Trigger warning: this piece discusses themes of OCD.
This week is OCD Awareness Week, so I thought I'd show the world what it looks like when I have a spike in OCD symptoms while working.
It looks like nothing.
No cleaning. No sanitising. No ordering. Surprised?
If you were with me, you'd never know. Maybe you caught me drawing in my breath, or gazing off in the distance for a second - but that's it.
What does it feel like? Well, I can be working - consulting, advising, facilitating - and be struck with a sudden intrusive thought that I could say or do something obscene, which could ‘harm’ someone.
Yeah, those *weird* thoughts. You have them too, and they're a little silly, right? Maybe you've thought about driving across the centre line. Screaming at the top of your lungs in a quiet library. Stepping off a ledge. It's your brain, being creative. You move on.
But for me, this thought pops into my head and my brain goes into full panic. With a lot of therapy, I'm now able to recognise the pattern.
On a good day, I can nip it in the bud, fast. On a bad day, I can end up stuck in a loop, questioning my morals, trying to figure out whether I'm actually an [offensive]-ist (flavour of the day can change), and getting myself in an endless, pointless, internal battle of reason. And on a very, very bad day, OCD accuses me of being the worst human being to have ever existed, and that I don't deserve to be here. Two years ago, it landed me in crisis.
I know it doesn't make sense. OCD doesn't make sense.
I live with Pure-O with mainly harm themes. It's literally all in my head. It can be utterly exhausting. Imagine having a reel of your worst nightmare on a loop while trying to function. This is OCD.
OCD is not an asset. In fact, many with OCD are unable to work. I'm super fortunate mine is well-managed.
It is ridiculed, stigmatised and misunderstood. So this #OCDAwarenessWeek I wanted to reshare a few facts, especially because I've been hearing some good ol' office jokes lately.
While ordering, symmetry and contamination are subtypes, those who perform these compulsions are miserable. Their brain tells them that if they don't, something catastrophic will happen to them, their loved ones, or something they care about.
So chances are if you THINK you have OCD because you need your post-its in a line, you don't. It's your preference. Or perhaps, pedantry. Someone with OCD wouldn't find it funny, and wouldn't point it out to others.
Ironically, I'm SO MUCH MESSIER when I'm struggling, because I can't think straight. Tidying isn't actually a priority when I'm catastrophising.
So next time, you start the sentence ‘forgive me, I'm a bit OCD about…’ please don't.
OCD - it's not what you think. Quite literally.
Voices of Hope wants you to know that you do not have to do this alone. Click here to ‘find help’ - it’s not weak to speak!