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I Do Not Fit In Your OCD Box

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Having obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is lonely. Now don’t get me wrong, I know it can be lonely living with any disorder. I’m diagnosed with three different disorders myself, but out of them OCD has isolated me the most. I feel like people with OCD are less likely to tell someone else about it. We are supposedly, after all, what the media has shown people: We all wash our hands a lot (some of us don’t), we all have compulsions (some of us don’t), and we all act the same way (no). People do not understand that like any other disorder, each person with OCD acts differently. And it’s not just OCD. Not everyone who is depressed wants to die, not everyone with bipolar disorder has sex with a lot of people, and not everyone with anxiety curls up in a ball as soon as they have an attack.

OCD has left me socially isolated. It gives me multiple reasons for not going anywhere.

For me it’s the constant thought of what can go wrong. It’s when I wake up that day and am anxious so I cancel, but then I feel guilty for canceling. It’s when I can’t make plans that are at night because I have to be up by 8 a.m., but I also have to have seven hours of sleep or I’m anxious and thrown off. It’s not being able to control when I can leave somewhere, especially when I’m not the one driving. It’s for the times I’m late because I have to check things to make sure they’re off, locked and put away. It’s having an anxiety attack during class because I can’t find my glasses, and if I don’t know where they are millions of negative thoughts flood my head. It’s when I have to text my mom to look around for my glasses because I can’t calm down until I know where they are. It’s thinking back on things I said to someone and worrying how they took it. Then it’s randomly apologizing to that person and them having no clue why I’m apologizing. It’s when people say they’re OCD is acting up, and I think if you only knew.

When people want to make plans, I have two choices: say no or go out and fake being happy even when I’m having an extreme amount of anxiety. I just say no, and now I don’t get invited anywhere, and I don’t blame people for that. They do not know I have OCD, and they don’t understand how it affects me.

I was diagnosed in high school, but was told I’ve had OCD for longer than that. I had never been educated on my disorder by someone who had the proper education on it. Instead I’d see what was on the media and think my “normal” disorder behaviors were not normal and I had something else going on. Because I thought everyone had to fit in that box you see of people with a mental illness only acting one way.

I have let my OCD isolate me, but maybe if someone educated me, I wouldn’t be isolated.

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Thinkstock photo by James Woodson

Originally published: November 21, 2016
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