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How My OCD Makes It Impossible to Say What I Feel


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 the International OCD Foundation’s website.

“Just say what you think!”

I marvel at the way some people can bring up difficult subjects. Actually, the marvel is there but quickly veers into cringing at all of the potential conflicts that a person may encounter. “All of the” is the key phrase as it relates to my obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

You see, I am a non-confrontational person. I do not avoid conflict just because I’m a nice person. I am non-confrontational because confronting difficult subjects with other people switches on the part of my brain that feels best in flooding me with thoughts of every outcome to my potential words. And then I whittle that down to the worst possible outcomes to obsess over.

And that is what I do. I’m a brilliant playwright of potential consequences. I write, in my head, vivid detail of how others will react to my thoughts with up to 20 possible conclusions. Oh, but they’re not really conclusions — they are stalemates where things could get even worse beyond that which I can even dream up.

So I can’t just “say what I think.” Because what I think is segmented into multiple nuanced ways of communicating the base of my thoughts, and parsed word-by-word before I even have the formation of words that can then be said with my mouth.

With my OCD, I am trapped in a spaghetti of potential. I need to analyze things that will happen in the future before I decide on what words to use. The difficulty here is I cannot see the future, as no human can. But my brain desires this. My brain doesn’t fantasize about me having a psychic superpower, no. My brain needs to know the conclusion before it works through the journey of communication.

I’ve been in many deep relationships with significant others, and I’ve been in situations where I need to express my desires and wants. This, of course, is normal. This, of course, can create more friction as the relationship matures, because you’ll have skipped over the easy stuff. And you’ll have passed through the almost full acceptance of quite anything that isn’t harmful. The nuanced wants and needs. I’ll have these. I’ll know why I want what I want. I’ll already have taken into consideration how much friction will occur if I utter these wants.

And then I will obsess. I will obsess over every word I plan on using to explain my want. I will go over in my head multiple — many multiple — ways I could open the conversation. I will go over in my head all of the potential back-and-forths that could happen. I’ll construct every possible way things can go poorly in laying down my wants. And I will protect myself against these things.

There have been times in my life where I’ve had all of 15 words to say to someone, and I’ve taken five to seven days — conversing with them constantly on other things — before I’ve been able to say what I want to say.

But all the while I will be spinning the word choices through my head, putting together the puzzle of the most frictionless way to say such. This is directly tied to my Pure-O type of OCD. If anything I’ve mentioned would even be considered a “compulsion,” it exists purely inward. The obsession is where all of the energy goes.

For some, being a human that can say what they think without effort is just part of how life rolls on. For me, my brain is putting in enough work to write a play. I’d rather be the former, but it doesn’t provide me the protection I need. As per my brain, only obsession can do that. And thus I will continue to obsess over how to say what I feel. Most often without ever saying it.

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