*Disclaimer: this article is NOT meant to diagnose or treat symptoms similar or relating to Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. This type of disorder is incredibly subjective to each and every person; nobody is the same! This article is purely for educational purposes and only reflects symptoms of one person.*
Every morning I wake up with the biggest struggle of my life--sweaty hands. My hands are constantly sweaty from all of the anxiety I have. One of my biggest triggers is hands. So every morning, I have to dry my hands to avoid touching anything with sweaty, wet hands. Throughout the day, I am conscious of what my hands touch, the texture of everything I come in contact with, and I pay attention to how the sensation makes me feel.
“Should I touch this? Will this cause me to panic?” is a common question I ask myself multiple times a day. It’s debilitating, exhausting, and annoying of how much I second guess myself.
In April of 2021, I was diagnosed with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, along with other things. Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, or OCD, is an anxiety and fear based mental illness. This causes unwanted and intrusive thoughts, or obsessions, and can result in behavioral patterns, or compulsions, that might be considered bizarre.
So what is OCD?
OCD is a mental disorder that causes a person to have unwanted thoughts. Thoughts can lead to feelings of discomfort, anger, fear, disgust, and many more. Compulsions, the second part of the disorder, help ease these strong feelings by using rituals. There are different types of obsessions and compulsions that can be broken down into categories.
Common obsessions may include:
Unwanted sexual thoughts
Harm or safety
Common compulsions may include:
Need to feel “Just Right”
A common misconception of OCD is that people are generally cleaning and organizing at any chance they can. While some people could have a cleaning obsession, most people with OCD are messy.
Having OCD is a daily challenge and struggle. I am constantly battling myself in my head with intrusive thoughts. The battle consists of wanting to check things over and over again to give me reassurance for the silliest of things. As mentioned before, my biggest contamination obsession is hand germ contamination. I don’t like being touched by hands because I see germs coming onto me. Hands creep me out, and I find them absolutely gross!
So how do I combat this obsession?
Hand washing in a strict order
Keep my hands dry as much as possible
Avoid hand touching at ALL times
Take medication when a panic attack is registered
Use three paper towels in public bathrooms
How OCD Affects Me
It was surreal when I was diagnosed with OCD. The past year has been a struggle as I’ve been learning to embrace OCD. The diagnosis affected me in different ways. I saw myself become more self-aware of my thoughts and actions, I became more invested in my mental health, and I strive to teach people about OCD; however, I was affected in a lot of negative ways as well. I’m insecure about who I am, it’s affected relationships in my life, and I saw a decline in my confidence. I became obsessed with knowing everything about my obsessive-compulsive disorder. I wanted to know how to cope and keep the anxiety at bay, and it wasn’t till just recently that I learned that I grew a fear of my OCD. I became obsessed with not having OCD-related panic attacks.
The best analogy I can think of is Raven Reyes. If you have seen The 100, then you might be familiar with the episode “Nevermore”. Raven Reyes, a character who was under the influence of Allie, the AI was being negatively affected by Allie in her mind. Throughout the episode, Raven was trying to combat Allie’s influence by reciting poems, exercising, and doing brain exercises to block her out. I can’t think of a better way to describe the feeling of trying to get intrusive thoughts out of my head.
Counting by sevens, listening to music and audiobooks, and watching my favorite shows generally help ease my mind. OCD will always be a part of my life, and it’ll always be something that I will struggle with on a daily basis. Having OCD isn’t easy, and it tends to bring more challenges into my life; however, it helps me grow as a person and opens my eyes to be a little bit more aware of my actions.