Not every perfectionist or germaphobe out there has OCD. Sure, there are those of us who like our closets organized in ROY G BIV color order from sleeveless to long sleeves, and each towel in the cabinet to be folded just so. And there are plenty of people who will make a to-do list, or even five, to compliment their hyper-organized life. But the “D” in OCD stands for disorder. And these actions and rituals (obsessions and compulsions) get to the disorder stage when they start to interfere with normal life. Are you constantly late to work because you must organize your closet every morning, thus resulting in losing your job? Are buried in so many lists that you spend hours of your day writing, editing, and organizing them that you forego a dinner date with friends, and then lay in bed awake every night anxious that you didn’t create the list alphabetically naming the top 100 highest grossing movie actors from 1950 to present? These are the kinds of obsessions and compulsions that transform the standard perfectionist into a person who literally suffers from a debilitating and life-altering disorder. (By the way, I do NOT have these compulsions…these are examples pulled from fellow OCD bloggers).
I would consider myself to have a mild to moderate case of OCD, though I have never been officially tested against the Yale-Brown Obsessive Compulsive Scale. My symptoms go much more unnoticed than what traditionally comes to mind when people think of OCD. It’s so boring to me to see the same old example used over and over again to describe OCD symptoms – you guessed it, the germ phobia. Sure, there are plenty of people out there with germ phobias, some of them are even OCD. But there are far more complex, interesting, debilitating, and alienating symptoms than that. Even just a quick Google search of “OCD Symptoms” can bring up some pretty incredible results. I read about someone who feared they had a specific form of cancer, and spent thousands of dollars and underwent several unpleasant tests and exams only to get a repeated negative diagnosis. They just could not be convinced.
Another story shared on the Internet described a person who went through a phase of not liking anything that was sticky. They rummaged their entire house and thew out everything sticky – gum, lotion, tape, food – and dragged it way out into the street. In bed that night, they laid awake anxious because they still felt the stickiness was too close.
The thing is, OCD is so specific to each individual sufferer. It feeds off your most irrational and unreasonable fears and obsessions to create, for many, a living hell that seems to never end. It can literally take over your life if you let it.
Getting back to my own symptoms, a lot of people will probably think, “Hey, I do that, too!” I would venture to guess that most people who meet me would have no idea that I have OCD, I’m just not that “out there” or as over-the-top as many people assume OCD sufferers are. Now you’re probably wanting to know my symptoms…you’ll have to keep reading to hear stories!