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The OCD Compulsion We Don't Talk About


For a while now I have toyed with the idea of writing an article about the part of my OCD people don’t really seem to understand — my compulsive speech. The reason being I find it hard to find articles or media that talk about this side of OCD and feel it would be helpful to have some insight into what compulsive speech can look like. So I thought I would give it a go.

Now, when I say, “compulsive speech,” what I mean is my obsessions (thoughts) are telling me I have to say a certain word, ask a certain question, make a certain remark (no matter how embarrassing) in order for the obsession to go away. You can bet that this can be frustrating, nerve wracking, embarrassing and more to the point, bloody pointless most of the time. And boy, if you try and suppress the urge to say something, you better be in for a bumpy ride!

My OCD started when I was 19, but these “compulsive remarks” are quite a new addition to my ever growing collection of symptoms, obsessions and compulsions.

Once I say what my thoughts are telling me, I feel relief. Ahhh, that’s better — for five seconds.

So you ask, what exactly does this manifest itself as? Well, I’ll give you a recent scenario. My partner and I were watching TV together.

“Are you OK?” I said.
“Yeah, why?” she answered.
“Just wondered.”
“Are you OK?” I say again.
“Yeah.”
“Are you sure?” I ask.
“Yes!”
“Are you OK?”

This goes on for about five minutes until my partner refuses to answer — and I can’t cope with not having an answer, so I cry. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to listen to me say the same sentence five, 10, 20, times and have to answer each time.

Compulsive speech can also manifest itself in other ways. The compulsion to say, “Just checking” when asking my boss/colleagues/friends/family anything in case they take offense to anything I have said. The total urge to whisper, “Help me,” at least 20 times a day like something out of a horror movie. FYI, don’t whisper, “Help me” when you’re at a bus stop with a stranger or in line at the supermarket — it causes more problems than it solves.

This compulsion also has me repeatedly counting out loud, for no apparent reason. The thoughts slither into my brain like a black eel, waiting to escape through my mouth in repeated utterance of, “You idiot.”

The reason why I want to talk about it is because I feel I am a bit on my own with this, there is hardly any literature talking about compulsive speech and as a young person with OCD, I could have really done with an article like this to tell me I am not the only one, and that no matter what your OCD is, you are not alone.

I have learned to embrace my compulsive speech as a part of my personality, and function quite well despite this socially awkward manifestation. I am a confident, functioning adult, who has OCD — and occasionally blurts out, “Shut up” at dinner parties… and I am just fine with that.

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Thinkstock photo via LanaBrest.


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