The One Aspect of My OCD I Am Certain About
Editor’s note: If you struggle with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. To find help visit International OCD Foundation’s website.
The “doubting disease.” This is what obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is sometimes called. I have found it to be completely true that having OCD makes me doubt absolutely everything.
In fact, one aspect of my OCD I can be certain about — ironically — is when I am doubting, I know it must be OCD.
Just imagine this for a minute. You are in treatment for your OCD and the night before your weekly session, a wave of anxiety comes washing over you. You think to yourself, I can’t go. I just can’t. Why can’t you go? OCD might tell you if you go, you could be taking advantage of a service you don’t really need. Maybe it says if you go, it must mean you are a terrible liar who is manipulating everyone around you into thinking you have OCD, but you really do not. OCD might say if you go, you are heading into a session that costs more than it’s worth and more than what you deserve. It might say if you go, you are pretending your OCD is really bad enough to even be there (if you even have it at all). You crawl into the fetal position and let the tears roll down your cheeks. How can you believe what anyone is telling you? You can’t trust anyone. They are either lying to you or you are deceiving them into thinking you have something maybe you do not really have! How do they know if you have OCD or not? There is no brain scan to identify your obsessive-compulsive disorder. They can’t see inside your head, so how can they possibly know? And how can you even know for that matter? Because at this point you are too confused to sort through anything.
This is what the doubting disease is like. This is what OCD feels like. In fact, I am taking a big risk in writing this because even saying the words “I have obsessive compulsive disorder” heightens my anxiety. Because I still worry if it is true. I battle my brain in this way every day. OCD takes the most important aspects of my life — the things that mean the most to me — and plays this “what if” game and makes me question it all. From my morals and my faith to my character to whether or not I even have OCD. It causes me to question every little thing. It is isolating. It is like a bully who never leaves me alone. It is never as simple as, “I have OCD because the professionals tell me I do, and I can recognize it in myself.” Rather, I think What if they are wrong? What if I am a faker? What if I am looking for attention? How do they know it’s OCD? Where is the proof?
But even with proof, I still question. I still doubt. I still ask the same questions over and over. My fears and doubts are recurring. I have been given proof of my medical conditions, tests that came back positive. One would think this would shut the OCD up. Yet, I still doubt whether or not I am really sick. What if those tests are wrong? What if…
The “what ifs” accompany the doubt and the constant worry and second guessing makes for a perfect storm, leading me into crying spells or anxiety attacks. But the one thing that seems to be able to pull me back to reality for a brief instant is knowing this debilitating worry and never ending doubt is the very essence of what OCD is.
The doubting disease.
This knowledge does not make it any easier to deal with, but knowing this isn’t me, it’s OCD, can give me a little peace of mind during an attack. I remind myself I must have it, because I am going in circles.
When this realization eases my mind, it never lasts, because I know those same fears will arise again and the doubt will overwhelm me. And this is what keeps me going to therapy, even when I do not want to. There is still a lot of work to be done because I am in the beginning stages. I will keep trying because I do not want to live my life in constant doubt and disbelief.
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Thinkstock photo via bruniewska.