Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is an anxiety disorder that occurs when a person gets caught in a cycle of unwanted and intrusive thoughts. These thoughts trigger distressing feelings and cause the person to feel driven to engage in repetitive behavior, compulsions.
Read Marie’s story below of how she learned of her not-so-typical OCD and what she is doing to combat her symptoms.
My OCD breaks the stereotypes, which is part of the reason it took me so long to receive a proper diagnosis. Before my diagnosis, I assumed that OCD only meant fear of germs and the need to have everything just right. I had only heard the term OCD used to describe people who like to be organized and lined up their Skittles by color. Now I know it is so much more.
OCD and Stereotypes
I began to break stereotypes, or so I thought when I was fifteen. Fifteen-year-old girls are not what comes to mind when people think pedophile, but because of my OCD, I was convinced I was an anomaly. I remember watching a movie with younger children in it when I was in high school. I barely remember the plot of the movie because all I could think about was whether or not I was sexually attracted to those kids. Barely more than a kid myself, I knew something was wrong, but I had no idea that OCD was the answer.
People often called my best friend “OCD” because her room was clean, and she color-coded her notes. However, no one ever accused me of “being so OCD” because my OCD was not stereotypical. My room floor was littered with my belongings, my planner was messy, and I could not stop worrying that maybe I was a pedophile.
I did not start to realize that something was wrong until I was in high school, but I have memories of OCD all the way back to preschool. I remember accidentally speaking out of turn and being flooded with a guilt that weighed me down until I confessed my crime to my mom, who looked confused and told me that everything would be okay.
Later that year, in a preschool celebration, I got a fortune cookie with no fortune. Convinced I must have swallowed the fortune and would thus die, I asked my mom repeatedly if the paper would kill me. It took multiple explanations of how fortune cookies don’t always have fortunes before I was satisfied, and even after I stopped asking, the worry still lingered.
OCD Behavior Patterns
The pattern of confessing and reassurance-seeking continued until it became completely overwhelming in my first year of high school. Each night I would turn off the lights and call my mom into my room. Filled with guilt and shaking with fear, I would confess every possible bad thing I did and bad thought I had. The lists got longer and longer to the point that my mom would say that she had to go to bed before I had finished and I would beg her to stay, thinking that confessing my fears to her was the only way to feel better.
My OCD Treatment
I eventually made the decision to seek intensive treatment and miss some school because my OCD became too much to manage with only weekly therapy. I worked hard in an intensive treatment program for three months before, at last, I graduated and felt ready to face the world again. I would like to say that I had no problems after that, but unfortunately, I still deal with OCD two years later. I know how to manage it now with strategies I have learned in therapy, but it still catches me off guard often. I still go to therapy once or twice a week to keep learning new strategies to combat OCD.