“It’s like being controlled by a puppeteer. Every time you try and just walk away he pulls you back. Are you sure the stove is off and everything is unplugged? Back up we go. Are you sure your hands are as clean as they can get? Back ya go. Are you sure the doors are securely locked? Back down we go. How many people have touched this object? Wash your hands again.” — Toni Neville
Thank you to much to Ralph for submitting this guest post about a topic near and dear to me, but that I have never written about. What is OCD?
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America:
- OCD affects 2.2 million adults, or 1.0% of the U.S. population.
- OCD is equally common among men and women.
Obsessive compulsive disorder (also known as OCD) is a mental disorder, which wreaks havoc on a person’s life and relationships. In this post, we will discuss how it happens.
What is OCD?
OCD or obsessive compulsive disorder is a type of anxiety disorder where individuals have unwanted thoughts, worries, and disturbing images that compel them to do something repetitively.
A typical symptom of OCD includes checking if the main door of the house is locked even after you have checked it a few seconds before. You won’t be at peace even after your family members have verified it several times.
Another symptom of OCD involves the fear of getting contaminated by germs by using items that are not yours.
Some people feel the urge to keep things in a certain order at a specific place. They would ensure that the order doesn’t get disturbed anyhow.
How can OCD disturb your life?
The effect of OCD on your life and relationships can be truly devastating. The series of obsessions and compulsions can waste a lot of your precious time and disrupt your family life. Here’s how it happens.
It may create physical damage or injury
People with OCD have a tremendous urge to do certain rituals at a particular time meticulously. They won’t relax until the ritual is complete with perfection. The mental pressure and exhaustion caused due to long-term rituals may lead to ulcers and cardiac problems. Washing hands several times a day can lead to skin problems. Washing hair (with a shampoo) everyday can damage the scalp and lead to harmful infections.
It may take a lot of time to complete a task
Most people with OCD are perfectionists. They are always worried about losing jobs or grades at school for not being able to complete a task properly. Be it a project at school or work, people with OCD are never able to complete it single-handedly. They always feel that something is wrong or some items aren’t properly placed. Hence, they are unable to finish a task most times.
It can make your personal relationships bitter
OCD symptoms have a very big adverse effect on personal relationships. These symptoms are enough to end a beautiful relationship with the loved ones. Family members often get angry due to certain rituals performed by the individual with OCD. Family members often don’t understand the reasons behind the compulsive behaviors. As such, they get angry with that person and stop interacting with him or her. They fail to understand the fact that the individual is not doing anything by choice.
OCD symptoms can put an end to a relationship in another way. An individual with OCD symptoms often feels that her partner is unfaithful. He suspects her partner is having a relationship with another person. The constant pressure of proving oneself as faithful becomes too taxing after some point. Evidence or logic is not enough to win the trust of the person with OCD. This can create permanent damage in a relationship.
It may lead to loneliness and isolation
When you realize that your loved ones are suffering due to your uncontrollable unwanted thoughts and compulsive behavior but don’t know how to curb them, you feel crazy. You feel helpless and embarrassed. You feel ashamed and suffer from low-esteem. As a result, you tend to avoid interacting with people and that leads to isolation and loneliness.
OCD symptoms can make you feel isolated and lonely in another way. When you’re suffering from OCD, you have tremendous mental pressure for completing certain rituals. Now, some rituals are time-consuming. You feel exhausted (both physically and mentally) after completing the time-consuming ritual every day. Lack of time and exhaustion make it tough for you to mix with others. This leads to loneliness and isolation.
Isolation and loneliness may also happen due to some other reasons. For instance, a friend of mine didn’t allow anyone to use her bathrooms at any cost. She didn’t even allow her dad to use bathrooms even when he urgently needed to use the toilet. Everyone stopped visiting her house gradually. Even her dad avoided staying in her house. Due to her obsession with the cleanliness of bathrooms, she hardly stayed outside for a long period of time. She didn’t use the public bathroom due to her fear of getting contaminated with germs and catching urine infection. Everyone was pissed off and stopped interacting with her. This made her completely isolated and lonely.
What can you do?
If you’ve got OCD symptoms, then look for a good mental health clinic and consult a psychiatrist as soon as possible. Remember, when you have OCD, you’re not the only one who is suffering every day. Your family members, spouse, friends, and relatives suffer along with you. This can create resentment among them.
Do you want this illness to control your life? If not, then get help from a psychiatrist and a therapist. The psychiatrist can prescribe the medicines that can help to control your obsessions and compulsions. On the other hand, a therapist can give you and your family members the right therapy to combat the situations. Usually, cognitive behavioral therapy, exposure therapy, habit reversal therapy, and imaginal therapy are used to reduce OCD symptoms. These therapies can help you to resist compulsions and lead a normal life.
About the Author
Ralph Macey works with an upscale psychiatric facility. His work involves removing the social stigma associated with chronic mental disorders like schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, dementia, ADHD, depression, loneliness, PTSD, etc. His work focuses on the integrated interventions to improve mental health and the alternative approaches to healing. You can connect with him on Facebook.
Editor’s note: OCD is so hard to live with. I grew up with a loved one who suffered from it and I saw how hard it was, while also being affected with it myself. Just understand that if you suffer from these symptoms: It is not your fault, and there is help out there.
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