I’ve had the symptoms for as long as I can remember. I can’t imagine a life without constantly organizing my things and having a clean room with everything in its proper place. I can’t imagine how great it would be to not have my thoughts being constantly interrupted with fears and ideas that nobody wants in their head. Ever since I was little, I have had a disorder called OCD, but not until just recently did I find out that I have it. I don’t want those three letters to define me, but, sadly, I think it might be a little too late. I always thought that this disorder was just who I am, and I thought it gave me good personality traits, like being organized. Unfortunately, it has taken me fifteen years to realize that it is a disorder, and not a definition of my personality.
Just a few weeks ago, I was sitting on my couch watching some old videos of my family and me from ten years ago. The videos were all recorded by my dad on an old camcorder. One of them showed us opening our presents on Christmas day. It was so fun watching how excited my brother and sister would get when they would open their presents that showed up under the Christmas tree from Santa. As the video continued, I saw that I would unwrap a present and then spend five minutes trying to find a place to put it in my pile of opened presents. All of my focus was on that and not on enjoying the moment and the holiday. So many special moments throughout my life, that should’ve been spent with family and friends, have been replaced with the effects of my OCD.
The disorder that I thought was improving my life was slowly destroying it along with my values. Since I was five, the urge to constantly clean and organize everything has gotten worse. It takes me hours to finish homework that should only take about thirty minutes to accomplish. I can’t walk across a room without fixing an item that looks out of place. I end up prioritizing my OCD symptoms over whatever else is happening at the moment, even though I don’t want to. The amount of stress and anxiety I have has gotten way worse from when I was younger. My head is constantly spinning with my obsessive thoughts and fears. For the longest time, I thought these things I was doing on a daily basis were normal. I never thought there was actually something wrong with me. It never really crossed my mind that I could have a mental illness.
What society thinks OCD is and what they portray it to be is completely different from what it actually is. This makes it very hard for people, such as me, that suffer from OCD to really know what is going on. It also makes it very difficult to fix because some of us don’t even know we have the disorder. Society made me believe that OCD was something to joke about and that it wasn’t even a real problem. I would see the quizzes on Facebook that are titled “How bad is your OCD?” and always score 100% for having it. These quizzes very poorly portray what it is actually like having the disorder. It leaves out all the other symptoms and only focuses on how crazy it drives a person who has the disorder when they see one thing in a spot where it doesn’t belong. An example is that the quiz will ask on a scale of one to ten, how badly the picture bothers you, and it will show a picture of a bowl of m&m’s that are all blue with one red m&m that is out of place. These quizzes did not make me feel more confident about knowing if I had OCD or not. They were making it harder for me to know what was really going on.
After hearing people mindlessly joke about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I wanted to figure out for myself what the symptoms really are. I did lots of research and found out that it is a real thing that people suffer from and that the effects of OCD were not improving my life, they were ruining it. While researching, I found out that my OCD was the reason I have intrusive and obsessive thoughts. Because of what society thinks OCD is, I never knew what I was actually suffering from.
Ever since watching the old videos of my family and me on Christmas day, I have noticed how much of an effect this disorder has had on my life so far. I have found out for myself what OCD really is. After always thinking it was just my personality, I now have to face the fact that it is a disorder that is hurting the way I live and holding me back from who I really am. Most importantly, I have realized that those three letters do not define me.