I have obsessive-compulsive disorder, or OCD, as it’s commonly called. Some of my goals with this blog are to educate people about OCD and to be an advocate for others with OCD.
There are a lot of misconceptions about OCD in popular culture. I’m linking up with Nancy’s A Rural Journal again for Random 5 Friday. I thought I’d use my 5 random facts to go back to the basics about OCD.
1. OCD is an anxiety disorder. It is a mental illness. OCD causes intense, debilitating anxiety that can affect every aspect of a sufferer’s life.
For me, OCD changed the way I interacted with others, dictated what I did and did not do with my life, and caused me so much distress, I at one time contemplated suicide.
2. According to the website of the International OCD Foundation, 2 million to 3 million adults and about 500,000 children and teenagers in the United States have OCD.
I started having symptoms of OCD when I was a little girl. I was probably around 7 or 8 years old when I started my counting compulsions. I was around 11 or 12 years old when I started having symptoms of religious OCD and reading OCD. My symptoms were at their worst when I was in my mid-twenties, before I was diagnosed and started treatment at age 26.
3. OCD includes obsessions, or uncontrolled thoughts about specific things. The obsessions cause intense anxiety. Some obsessions that I’ve had center around harm to others, safety, religion, morality and contamination.
One example of an obsession that I suffered from for years was that I was completely responsible for the safety of my family.
Others with OCD may have different obsessions. For example, not everyone with OCD obsesses about contamination.
4. OCD also includes compulsions, which are actions taken to try to get rid of the anxiety caused by the obsessions. Some compulsions I’ve done include cleaning, checking, rereading texts, counting and praying.
For example, years ago, I compulsively prayed, believing that if I didn’t pray in a certain way and perfectly, harm would come to my family. I could spend hours praying the same prayer over and over, trying to get it “right.” I couldn’t define “right.” It only felt “right” when the anxiety receded for a while.
Compulsions may get rid of the anxiety, but it’s always temporary. The obsessions and anxiety come back. So OCD sufferers repeat the compulsions over and over and over, trying to rid themselves of the anxiety.
5. OCD is treatable. Medication and therapy can be very helpful to those suffering from OCD. Exposure and response prevention therapy is especially helpful.
I take medication and also do ERP, and I have come so far since the days when OCD controlled most of my life.
It’s important for people suffering from OCD to get treatment. Help is available, and sufferers can get better. I am living proof of that.
A good source for information about OCD is the International OCD Foundation.
If you’d like to share your own Random 5, link up with Nancy’s blog.
Is there a subject that you’d like the public to know more about, or that you believe is not treated fairly in popular culture?