TW: Mental health, OCD, phobias
This post contains brief mentions of sexual violence; if you in any way feel you may be triggered by this, do not read. Here is a resource for support: https://www.rainn.org/after-sexual-assault
One of the main reasons why I began this blog was to help people better understand mental health, and fight against the stigmas that come along with them.
I want to talk about OCD.
I feel like this mental illness might be one if not the most downplayed, overused, and generalized disorder out there.
I have gotten so sick of hearing people make fun of this issue, or say they are “so OCD” about something, when they have no idea what really this illness entails.
When people overgeneralize words and feelings, it makes it much harder for those who really are struggling deeply with this issue to stand up and try to be heard.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a neurobiobehavioral disorder that entails obsessions followed by compulsions in order to temporarily relieve anxiety.
Obsession is the part of the disorder that cause a one-track mind. It can cause someone to be unable to focus or think about anything else because of how bothered and consumed he or she is with the obsession.
Compulsions are behaviors, rituals, or mental thoughts that, for an extremely short amount of time, can relieve anxiety or distress from the person.
There are six types of OCD: Checking, Washing and Cleaning, Ordering and Repeating, Pure Obsessions, Hoarding, and Scrupulosity.
I have put the ones I struggle with in bold.
Checking may be self-explanatory.
My entire life, literally, I have spent checking everything, not thinking it was strange…I just thought it is what everyone does.
What is frustrating is that many times OCD can be amplified by fears and anxiety, or in my case, having a phobia.
Since I was even as young as four or five I have been absolutely petrified of the dark. As a child, I had five or six night-lights at a time and my brother would pay me a quarter every time I would get rid of one.
I shared a wall with my parents growing up and whenever my mom would come in and tell me goodnight, the second she would shut the door, I would scream and cry and slam on their walls because I did not want to be alone in the dark.
Therefore, my OCD was amplified because of my phobia of the dark and of being harmed, and it has followed me forever. I never explained to anyone my rituals until finally my senior year of high school I told my mother that it had been taking me over an hour and a half to get myself into bed every night. This was because I had to check all around my room and the house before even attempting to try and fall asleep.
My fear of the dark and being harmed had driven me all the way to walking around and making sure every door in the house was locked two or three times before going upstairs, checking behind the shower curtains, and then once I got into my room I would look in my closet, in all the corners, under my bed, ect.
Then I would turn off the lights and do it all over again in the dark. After that, I would get in bed, and then get out of bed and do it again, until I had completed this ritual four or five times.
When I told my mom this I guess it was brought more to my attention that these things weren’t normal.
My OCD progressed so badly through out high school that I would not even attempt to go to sleep at night because of my phobia of the dark, and how long my rituals would take me.
Pure obsessions are when you have repeated, intrusive thoughts of harm and danger that cannot seem to escape your mind. The compulsions for this all happen mentally. This can entail replaying the disturbing thought or image over and over in your brain until you feel as though you have “perfected” or “fully understood” the situation.
So for me, I can distinctly remember since I was around ten years old having extremely vivid and gruesome dreams of being sexually violated.
As I entered into high school the dreams became worse and I would have them monthly, and then by the time I was going into my freshman year of college, they were happening weekly.
These dreams were so disturbing that I would wake up bawling and shaking.
I would run into my mom’s room, crying, and lay in her arms for almost an hour without speaking because I could not understand or vocalize how disturbed and disgusted I was.
And finally, the OCD that people have probably heard the least of, Scrupulosity.
This is when your OCD patterns enter into your spiritual life.
It is obsessing over the idea of offending God to even the mildest degree. Then, feeling the need to continually repent, and feel mass amounts of guilt to an unhealthy level.
When I first heard of this type of OCD, I flipped out.
It was right up my alley.
Through out my life I have continually felt this insane amount of pressure to be perfect, or else God would hate me and think I was less than.
If I messed up in even the slightest way, I would beat myself up for months.
This caused me to end relationships that I was scared were unhealthy and imperfect.
This drug me away from others because I could not handle not being in control.
This has controlled me.
OCD is controlling and unyielding.
The problem with mental illnesses is if they are not controlled, they WILL control.
OCD has run my life for years and I am just now realizing it.
It has been keeping me chained to anxiety.
It has caused me to be late to work, class, and vacations because of fear that I may have burned my house down.
It has caused me to have the darkest thoughts of pain and suffering that wake me up in anguish and agony.
And it has strayed me away from God time after time, fooling me that I am never going to be good enough.
But I cannot express my happiness, because I am fighting it, and I am winning.
I still 100% have obsessive thoughts, and yes I do have compulsions that I act on, but they are declining.
After reading books on my brain, making charts in counseling, and lots of self talk, I am at the point where I am able to get in bed within twenty minutes!
I am able to disregard hallucinations I may see, sounds I may hear, and images that may disturb me because I know it is my mind trying to trick me into fear.
And I am learning that I am a human being.
I am starting to understand myself, even the parts that make zero sense.
OCD can be battled.