Thursday, April 30, 2009

Some Misconceptions about OCD

After a while it gets pretty hard to write about yourself. There's only so much interesting material to delve into. That's one serious issue I have with the nature of blogging. I've never been the sort to make posts with links to various things. I'm not the sort who really blogs news. Basically all I have to write about comes from my own experience and my own interests. The occasional post about neuroscience or storytelling gets written, but the nature of those posts is pretty centred on me too.

I've written about it before, but I feel a little narcissistic writing about myself so much. I know that's not why I do this, but it is a problem that sneaks up on me now and then. I've always been pretty self critical about that sort of thing.

So while I was seeking treatment for OCD I was pretty paranoid about misrepresnting myself. If I told a psychologist I was doing rituals for 3 hours a day, I was probably doing rituals for more like 4. I just couldn't get myself to say how many hours I was actually doing because I had convinced myself that I was just seeking attention. I had this whole worry that I was just being a nuisance when I admitted to how often I was doing a ritual.

That's part of OCD actually, that whole worry that you're misrepresenting yourself. People with OCD will sometimes convince themselves that the police are looking for them to arrest them for murder. The way it works is you have a thought about killing someone you love. The thought is graphic and scary, and you are appalled by it. The thought is so real you're even a little convinced that you did kill the person, or that you're going to. SO you do something to keep from thinking the thought, to keep from killing the person. I would touch my left shoulder to my left ear 6 times, touch my left cheek with my tongue 6 times and turn around counter clockwise 6 times. Sometimes I'd do this stuff in multiples of 6. That stopped the thought. Problem there is that you have to do it more and more to stop the thought. So you'll be lying in the foetal position on your bed picturing the death of your girlfriend and doing these rituals in 6s but it just won't fucking stop.

That's one of the most terrifying things in the world. I've never had a panic attack, but I can't imagine it being much worse than this. There are little things that bother you too. It's not just that big thought that haunts you. Things not being straight is bad. If there's a stack of papers I would fix it. after exams I would go up to the front to turn it in, and spend a minute or so making sure all the papers and testing forms were in straight orderly piles. It didn't matter how embarrassed I was to be doing it, I would still go through the motions.

Eventually even stepping on cracks and segments in the pavement would bring it on, so I couldn't do that. I couldn't go into bathrooms with small tiles because I would end up stepping on lines. I had to watch where I was walking all the time.

I went to a therapist to work on this stuff, and when taking the scale (the yale brown obsessive compulsive scale) I filled it out so that the final number was a 6 and I wrote over each number six times so that it was bold and clear.

So I wasn't just into keeping my room clean. Things didn't just need to be straight. I wasn't the colloquial definition of OCD. I was the clinical definition of OCD. I imagined my girlfriend dying in gruesome ways, and sometimes imagined myself killing her. If I had bad thoughts on the sidewalk, I would lick tyres to keep them from coming on. Sometimes in going someplace I would lick the whole row of tyres.

It always annoys me when people use OCD in a colloquial way. It's always for something silly. I just can't see OCD that way. Something silly that means you like your pencils straight. I see OCD as that thing that makes some people wash their hands until they bleed, that made me so afraid I spent 3 or 4 hours a day (probably more in actuality) doing rituals to avoid seeing my girlfriends death. OCD was the thing that convinced me that I was going to slam my fist through a wall, and watch the way the rough drywall tore at my skin.

OCD isn't someone being anal. OCD is actually pretty fucking horrible.

(for those of you who are seriously anal, but enjoy keeping things straight, and who don't seem to have many other coping mechanisms I suggest you look up OCPD or Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder)


Eve Noir said...

I read most of your post & would like to comment but first I wanted to know what TYRES are. Got confused about that word...

patch615 said...

Sorry about that bit. tyre is how tire is spelled in uk spelling. so when I say tyres I mean Car tires. (never quite got to licking bicycle tyres.)

Eve Noir said...

hmmm...I left you another email. Don't know if you got it yet...

Eve Noir said...

I guess you didn't get it...cuz I didn't get a response...but then again maybe I did something wrong...cuz I freakin' hate Gmail! :(