Jun 082014
OCD Hack - Giving Gifts

Many of my obsessions and compulsions center on worries about harming other people. I over-wash so I don’t contaminate others. I over-worry about the safety of others. Beyond these, however, I’ve also found myself at times obsessing about secretly insulting people. A prime example of this is something I’ve struggled on-and-off with over the past several years.

At some point my brain latched onto the fact  that the word “four” and “whore” rhymed. My OCD took off with that. If I was texting a friend, groups of four letters or four words were stressful. For example, if I texted, “Have a nice day!” to someone, my OCD told me that I was secretly calling them a whore because there were four words in the text, and “four” rhymed with “whore.” It didn’t matter if they would never know this themselves. It was enough to fill me with guilt. This obsession would also appear when I worked with numbers at work. If I happened to be thinking about someone when I typed a “4″ on my computer, I’d feel like I was calling them a whore, and would have to retype the number. Retyping the number did one of two things in my mind: it either gave me a chance to type it while not thinking of that person, or if I couldn’t not think of the person, typing the second four would represent me, as in, “Hey, I’m calling myself a whore too! We’re in this together!”

Of course, as with most of my obsessions and compulsions, this is illogical and I of course wouldn’t call any of my friends whores. But the anxiety over this is real and incapacitating.

One day, I had a slight epiphany.

All of this time I was focused on avoiding the negative (made-up) impact on my loved ones that made me give in to OCD. But I never considered the positive REAL  impact on my loved ones if I didn’t give in to OCD. People have been able to beat OCD by not giving in to it. Each time I refused to give in to OCD would be a little gift to my loved ones, another step in the right direction. A step toward healing and a step toward less stress in my life and theirs. This gave me extra strength to fight – I wasn’t fighting my obsessions and compulsions simply because I knew I SHOULD, I was now fighting them because each victory was a little present that (whether they knew it or not) I was giving to my family and friends. Suddenly, some of my inner monologues started looking like this:

“Oh, I just typed a four while thinking about ____________. I should go back and retype that.
No, wait! Screw OCD, I’m NOT going to give in. It will be my gift to ____________. She will be much happier if I beat OCD.”

When I reframed it in this positive way, I started seeing some positive results. This “gift-giving” method has been helpful to me, and I hope it will be helpful to you.

Do you have any “hacks” that help you deal with/beat OCD?


Mar 162014
You're Not Alone And You're Not Weird

Well, not weirder than we all naturally are.

One of the cool things about this blog seems to be that it helps us realize that the things we struggle with secretly are things that LOTS of people struggle with secretly. Many of us struggle with similar things, but we think we are the only ones. To help break down that barrier and let you all know that the things you may be OCDing about are natural and not weird, I’m going to list below some of the things that I have or am struggline with OCD-wise. Maybe you will see something on this list that you have or are struggling with. If you do, please realize that it is a common struggle, it’s just that a lot of times we are too embarrassed to say that we struggle with it.  So here, in no particular order, is a list of past/present OCD struggles I’ve had:

Worrying that I was pregnant because I thought something wrong
Worrying that I was pregnant because I touched or was near a boy
Worrying about contamination from germs/chemicals
Worrying that I would cause harm to a loved one if I thought the wrong thing at the wrong time
Worrying that normal touch was somehow inappropriate and therefore removing myself from normal physical interactions like handshakes, hugs, interacting with kids, etc.
Worrying that thoughts or physical contact could change my sexual orientation
Worrying that I would offend God if I thought something blasphemous, offensive, etc.
Worrying that I had to confess every single sin or I couldn’t have healthy relationships with others and/or God
Worrying that I could affect the future of my loved ones with my thoughts and rituals
Worrying that thoughts of contamination would cause real contamination on my hands, clothes, objects I used everyday, etc.
Worrying that masturbation was dirty or bad or contaminating
Worrying that wearing a certain color was bad/sinful
Worrying that some numbers/letters were powerful or bad or good or had an affect on what would happen to me or my loved ones

These things are just a partial list. But the good news is that all of these things are not true, they are just what OCD wants us to believe. A lot of these things are very personal. Loved ones, sexuality, and beliefs seem to attract OCD obsessions like a magnet. OCD wants to take the things we hold dear and twist them into something that causes fear, torment, and pain. OCD is a monster. But we are one step closer to defeating it when we drag it out into the light and see not only the monster, but also the great number of other people who are fighting alongside us.

 March 16, 2014  Uncategorized 5 Responses »
Feb 182014
Clothes Call

(This is an article I wrote a few years ago when I struggled with a laundry-related OCD manifestation. Thankfully, this particular obsession/compulsion seems to have cycled out.)

There comes a time in every person’s life when she/he must ask herself/himself a very important question: “Why am I sitting in front of the computer with no clothes on?”

A very important question, to be sure. (And no, the answer does not involve Internet porn.) When I asked myself this important question just minutes ago, the answer was simple: OCD. For some months now, my OCD has been telling me that certain just-washed things are contaminated. Yesterday while looking in the dryer for a t-shirt to wear to bed, I was overwhelmed with that certain “OCD” feeling – you know what it’s like: anxiousness, stress, impulse – that made me feel like the shirt that I just pulled out of the dryer was contaminated. Not by chemicals, germs, or anything like that – just by my thought that it might be contaminated. Just the thought of it being contaminated made it seem to my mind as if it was. Many of our OCD impulses go away or lessen considerably if we just delay the doing of the compulsion that our obsessions cause. But I became stressed quickly, and gave in. I threw the clean, dry t-shirt in the dirty laundry pile and grabbed another shirt.

Today, the bedclothes I actually wore last night were thrown in the dirty clothes pile not long after I got up. They were not “dirty” in the classical sense. But into the pile they went anyway. But now what would I wear tonight? No problem – I had a similar pair of pajama bottoms and another shirt to wear. Both clean. But wait – crap. Now I “felt” like those pajama bottoms were contaminated. In fact, I felt like all the clothes in the clean clothes basket with the clean pajama bottoms must be washed again. No one touched them but me. But the feeling was overwhelming, even after I called my Dad and asked him (as I always do – perhaps to the detriment of my recovery, but dangit, he’s so nice about it) for reassurance. So, I packed up all my clothes from the clean basket, the dirty pile, and the ones in the dryer, and stuffed them into the washing machine. Then I took off the clothes I was wearing. (After all, they felt contaminated now.) So into the washer went my Capri pants, my tank top, and my undergarments. I had, for the moment, given in to my OCD.

Failure is never fun. Yes, I feel better that my clothes will soon be clean, but who’s to say they’re not going to also feel contaminated this time I remove them from the dryer? That is the horrid cycle of OCD. I’m not afraid to say it. I have had some spectacular (or so they felt) wins. Glorious moments when I have soared on the wings of conquest around the golden sun of victory. And then tonight, like Icarus, I have considered soaring, perhaps even gotten into the air a bit, then lost altitude, crashing into a cow pasture onto a steaming mound of OCD and drawn-out analogy.

On the upside, since I’ve started writing this entry, my clothes have finished in the washer and are now in the dryer. I’m going to wear the first pajama bottoms and t-shirt that I pull out of that dryer. That’s my plan of action. Tomorrow is a new day, filled with the possibility of more victory, less laundry, and better analogies than tonight.

 February 18, 2014  Living with OCD 4 Responses »
Feb 172014

To the casual observer, I look pretty normal. Friendly, talkative, humorous–that’s who I am and that’s the persona I project. My family and friends know, however, that behind these public traits I have a dark struggle that torments me every day.

I have OCD.

OCD stands for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. These three letters have woven themselves deep into the fabric of my life since grade school. It wasn’t until high school that I even realized that my “quirkiness” had a name. Since then, I’ve learned much about the disorder and myself. But while medication and therapy have helped immensely, my OCD is never really gone.

If you are not familiar with OCD, Wikipedia has a good article about it. This excerpt from that article sums up some of the basics:

Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder characterized by intrusive thoughts that produce uneasiness, apprehension, fear, or worry; by repetitive behaviors aimed at reducing the associated anxiety; or by a combination of such obsessions and compulsions. Symptoms of the disorder include excessive washing or cleaning; repeated checking; extreme hoarding; preoccupation with sexual, violent or religious thoughts;relationship-related obsessions; aversion to particular numbers; and nervous rituals, such as opening and closing a door a certain number of times before entering or leaving a room. These symptoms can be alienating and time-consuming, and often cause severe emotional and financial distress. The acts of those who have OCD may appear paranoid and potentially psychotic. However, OCD sufferers generally recognize their obsessions and compulsions as irrational and may become further distressed by this realization.

Many of the symptoms I have are frustrating and embarrassing. I will be sharing some of them with you. Maybe you or someone you know has OCD. Maybe you thought you were the only one who had such embarrassing OCD symptoms. But maybe by reading about some of my secrets, you’ll realize that what you considered “strange” isn’t so very strange after all.

 February 17, 2014  Living with OCD 1 Response »
Feb 102014

OCD is a lousy companion. It doesn’t care what you want. It doesn’t care about embarrassing you, making you cry, or ruining a perfectly good day.

In spite of this, sometimes we go easy on OCD. We give it space in our head. We listen to it and think, well, I don’t want to do this, but I’d better, just in case…


OCD needs to be vanquished. And one of the first steps to vanquishing it is to realize that OCD is an asshole. OCD doesn’t have your best interests in mind. OCD doesn’t want you to be comfortable or happy or carefree. OCD loves it when you are anxious, sad, and doubtful. OCD wants to pee in your cornflakes and burn down your house. So let’s call OCD what it is: a monster.

Sometimes we need to be reminded that OCD is a monster so we don’t go easy on it. We don’t appease monsters, we fight them. Some fights we win. Some fights we lose. But the important thing is that we FIGHT.

Keep fighting the monster.

 February 10, 2014  Living with OCD 8 Responses »