Saturday, July 3, 2010

Watching the OCD Project

Normally I like watching the OCD project, not because I like to watch people suffer, but because it is comforting to see people doing such hard exposures and succeeding. It is also nice to see others that I can relate to, people who struggle with things I have struggled with or still do.

Today I realized that watching this show is starting to cause me some amount of anxiety. I look at the participants' reactions and think, maybe I don't know what that is like anymore. What if I can no longer sympathize? What if I never really had OCD?

I am doing so much better, even in just the last couple days. The ease with which I have transitioned and started to change my ways frightens me. I feel like there should be a giant wave of anxiety that I have to overcome. This seems too easy. What if I forget how it felt to have that much fear of irrational things? What if I never really had it as bad as they did and was just acting like I had really bad OCD, when actually, I could have gotten out of my rut at anytime if I had just decided that I didn't want to act like I had the disorder anymore.

Guess this is good exposure, watching the show, because one of my fears is discovering that I don't really have OCD, or that I am suddenly over it and don't remember what it's like to have the disorder. I want so desperately to be able to relate to others with OCD because discovering I have this disorder means so much to me. It explains so much, both past and present. The last thing I want is someone telling me, nah, you don't have OCD...see look at those that's OCD!! Then I'd be back at square one with no excuse not to do the things I feel I must do and no excuse for not trying to do things perfectly, even if I know that that perfection cannot be achieved.

Having this fear definitely makes me feel more alone and more like I don't have OCD, too. What sane person with OCD clings to their disorder if they know they are capable of more improvement? It seems like most people that I hear and read about just wish they could banish their anxiety, the symptoms of their OCD. They wish that they could go back to a time before the disorder emerged, a happier time when they were free.

For me, though, I feel like there is no such time. I feel like I have always had the disorder in one form or another ever since I can remember. There were certainly times when it was a lot worse than others, periodic flare ups that caused a lot of distress and noticeable problems, but it was always there in the background even when it wasn't bad, directing my actions and decisions and forcing me to do things I didn't really want to do. Knowing now the more subtle intricacies of this disorder gives me the hope of having a happier life even when my OCD is not particularly destructive or obvious. I am afraid of having that hope stolen from my grasp with proof that I don't have the disorder or that the disorder hasn't affected my life to the degree I thought it had. As long as I continue with my washing compulsions I have the comfort that I, as well as everyone else, can see that something is off. But as the visible compulsions slip away, I know longer have proof that I have the disorder, and my own doubt, as well as others', begins to eat away at me.

As usual I just have to keep going anyway, pushing forward despite my inability to know beyond all doubt that I have OCD.


  1. This is gonna sound weird, but hey, relax, you DO have OCD. ;) Even if you're not washing. But, even if you didn't we could still be friends. :)

    The thought patterns you describe are classic OCD...and I agree, there is comfort in knowing that there is a specific disorder that makes you tick the way you do....instead of just feeling like an oddball without a reason for what you do.

    Good for you, though, in overcoming some of the physical manifestations. And good luck with the job hunting. Or volunteering. :)

  2. Thanks! That made me smile :). Good to know that you wouldn't shun me for NOT having a mental disorder! ;)

    My therapist used to tell me that "even dogs could tell" that I had OCD...until he figured out that he was just reassuring me and fueling my doubt. As it weird as it may seem I've even written scripts about not having OCD and just being a big fake! What kind of person without OCD would ever feel the need to write about such things? I don't know...but they might be out there!

    Thanks for your words of encouragement. Writing about this fear always makes me feel like I am taking a chance, the chance someone who DOES have OCD might say "uh, yeah, no...if you had real OCD you would never fear such things!"

  3. Yeah, I had a script about this too--that I really was just unredeemable and defective. I used every account of someone else's OCD to check if I could really possibly have it. The first time I went to an OCD support group I was terrified that I'd be discovered as a fraud. I did meet a lot of people with aspects of my OCD but I also learned that I didn't have to prove I had OCD. Once there was someone who said my symptoms were "Nothing"--but I was able to recognize that she'd just started treatment and was in an OCD meltdown, that it was *her* perception, but that didn't determine my reality.

  4. I was afraid of that, too, when I joined a group. However, the group that I joined has a policy that you must stick around for a certain amount of time once you join, so I at least got to think, "well, hey, if they discover I don't really have OCD, I still get to stick around for a while!" :)

    One thing that I am still learning and working on after meeting other people who have OCD, is accepting that even if I have OCD, I may not be able to relate to and perfectly understand what it's like to have a particular person's obsessions that are different than my own. And I don't need to. I can still lend support even if my own experiences differ from others. Because no matter how hard I try to put myself in someone else's shoes, I will not know what it is like to be them! I can relate to the way OCD works - the thought processes and doubt - and can relate to the undeniable suffering that it causes, but I cannot perfectly know what it feels like to have their particular set of fears.

    Thanks for your support! It's good to know that others have had similar fears of really being a fraud!



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