What a Bad Day With OCD Looks Like for Me

We all have our good days, our bad days and, of course, in-between days. Some days, I feel like I can conquer all. Some days, I forget I have obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and can be 80 percent successful, but those days are very rare. Most days, I keep it mostly under control.

Then, those bad days hit and it feels like all the world’s most horrible thoughts are dumped on just me. This is where I say, again, that mental illness is not cute and that OCD is not just about being neat and organized. How I wish it was just that.

Today alone, I have:

Washed my hands at least 30 times.

Every time I needed to wash, it took me up to five minutes to convince myself I had cleaned my hands properly, turned the faucet off properly, dried my hands properly and made sure not to touch anything on my way out of the bathroom or kitchen. If I mess up or think I might have messed up (even if I am not sure), I wash again, again and again, scrubbing my skin. I do this until my hands are dry, in spite of this hot and humid weather. What should only be one wash (before eating, after using the bathroom, after handling my ducks, etc.) turns into three to five washes. Multiply that by the number of times I actually needed to wash and you end up with more than 30 times.

2. Used Clorox wipes on my hands at least five times.  

If I am still not convinced that my hands are clean, then it’s time for the Clorox wipes.

3. Spent at least an hour total wondering if I cleaned my hands well enough.

These thoughts pervade every activity I do, whether it’s watching TV, playing a game or trying to sleep. I am constantly trying to convince myself I am clean enough.

4. Cleaned out my entire teaching bag and wiped down every item inside with Clorox wipes.

The bag was in my car. The bag is dirty. It did not come in the house with me. So I stood outside by my car, with gloves on, and wiped my stuff down out in the open where neighbors could potentially see me. It is embarrassing, but that bag cannot go in the house. It is dirty.

5. Took an hour to shower.

It has been a while since it’s taken me that long to shower. Even then, I wasn’t fully convinced I was clean.

6. Bailed on a friend with plans to see a movie.

I wouldn’t have been able to handle it, plain and simple.

How can society think OCD is cute? Yes, the OCD I happen to have revolves around being clean, but that’s just the superficial description. Beneath that are the thoughts that make me think I’m not clean. There lie thoughts that tell me I didn’t clean correctly, that tell me to use Clorox wipes to be clean and that if I don’t do things a certain way I won’t be clean. It is an agonizing, paralyzing fear that courses through me and so many countless others.

I don’t know why today was such a bad OCD day. Maybe it was stress. Maybe I need a higher dosage of medication to regulate the chemicals that control my thoughts. Maybe it’s just a bad day.

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