This one is called “Obsessive”
I have OCD.
I was diagnosed when I was nine years old
I was in the 3rd grade but I had just dropped out
Because my teacher and my class sucked and nobody understood why I was functioning at such a low level when I was supposedly a pretty smart kid
That was at about the time that my bones started poking out from under my skin and my face lost it’s color and I only ate in small portions three times a day.
I lost a lot of weight- fifteen pounds, which was a lot for someone my age and, yeah, I guess you would assume that I had an eating disorder
At least, that’s what people on the streets probably thought
As I limped down the sidewalk, head drooped down, longing for my next meal
But my anxiety tugging at my shoulders and telling me “No. Don’t. You’ll get too full”
It sounds stupid, right? A fear of overeating? Yeah. I felt pretty stupid.
I got over that fear eventually but it didn’t happen over night, let me tell you
Because treatment for OCD is pain in the fucking ass
Not to mention tiring, especially when you’re a 52 pound nine year old trying to make her way through 3rd grade,
The major treatment method for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is doing exposures
These are also known as ERPs, or exposure response prevention
And the idea is that you slowly introduce yourself to your fears by exposure to them
And it starts out super triggering but eventually your anxiety levels start to go down and you acclimate.
At that time I was going in for treatment multiple times a week for up to three hours at a time
I remember wondering, fretting, over what the other kids would think if they knew how I was spending my afternoons:
Sitting in a big, sinking, therapy chair with an oreo on my tongue, trying to tolerate the anxiety it caused me to taste that unhealthy food
And then taking it off and wiping my mouth off with a napkin, spitting out any crumbs that might have disintegrated into my saliva
Then rating my anxiety.
Sounds fun, right?
Yeah, I know.
But you know what else? It doesn’t sound like what the average person thinks of when they think of OCD
No, I wasn’t an “obsessive hand washer”
I didn’t have to jerk my head to the side multiple times a minute or do anything in threes
I wasn’t always clean and spotless and sanitized.
And you know what else? It wasn’t fucking charming.
The thing about OCD is that if you have it, even if you get over a particular fear, it’s going to try to find it’s way back into your life and it will usually manifest into a different fear
Often little things will come up and you’ll worry that you’ll have to start going to exposures four times a week again, but it’ll usually die down.
That’s what I thought at the beginning of this summer when I started obsessively worrying that I had a fever.
I had had the fear in the past, and eventually it went away, so I figured it would this time, too.
Boy, was I wrong.
When did I know? When I started taking my temperature multiple times a day, freaking out when it was above average, which it always is because my body temp runs high
But OCD and logical thinking do not exactly go hand in hand
My parents hid my thermometer but I started doing other things to ease my anxiety
I didn’t sit back in my chair because if I did, the seat would become warm from my body heat, and I would touch it and get too anxious
I started avoiding touching other people, in fear that their skin would be cooler than mine and prove that I had a fever
I put my clothes in the dryer cycle every morning so that when I put them on, i could feel that my body was cold compared to something else.
I held ice on my wrists to try to cool down my body.
I’m still working on that fear.
Hell, I’m in therapy 4 times a week for it
But I have faith that I’ll overcome it and move on to do good things in my life
Because I’ve done it before.
So don’t pity me.
Please. Don’t pity me.
But next time you think about calling yourself OCD because you like to keep your math binder organized, catch yourself
The next time you assume that someone with neat room is obsessive compulsive and someone with a messy room isn’t, catch yourself and remember not to judge
Because you can’t tell from the outside
(And my room is a fucking pig sty, lemme tell ‘ya)
OCD is not the cute mental illness.
It doesn’t make you quirky or organized or sanitary or polite
And if you walk around telling people to stop romanticizing depression
Stop romanticizing suicide
Stop romanticizing self harm
Than you can tell people to stop romanticizing OCD.
We all have struggles in this life and it’s impossible to compare them, so let’s not try to
Let’s just try to respect each other’s struggles, no matter what they may be or what label might be plastered to them
Do you think you could try that for me?