Ok, deep breath.
I mentioned to you before that I have OCD.
Well, today has been a really tough day.
I was working on a project earlier that seemed to take my attention most of the day (4 hours to be exact). The problem is that in reality it should have been done in about 10 minutes.
Why did it take me so long? I was caught up in the details, details, details. Examining, rearranging and then redoing it all over again.
You see, ever since I was a little girl I have been “different” or “weird”.
My mom would tell me to go clean my room and she wouldn’t understand why I would consistently feel the need to clean my drawers and closet while the rest of the room was a mess.
Cleaning was a source of anxiety for me because no one knew or understood that I felt that the drawers HAD to be cleaned first for it to be done “right”. That picking up a handful of items could take me hours because each item needed to be folded perfectly or to be tiptop clean. Next, I needed to catalog the information in my brain. I needed to “think” about the important information about each item and the reason why I liked that particular object.
I did other “weird” things.
I would spend hours and hours “picking” items from catalogs. Our J.C. Penney and Sears catalogs were riddled with my initials where I had written and rewritten them over and over again on each page. I would spend hours doing this, only to go through the same catalog a few days later. It was fun for a little while, but I felt that I had to do it not that I wanted to do it. The key word here being: “HAD”.
I called my rituals and way of thinking “My Game”.
I had no clue why I did the things I did. It was just what I knew and the way I was. It didn’t have a fancy term.
Once, I became older, I eventually was able to give my condition the proper name OCD. (I still generally refer to it as “My Game” to this day.)
Even though my condition now had a name, I still felt alone. I didn’t fit the norm of what you usually think of when you hear the term OCD. I didn’t wash my hands till they were raw. I wasn’t afraid of germs. I didn’t recheck the door to make sure it was locked. I wasn’t “Monk”.
A few weeks ago, I found an article that talked about my type of OCD. I was so happy, because for the first time I wasn’t so alone. This article described ME.
I have Perfectionist OCD.
A Perfectionist often sets extremely high standards for themselves and set a lot of goals.
I have a lot of goals and set extremely high standards for myself as well. The difference between a perfectionist and a person like me with OCD is that the perfectionist is likely to achieve them. The perfectionist with OCD rarely achieves or finishes a task because they set impossible standards and find nothing they do to be good enough. So they find themselves always moving in circles just to find themselves back at square one.
The average person can take a glass out of a dishwasher and put it away and mark it off their chore list. I take it out of the dishwasher and then must hold it up in the light to check for spots or blemishes. Then it must be spaced perfectly in the cabinet. The ritual can sometimes take up to 10 minutes for one glass. That’s if the glass doesn’t need to be rewashed of course.
Try to clean a house with that attention to detail. How much do you think you would actually accomplish in a day?
You may have just spent 4 hours straight cleaning and only have a dishwasher worth of dishes to show for it. I know, because that is, at times, my reality.
I joke that I’m perfectly imperfect. I know that the standards are impossible to ever achieve and yet I don’t know how to stop my brain from making me feel that something needs to be done a certain way in order for it to count as “right”.
I know that a lot of people joke about OCD. It seems silly and irrational. I joke about OCD and I have it. It is silly and irrational.
But OCD is so much more than that. It’s frustrating, emotionally draining and it strangles you. For the people that love you it is that and more.
I have decided to put this out there not because I want people to laugh at me or view me as crazy. Not because I want people that know me to talk and whisper about me. I am sharing my story because I was alone and I learned that there was other people out there like ME and I want other people to know that there are people that are like THEM.
I no longer want to be ashamed of the person I am. I don’t want to pretend to be someone I’m not. Living with OCD is like living with the boogeyman hiding in the shadows and living in constant fear. You know what though, the boogeyman isn’t quite as scary when the light is turned on.