I hate NOT working. One of the worst things from my experience with OCD is that unless I'm keeping myself busy, everything is worse. Rather than being distracted with important things that actually matter, I'm instead just left alone with my thoughts.
And when your thoughts are as annoyingly trivial and repetitive as "I have to flick the light switch on and off a hundred times before it 'feels right'" then those thoughts can be EXTREMELY exhausting.
So, when I'm busy and working, I really don't deal with as much obsessive thoughts and behaviors. When I'm teaching, for example, I've never had to stop what I'm doing to wash my hands, wash my hair (thank goodness), or perform any of the other dozen repetitive tasks I tend to do. My mind is preoccupied with other, more important matters. This has been true for as long as I can remember. You might think that if I'm stressed with work or school, then that would make me more anxious and stressed with OCD, but that's just not the case. I don't have time for OCD when I'm busy.
Here's a common misconception people have about OCD that I really want to debunk: If you have OCD, you're a germaphobe. I mentioned this in a previous post, but this is not always the case. True, some folks with OCD have a fear of germs and contamination, but not me. I am not a "clean freak," and one quick glance at my car will tell you that. I'm not triggered when something isn't clean; I'm triggered when something isn't right. This is very difficult for me to explain, so here's an example: If I touch a door handle, and there is a texture on the handle that I wasn't really expecting (a scratch, for example), well that's not right. Something is wrong, and until I wash my hands and "reset" I will not get that sensation of touching that handle out of my mind. The same is true with light switches. If I was afraid of germs, then obviously I wouldn't repeatedly flick a light switch dozens of times. I just do it until it feels "right." Honestly, I don't really know the difference a lot of times between something feeling right and something feeling wrong, which is why the repetitive behaviors go on for so long. Even when I know with 100% certainty that I locked my front door, I will stand at my front door jiggling the handle (an OCD behavior us in the know call "checking") until it feels "right." I have even left my home, driven to work, and then immediately got back in my car to drive back home and check my front door. The entire time I'm doing this, I KNOW I locked my door, but I have to check anyway.
That's why I avoid door handles or really touching anything. I don't want to deal with the repetitive checks. Mostly, I'm ok with using my sleeve to cover my hand, but when my OCD is feeling like being particularly shitty, I can't touch the handle at all with my hands, so I'll use my elbows instead. Door handles: easy to open with elbows. Doorknobs: absolute hell.
Stuff being dirty doesn't bother me. Stuff not being right does.
So when I'm working, and I'm busy, I'm golden. But when I'm not then I'm just alone with my thoughts. When you have OCD, and you know all of the stupid, annoying, and repetitive rituals you are going to perform throughout the day, sometimes it's really tempting to just not do anything at all. I could go camping with my family, but I also really don't want to constantly be washing my hands and hair while I'm there. I could hang out at a friend's house, but I also really don't want to have to explain why I'm constantly checking to make sure my car is locked. I could go on a romantic Valentine's date at a fancy restaurant (because miracles can happen), but I really don't want to deal with having to sit in a specific chair because the other chair had a small tear in it, and just because I saw the tear I need to wash my hands, and then I do, and then I return to the table, but my hand accidentally brushes the wrong part of the table, so I have to wash my hands again, and then I return to the table, and at that point she's gone, and it looks like I'll just be eating Taco Bell at home again.
When you know a good portion of your day is composed of performing the same tasks over and over to briefly relieve a form of stress that you don't even understand yourself, it's sometimes too tempting to avoid all of that and just stay in bed. I've learned that I can't allow myself to do that. OCD sucks, but OCD coupled with Depression is infinitely worse.
So I'm making more of an effort to do more. My OCD was the easiest to deal with in college. I attended school full time, had a part time job, and lived with roommates who always kept me busy. Things didn't get really bad until I started living alone and feeling alone. Currently, I still live alone (with 2 cats. Again, not crazy), but I don't feel alone.
I feel supported, happier, less anxious, and way more prepared to leave my home WITHOUT coming back to check my front door.
Hello! My name's Kyle. I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I hate it, but managing it has produced stories that I feel are worth sharing. Hopefully this platform can provide those struggling with mental health disorders an outlet for comfort, support, and even some humor. Not everything I post will be amazing, but I promise I will have checked every last detail, no matter how insignificant, way more times than necessary before posting.