My OCD Doesn't Look Like Your OCD

02/20/2017 09:13 pm ET Updated Mar 14, 2017

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is an extremely misunderstood illness. I can speak to this because my OCD doesn’t look like most. Yes, I am extremely clean and organized. However, this has nothing to do with my OCD. I know this because I can leave the house if my room isn’t perfect or don’t stop eating because my closet isn’t in the proper order. I’m not saying this to diminish anyone’s struggle because I have met many people along the way who cannot say the same.

My OCD is more obsessive heavy, though I do have some compulsions. I only recently realized my need to tell people everything that is going on in my life is a compulsion. This is probably the worse of my compulsions and it has definitely made my life challenging. However, I don’t wash my hands until they bleed or the many other stereotypical OCD behaviors. A lot of these are chosen to represent OCD because they are easy to show and make a good story.

When my OCD is the worse, I primarily obsess over food. For me, to eat a simple snack, I’ll take two hours to obsess over it. I must figure out what I want to eat. Once I have decided that, I must plan how I am going to prepare it. Now, I’m not talking about whether to bake of fry my chicken. I must plan each individual step. First, I’ll go to the kitchen. Next, I’ll open the refrigerator. After that, I touch whatever I have decided to eat. Then, I can… and this cycle continues until I’ve laid out a complete plan of attack.

This might not seem like that big of a deal, everyone plans their meals. Mine just might be in more detail. Here is the difference. My OCD is now an Eating Disorder. 30+ percent of people with Eating Disorders are also OCD. My OCD has caused me to starve myself near death, twice. My obsessive cycle can take two or more hours to get through so I can go have a snack. If I must deviate from my plan, usually that shuts me down and it feels like I cannot eat anything. Something in my mind locks up and I find it impossible to take a bite. Sometimes my obsessive spin takes so long, I just give up on eating.

In one program, I was in, they asked us to give advice to the new patients. My advice was always “Don’t Google your illness”. There is a lot of information out there but mental health affects everyone in a different way. Googling OCD, I would have never thought I had it. This shows one more time, that treating mental illness is not about treating a disease but about treating the individual.

If you’re struggling with an eating disorder, call the National Eating Disorder Association hotline at 1-800-931-2237.

If you or someone you know needs help, call 1-800-273-8255 for the National
Suicide Prevention Lifeline. You can also text HELLO to 741-741 for free,
24-hour support from the Crisis Text Line. Outside of the U.S., please
visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database
of resources.

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