As you know by now, I have OCD. And I’m not just saying that in the, I-always-have-to-put-the-right-sock-on-before-the-left kind of way. I have actually been diagnosed with OCD. And let me tell you, it was a huge relief! Imagine having a million weird little quirks that you can’t quite explain and then all of a sudden, some crazy therapist lady with a slightly hippie appearance (but a legitimate professional background) puts a label on it for you. And tells you you’re normal!
Well, for someone with OCD.
Anyway, it was a feeling of liberation! I know there is much debate over the ethics of diagnosis, and whether or not it does more harm than good for a patient. But for me, it was a postive experience. Finally, I had the missing piece to pull it all together. A diagnosis. Something to research. I think deep down I knew I had OCD, but I had never labeled myself as such, and neither had anyone who graduated from a psychology program. So I went through life just thinking I was quirky.
That day in the therapist’s office was a long time coming. Years and years in the making. As a child, I was a perfectionist to the core. I was a natural-born leader, which my teachers recognized immediately. I would always be assigned the desk right next to the naughtiest kid in class. Supposedly, this is a trick many teachers use to reign in their rowdiest pupils. This didn’t bother me too bad – at first. Because as an elementary student, you always have something to look forward to – the best day in a child’s primary school life – the day the desks get rearranged! So I would sit next to the naughty kids, patiently waiting for the day when we would walk into the classroom and, low and behold, the desks would no longer be arranged in rows of 6, but in pods of 4! Like all my classmates, I would run around the room looking for my name tag, only to find it in the same pod as the naughty kid. And so defined grades 1-5.
These small signs of perfectionism slowly crept their way into other facets of my life. I remember my mom escorting me to the bus stop down the street and making me wait to be the last one on the bus. Apparently, word had gotten out that I always had to be first. And I started to become obsessed with fairness, mostly for my own benefit. If my sister and I split a piece of peanut butter bread, I had to have the bigger half, because it wouldn’t be fair, to me, to get a smaller piece than her.
The interesting thing about OCD is that symptoms change as the person and their life situation changes. No, I do not obsess about getting the best bite of the DQ Blizzard I occasionally share with my husband (however, I am still very protective of my food – keep that fork over at your own plate!) Just knowing I have OCD, having that diagnosis, has helped me to better understand the way my mind operates so I can actively work on controlling the obsessions and compulsions. I was happy to be diagnosed, because now I can face my OCD head-on.
PS – the boating this weekend went wonderfully, despite everyone reminding me of the terrible boating accident last weekend and the numerous “be safe!” pleas. I’m still bothered that it took me 3 times to park the boat in the lift (ugh, pathetic!), but I faced my anxiety and I think everyone had a great time.