Well, not really. They are normal, however, for somebody who suffers with OCD.
You see, it’s taken me about ten minutes to write this sentence. Not because it’s groundbreaking. Not because it’s eloquent. Because it previously contained too many Fs and Ps. F and P are bad letters. F and P will kill the first family member who reads this article. And it will be my fault.
Let me explain a little more.
What OCD is not
See, OCD is not what you probably think it is. You most likely think of a person with OCD as somebody excessively tidy, maybe overly clean. But I’m not tidy at all. In fact I’m quite the opposite – in many cases I’m a mess.
OCD, or ‘Obsessive Compulsive Disorder’ is serious mental illness, a condition where the sufferer has obsessions – something that raises their anxiety, often to a point where it’s completely intolerable or possibly close to asphyxiating (well, maybe not quite, but it feels that way) – and compulsions which, put simply, are often extravagant things you do to lower your anxiety again.
So, in the case of my sentence above, writing Fs and Ps raises my anxiety because my mind and body genuinely believe that something bad will happen (the ‘obsession’). Deleting them a set number of times, in my case 9, and then replacing them with different letters or retyping the F or P a ‘lucky’ number of times reduces my anxiety again (the ‘compulsion’). Without doing this I could be in a state of panic, completely shut down, with major migraines and body pain, for hours on end.
You’re probably reading this getting confused. After all none of this makes logical sense. Obsessions and compulsions are not logical, yet cause the sufferer immense pain if not completed.
Going back to hygiene. Hygiene and cleanliness for a person who suffers with OCD are often completely arbitrary, at least compared with the scientific definition. You see, I might be terrified of becoming sick or making my friends sick. Therefore I scrub my hands with disinfectant, sometimes even watered down bleach, to alleviate the risk. The fact that washing with bleach isn’t going to help me is irrelevant. The fact that my hands are only clean if I’ve washed them an even number of times (and are unclean / will make somebody sick if odd) is illogical. My house might be dirty – that doesn’t matter.
Leading a double life
I’ve suffered with OCD for over 20 years, along with a number of other debilitating mental illnesses. I’ve always kept my illness secret. I have a full time well-paying job, yet I lead a double-life. The life I can (somewhat) control, that my friends and acquaintances see – outside of my mind; and the one I can’t – embedded deep, out there to kill me. I’ve decided to write this blog anonymously.
Despite common misbelief the stigma of mental illness still exists. We are in the 21st century yet women are on a different religious category in places of worship, transsexual people can’t join the US army, and mentally ill people can’t attempt to live a regular life without fear of resentment.
I would love to raise the visibility of this blog, so please share. I hope you can follow me through this. My next posts will include typical obsessions and related compulsions, many of which can be extremely embarrassing and tormenting. I’ll also be talking about Bipolar disorder, sexual OCD, stigma, gender differences, and more.
Thank you for reading.