Despite being a serious and life-altering mental health problem, OCD is a term so often used as a scapegoat for people to explain everyday behaviour. People say things like “I’m sorry, I’m just so OCD!” because they want something to be a bit cleaner or tidier than it is.
Today, it is one of the most misunderstood mental health issues ! Either people have no clue about it or have totally misplaced notions.
The lack of awareness around it means that the sufferers mostly suffer silently with no idea about what is wrong with them or their mind. They don’t even know that the disorder they are suffering from is commonly known as OCD.
The reason why I’m writing about this today is because I’ve been through and suffered from this health issue for almost 20 years now, of which 15 years I spent suffering silently without even realizing what was wrong with me and understanding that I had OCD!
It was only 5 years back, when an extensive internet search about my symptoms got me to stumble upon and understand my condition. (I don’t promote self diagnosis through Google, but in my case, I must admit – it turned out to be my biggest help.) One thing led to another and finally I approached a Doctor explaining my condition – who confirmed I was having severe OCD. However, Now – I can proudly state – I’m a survivor and am on the recovery path with tremendous help and support from my family, especially my husband.
” The lack of awareness around it means that the sufferers mostly suffer silently with no idea about what is wrong with them or their mind. They don’t even know that the disorder they are suffering from is OCD.”
The biggest problem with this issue are the misconceptions around this disorder. Most people think that its just about being a cleanliness freak or arranging stuff, etc. Which is not true at all. People so proudly declare that ‘Oh I’m so OCD’ for their extra cleanliness habits. To the extent, that being called an OCD is being considered a compliment. These misconceptions have done so much damage because they have taken the focus away from the real issues. Let’s get one thing right – Just because you like to keep things extra clean and in extreme order, you are NOT OCD.
For a person really suffering from OCD, even daily routine tasks and the simplest of activities like getting ready, changing up, brushing your teeth, putting on your shoes, opening the door, switching on / off the light, etc become very cumbersome and frustrating tasks and take a massive toll on both – the individual’s time and energy.
Imagine opening and shutting the door 20 times, locking and unlocking the door several times, switching on and off the light multiple times, climbing up and down the same set of stairs 15-20 times, writing , re-writing a single line in an email doing that on repeat mode over the next 2 -3 minutes. Or, try imagining, counting a certain number or voicing a certain phrase in the head multiple times. Well, this is just the tip of the iceberg !
So, like most people ask – What leads the person to do this or go through this every single day?
Because it just doesn’t feel right. In most cases the sufferer is plagued by the idea that something disastrous like an accident or death will happen to their loved one if they don’t repeat the activity or don’t conduct their rituals, which are often repetitive behaviors. While a normal person knows that this is illogical, but the person suffering from OCD is not able to accept this as illogical, no matter how much the person tries. A person can continue to open, close, check,re-check the main door countless number of times until they get the right feeling inside their head that their loved one is safe. It might sound simple to some, stupid to others, but imagine being constantly plagued by the thought (sometimes even for complete 24 hours) that if you don’t perform a certain task a certain number of times you are risking the life of your loved one.
These are just few symptoms – the list can be endless. And often times, this condition is accompanied with depression and anxiety.
Though I don’t propose self diagnosis, I would suggest doing a simple Google search on OCD and it’s symptoms for basic awareness. The reason I’m writing down these symptoms is to help anyone suffering similarly to identify the issue.
You are not mad, you are just suffering from a disorder. Seek professional psychiatric help and you will be on the path to recovery. I’m still on medication, but the vast improvement in my condition is a testimony to the fact that seeking help is way better than suffering silently.
Over the last 15 odd years, I always yearned for someone who could just understand me, understand what I was suffering from and tell me what was wrong with me.
If anyone of you is suffering silently, please do come forward and seek help. I’m all ears and attention, in case anyone wants to talk and connect.