I’m going to first start out by saying that OCD is not just something that “bothers you”. It kind of annoys me when people say “Oh yeah I have such OCD about that”. You do not have OCD if something is just annoying to you. Having a clean house doesn’t mean you have OCD. Having OCD is washing your hands 200 times a day even though they are bleeding because you can’t stop yourself. That being said, people with OCD are not “crazy”. You should not be ashamed of your OCD at all!
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a lot more serious than what a lot of people think. Mayoclinic.com says “Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by unreasonable thoughts and fears (obsessions) that lead you to do repetitive behaviors (compulsions). It’s also possible to have only obsessions or only compulsions and still have OCD”
I’m going to be honest, OCD runs in my family and I definitely have it…and it’s torture. What makes it so hard is you know what you’re thinking doesn’t make any sense at all, but you can’t control how you think about it. To clarify, I’ll give a personal example:
For some reason, whenever I get or give a high-five it has to be perfect. It has to “feel perfect”. 99 times out of 100 it isn’t perfect and it’s so hard dealing with it. I feel like I can’t breathe, I can’t swallow, my heart races, and I have to open and close my hands in fists in order to try to “shake off the feeling”. My hand feels uneven like it isn’t part of my body anymore and I can’t stop thinking about it. It can even lead to panic attacks. It’s absolute torture. I’ve learned how to better deal with this by distracting myself and not overthinking it, but it’s still super hard to deal with. I usually just fist-bump people to avoid high fives altogether.
Another thing I do is I write Post-It’s a lot at work. If the handwriting isn’t neat enough I will rewrite all the notes I just wrote. I also like to tear the Post-It’s into fourths and throw them away. It’s relaxing for me. I get a lot of OCD attacks at work because OCD can appear more when in a stressful environment. Also, if my medication is off, it will make my OCD worse.
Some ways to deal with OCD are breathing in and out slowly with your eyes closed. This helps calm you down and clear your mind. I like to think of it as breathing in “the good” and breathing out “the bad”. My friend Emma Brand (who is an excellent artist by the way) had our field hockey team do this before games when we were both team captains and it really worked!
To distract myself I start doing chores like the dishes or singing a song which helps a lot. Sometimes it’s harder though and I end up just rubbing my face and pulling my hair if it’s really hard. It can get pretty bad and it’s so draining fighting it all day especially at my job. BUT..it is not impossible. It is just a trial I will have to deal with my whole life and it will make me a better person.
One thing that can actually cure the specific problem you have with a thing is actually fighting it. This is so so so SO difficult. Way easier said than done. It can take a very long time to master saying “no” to yourself and telling yourself it isn’t rational and actually using the willpower to not give in to your OCD. It’s so much work and takes a lot of effort and time. This doesn’t mean it still won’t be a struggle. It will just make life bearable. OCD can be really scary. Sometimes when I’m driving I’ll have urges to do things, and if I give in it will definitely get me into an accident. I literally force myself to stop. Since it’s a matter of life and death it makes it easier to put in the willpower. One thing that helps me is I say out loud what I am doing while driving such as “I’m driving, I’m turning, I’m slowing down, I am hitting the brakes, I just passed a Dunkin Donuts, a truck is ahead of me”, etc. It sounds crazy I know, but it calms me down and helps me pay attention at the same time. Sometimes I just yell “NO” at myself if I am really struggling.
So, here’s a breakdown of How To Deal With OCD:
- Breathe in and out slowly with your eyes closed
- If you’re on medications, don’t forget to take them!
- Breathe in the good, breathe out the bad
- Sing a song
- Do chores
- Try fighting it. Every time you are successful at this, it will get easier.
- Say out loud what you are doing
- Manage your stress
- Believe in yourself!
For those of you out there that don’t necessarily have OCD, but know someone who does, you can help them. Be there for them, be kind. If they do odd things, don’t question them. If they want to talk about it let them. If they don’t, then that’s okay too. Help calm them down if things get bad. Never think you can just tell them what they’re thinking is totally irrational THEY ALREADY KNOW THAT.