How would you describe what living with OCD is like?

I have been asked this several times since being diagnosed. The best way I can put it is it is like being trapped inside your own body. You have obsessive thoughts that you do not want, and they start to control your actions, your feelings, and the way you live your life. A lot of times you do things or think things and you have no idea why. Of course for those living without OCD really do not understand what it is like, so I was wondering how do you describe living with OCD?

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OCD and Me — The Story So Far

I am not officially diagnosed with OCD but I am pretty confident I have it after talking to people who have it and doing research. It is a serious mental illness. It is different for everybody. When somebody says that they “are so OCD”, they are misunderstanding what it is. They usually say that after they do full cleaning or organizing session. That isn’t OCD. That is just being clean. They don’t realize that OCD has a variety of symptoms. My OCD is more of obsessing than acting on my impulses. Mine is more of thinking. This means that when I see something, I analyze every bit of it. I have to do certain things to satisfy my mind. My OCD started after a bad car accident in 6th grade. I believe this the event that triggered my OCD into full swing. The main symptom of my OCD is patterns. You know how on shows with geniuses, they show their point of view with diagrams and equations? That’s sort of what it’s like for me. If you look at 5 dots, you see 5 dots. If I look at 5 dots, I see a pattern. My patterns are usually skipping items. I will go to the 1st dot, 3rd dot and 5th dot and will be satisfied. If there is an even number of dots, it won’t satisfy me. I will find ways to arrange the dots or objects to be odd. If I can’t, it will bother me and I will keep going over it again and again because I am obsessed that there is no solution. This also stems into my obsession over odd numbers. I know that odd numbers result in being satisfied. This is the best way I can show the way I see 5 dots. My mind tells me to choose the odd numbers. Another symptom of my OCD that is bothersome is checking for signs of illness. This symptom came after my type 1 diabetes diagnosis. I think this came because I missed my symptoms for so long that it almost sent me into a coma, and I don’t want to miss another diagnosis that could kill me. For example, if you get a sniffle and runny nose, you see a cold and treat it like nothing. If I get the same symptoms, my mind starts thinking that it could be pneumonia or another serious illness. If I’m sick, I check my lymph nodes when I wake up. I check to make sure I don’t have rashes. I check my ketones to make sure my kidneys aren’t poisoning me from diabetes. You are supposed to check your ketones when you are vomiting. It’s like a switch in my mind that I can’t turn off. I recently got a Fitbit Blaze so I don’t have to check my pulse constantly and make sure my heart is beating right. The scariest symptom I have is when I drop something. If you drop a paper or something, you might pick it up, you might not. If I drop something and contemplate leaving it, my mind starts to think about all the bad things that could happen. If I accidentally drop a pen, I will think about leaving it. When I have that thought, my mind goes to another place. It thinks that my dog will get the pen and eat it and ingest the ink, causing her to die. It sounds drastic, but that’s what my mind thinks. I can’t stop my mind from wandering there. After that thought, I will pick up the pen. One of the more recent symptoms that developed is making sure the doors are locked. It may seem like an everyday thing, but to me, it is checking 2 or 3 times to make sure it is locked. I have 3 doors to lock. I will lock them 1 time. I will go back around all 3 doors to make sure they are all locked. My mind tells me that if the door isn’t locked, somebody will come into the house and hide out and hurt me and my family. Again, drastic but my mind is powerful. As you can see, I have a lot of things to deal with on a daily basis. OCD causes me to lose sleep. I will look for patterns in my room. I will keep recalling whether or not I locked the doors before I went to bed. If I am unable to find patterns or I try to fight my symptoms, I get anxiety. I get anxiety going to doctor appointments because I am afraid they will find something serious that I missed and it can’t be treated. I always carry a pen with me because when my anxiety gets up, I have to fidget and do something with my hands. I will take my pen and start clicking it. If it doesn’t click, I will keep removing and replacing the cap. I bite the end of my pen caps. OCD is a serious illness. It causes people to stay in their homes and not leave. It causes people to scrub their hands raw. It causes my mind to never quiet down. My mind races at a pace of 1,000 miles an hour. I will eventually seek out a therapists help. I have a support system from my family and friends. They support me through everything. Until I seek out a therapists help, my friends and family are helping me cope.

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