by keeping things just how we “want” them, we can avoid negativity within our lives. Life is not about avoiding, though. Life is, to fulfill a cliche, about living. Once a ritual has taken over, a life is not being lived, it is being pushed from day to day.
The roots of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder vary so greatly among all of its sufferers so much that it is hard to say what the real, underlying cause of this epidemic is. Everyone has varying degrees of necessity for control and once a point gets hit, OCD may be the result. It happens. So, if you notice a behavior similar to mine (those on the hit A&E show “Obsessed”) in yourself or a friend, get some help or suggest help. No one needs to feel like a prisoner within their rituals and no one deserves to live life day by day at the discretion of this or any disorder.
Counseling Center: 315-443-4715. Help is never out of reach.
Editor’s Note: What the Health Online and What the Health magazine are not licensed to give medical advice. The tips above are simply tips from a student with experience. If you are struggling with a mental disorder, please refer to your doctors to seek options that are right for you.