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What It's Like Living With 'Just Right' OCD


When most people think of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) they think about obsessive hand-washing and characters like Monk from TV. They picture someone lining up their shoes in a perfectly straight line. They may imagine themselves as being “so OCD” when they prefer to have things done a certain way.

There are many ways OCD manifests: checking, contamination, ordering, hoarding, rumination and intrusive thoughts to name a few. One that is so commonly misunderstood (or not talked about at all) is called “Just Right” OCD (see also “Tourettic OCD“).

“Just Right” OCD has been a monster that has controlled my thoughts, actions and feelings since I can remember. I’ve gone from a little child putting on her shoes over and over again, to a full-grown adult avoiding the color red, simply because it is “wrong.” This subtype of OCD is often hard to diagnose and treat as it doesn’t present its symptoms in the way “classic” types of OCD do. Unlike others types of OCD — which evolve around a specific feared outcome — my “Just Right” OCD is controlled by a terrible feeling that something is “not right.” This feeling can get so bad it is actually painful to avoid doing the compulsion. My compulsions can include tapping, touching, mental compulsions (like looking at things a certain number of times), ordering and counting. They have evolved from simple compulsions like counting to three while tapping, to tapping in patterns of “good” numbers. It is a constant mental battle I have to fight daily.

I have “good” numbers and “bad” numbers. The same goes for colors. My bad numbers are six, nine and 13, while my good, safe numbers are three, 12 and 14. I can’t do anything in a multiple that relates to the bad numbers. If I look at the color red I have to find something blue or green or it feels like my eyes are on fire. The worst part of this OCD is that it makes absolutely no sense, even to me. However, these urges and thoughts control my life in a way that is almost unexplainable.

I go through my day searching for a “Just Right” feeling and by the end of the day I am mentally and physically exhausted. I am exhausted just from typing this, from touching the keyboard just the right way.

I feel it’s important to get the word out about “Just Right” OCD. I was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, depression and anxiety all by the age of 8. As a child, I went through numerous medications and dozens of doctors to try to “fix” me and due to the lack of understanding of my condition I was given up on. I, in turn, gave up. Until this year I have suffered in silence while being controlled by my OCD monster. I have now found an amazing therapist who is helping me understand what my OCD is and how to overcome it. I am no longer a misunderstood case, and I hope this helps someone out there who has spent years struggling as well.

If you would like more information on this type of OCD, click here.

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Getty image via Natalia-flurno