Friday, June 7, 2013

PSA of the Day: OCD

I haven't been blogging much; time has been slipping away from me and I just haven't had the chance to sit and write, however I've got something on my mind and I know it'll be good to get it all out :)

The other day at my chiropractor's office, the chiro, massage therapist, and a client were having a discussion about things that bug them. As it inevitably does it turned into an "oh my god my ocd..." type conversation. OCD, you know, obsessive compulsive disorder; the disorder that movies have shown as someone having to wash their hands or count things. Clearly OCD is being annoyed with little things right?

Overheard conversation
"omg, I am so ocd about my microwave timer. If it's not at zero it really bugs me"
"me too! or if I find dishes in the sink after I've washed them! ugh! ocd right!?"
"ha ha, I have you all beat, I can't handle the shoes being out of line at the door, I totally have to straighten them or it'll drive me crazy"

All of these things are NOT OCD. These things are annoyances. These are things all of us dislike (to a certain extent and you can substitute whatever word you'd like instead of shoes: dishes, blankets, whatever) but they are NOT OCD.

What, pray tell, is OCD then?

Let me give you an example.

You're nine years old and go to the grocery store with mom. You've managed to turn in all of your homework on  time that week and as a result you've got five bucks to spend. You've been collecting baseball stickers for weeks and every single pack you've bought you've bought with your own money. You're so excited to go to the aisle you've gone to every single week for a month to pick out the packets of stickers. You tell mom you'll be right back, you're going to grab your stickers like you do every week when you come grocery shopping. So you confidently walk to the aisle where the stickers have been every single week for the last month and....they aren't there. You look high and low in that aisle and you can't find them and the panic sets in. You can't think; you get stuck. You look and look and finally, after starting to get concerned, mom finds you and you're in tears and you can't stop talking about where the cards were and how you can't find them and now what. Mom finds them an aisle over and you get your cards and all is right in your world, right?

No, it's not. The whole way home you talk about the cards being in the wrong spot, you talk about how you can't believe they'd move them. Mom and sissy tell you they are sorry that they were moved but now you have them, so concentrate on seeing which ones you have and which ones are duplicates.

But you can't, all you can think about is how the cards are always in the same aisle and they were switched today and then all of the sudden the same feeling you had standing in the wrong aisle kicks in and you feel like you can't breath and maybe if I talk about it again it'll make more sense. So, hey mom why were those cards in the wrong aisle? why would they switch them? who do you think switched those cards? weren't they even thinking that someone might be looking for those cards and when they couldn't find them they were upset?

By the end of that day, you're exhausted; all you wanted was the damn baseball stickers but they weren't in the right aisle and as you fall asleep you ask mom again why someone would move those stickers...and you hope that in the morning you don't have to worry about the aisle again because you are so tired and you don't want to think about it anymore.

THAT is OCD. THAT is not an annoyance; that is a panic inducing, physically and mentally exhausting OCD attack. That is what OCD is, not the microwave timer being at 4 seconds. Not your shoes being out of order. With those things you fix them and you on your way, you aren't worried about the timer being at four seconds because when it's zeroed out you're fine. When your shoes get straightened up, you don't have a full blown panic attack thinking that someone may have moved them while you were out of the house and holy shit what am I going to do and all you can think about is straightening up those shoes the second you walk in the door.

We've been pretty successful in eradicating the R word; we know that it's belittling to those who truly have mental or physical conditions that make them "retarded" in the medical sense...why is it still okay to use things like "ocd" or "a tourette's  moment" or "spazzing out" to describe your behavior when it's CLEARLY not any of those things, it's just something that bothers you or it was something you shouldn't have said or done.

We have a mental health problem in this country and it's that those suffering from mental illness can't openly talk about it because we have everyone else using medical terms to describe every day stuff.  You can't openly talk about your severe depression because "oh everyone gets depressed sometimes, just shake it off" You can't talk about the crippling panic attacks you have going to the grocery store because "it's all in your head" You can't talk about the fact that your lips are severely cracked because your Tourette's syndrome makes you compulsively lick your lips because "shit fuck damn HAHA HAHAHA Tourette's is so funny right!?"

Words have power; they can heal or they can hurt...please be aware that when you throw terms around like that you can be hurting someone; someone who is already hurting because they are dealing with that very thing every single day. Use your words to heal and help not hurt and tear people down. As the saying goes "Be kind to everyone, for you don't know the battles they're going through"

1 comment:

Marisa said...

Chrissi, Thank you so much for this. We are learning, Dane may be showing signs of OCD or possibly ODD. We've had similar situations as to the sticker one and it just upsets him so much. It's his only focus. It breaks my heart.

You're a wonderful mother and advocate. I hope I can be just as strong as you, you honestly do inspire me!


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