My OCD Is More Than What You Think It Is

When I tell you I have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD)
You think of the fact that
All my books are color coded on my shelf
In order of the rainbow

When I tell you I have OCD
You think of the fact that
My backpack is clean
My binders are always in order
My locker is neat and organized

When I tell you I have OCD
You think of the fact that
It takes me hours, days to finish
A painting of a butterfly
Because it has to be perfect

When I tell you I have OCD
You think of these things,
But these things are not my OCD

My OCD is the fact that
I cannot take a shower unless the window is open
Because if the window isn’t open
The house will burn down
And I will have no way to escape

My OCD is the fact that
In the house I have lived in for the last 17 years,
I cannot go into my basement unless
I flick the light switch
On, off, on, off, on
Every single time
Because if I don’t, a murderer will kill me

My OCD is the fact that
When I get out of my car
I lock it five times
As I walk away, I lock it again
And the whole day I panic that I didn’t lock it
Because if my car is unlocked, it can get stolen, and I will be stranded

My OCD is the fact
I bring food and water with me,
Everywhere I go
Because if I don’t I will starve to death

My OCD is the fact that
I click my pen
Open, closed, open
Every time I use them
Because if I don’t I feel anxious
Anxiety can lead to a panic attack,
And panic attacks feel like you are dying

My OCD is the fact that
I cannot eat unless I am using a certain set of silverware
In my own home I get up and go to the drawer
and I inspect each spoon and fork and knife
Until I find the ones I am looking for
In others’ homes I often do the same,
Until I find the silverware that feels right
Because if I don’t use the correct silverware
Then the contaminants on the wrong set will make me sick and I will die

My OCD is the fact that
I wake up in the middle of the night
With a panic attack
Because my room isn’t clean
At 3 a.m. I get out of bed, turn on my light, and clean my room,
Closing drawers, putting laundry away and placing things in my desk
Because if I don’t I will suffocate from the mess and I will die

My OCD is the fact
I have not thrown out anything from school
Since I was in kindergarten
I have every worksheet, project, homework assignment
From kindergarten through 11th grade in my basement
Because what if I need it one day
And if I don’t have it when I need it
Then, I will be unprepared and I will fail

My OCD is the fact that
I have completed every single homework assignment
I was ever assigned
I write down my homework six times a day
And every time I think about homework,
I have to repeat it back to myself in the same way, every single time
“First period APUSH, APUSH nothing,
Then, I go to English, English project,
Then, I go to math, math worksheet,
Then, I go to chem, chem nothing,
Then, I go to Italian, Italian test on Tuesday”

My OCD is the fact that
I spend more time making sure my sticky notes
Are even along the side of my novel
Than I spend on actually reading the book
Because when they are uneven it makes me anxious,
And being anxious can lead to a panic attack
Panic attacks feel like death

My OCD is the fact that
If I get a certain feeling behind my ears
I have to take a shower, even if I just took one
Because that feeling makes me feel dirty,
And if I am dirty then I could get sick and I will die

My OCD is the fact that
Every single time I close my eyes
Every single time I have a thought
I see myself getting hurt, dying or something bad happening
The only way to get rid of the intrusive thoughts is to rip the skin from my lips,
To bite the side of my hand,
Or to claw at my upper arms and legs,
Because making the pain physical helps remove the mental pain

When I tell you I have OCD,
Please, be courteous to remember
OCD is more than just being neat
OCD is more than just being a perfectionist
OCD is not cute or romantic
OCD is more than what you think it is

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