I Have OCD and I’m not Afraid of Germs

I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

When most people hear the term OCD, a picture of hand washing or a well-organized room comes to mind. I don’t like telling people I have OCD because they automatically assume I’m afraid of germs and am a “clean freak”.

If you were to walk into my house without giving me a week’s notice I’m pretty sure you would be disgusted. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t let it get unsanitary but it’s definitely not company worthy. There are dirty pans on the stove and dishes in the sink always. I have “clean areas” but through out my house I have piles that gather in corners, and on end tables. I have hardwood floors and a cat and three kids so there is always crumbs or cat hair. I have piles of unfolded laundry and a computer desk with piles of opened mail and kids projects. And don’t even get me started on the status of my bathroom. I am not an organized person and I hate cleaning. Cleaning actually triggers anxiety and I have to work extra hard to motivate myself to do it.

My Obsessions and compulsions are currently mostly in my head.

So let’s brake it down a little for you.

Obsessive

Obsessions are unwanted thoughts or fears that you can’t get out of your head and cause anxiety. These thoughts or fears can be about anything.

My obsessions consist of fear of harming someone I love (harm OCD), and fear that my doubts have caused me to lose faith in God (scrupulosity).

Compulsive

Compulsions are something you feel compelled to do that alleviates the stress and anxiety caused by the obsession.

The most widely known compulsions are outward and noticeable. For example: straightening things to make them symmetrical, turning off a light switch many times, touching things, washing hands or sanitizing.

Inward compulsions are less noticeable because they take place in the mind. Sometimes a person may not even recognize these as compulsions because they can become second nature.

Currently my compulsions are mostly inward, although I have had many outward compulsions through out my 16 years of having OCD. Thankfully, through recent therapy (ERP therapy), I have been able to gain control in many areas of my life.

My biggest inward compulsion, which I am currently working on with my therapist, is avoidance. Avoidance is actually very common among OCD sufferers. I reduce my anxiety by not doing the things that cause my anxiety. This has hindered my growth as a wife, a mother, and as a christian.

Disorder

“A disorder is a problem or illness which affects someone’s mind or body”

OCD is not a quirk or character trait. It is not an adjective, it’s a mental illness.  It interferes with your daily life. It can make you lose time, make you miserable, and causes stress, anxiety, and depression.

You can’t be a little OCD. There is no such thing.

 

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*Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a mental health professional. I write about OCD and mental illness based on personal experience and research online. If you think you may have OCD based on anything you’ve read, please seek professional help. You don’t have to go through it alone. You can overcome it and gain control of your life.

I am an #OCDvocate. I write articles and poetry about OCD to spread awareness. My goal is to help you understand that OCD is different for everyone and can manifest in many different ways. ” In the United States, about 1 in 40 adults and 1 in 100 children have OCD. And according to the World Health Organization, OCD is one of the top 20 causes of illness-related disability, worldwide, for individuals between 15 and 44 years of age.”

I have chosen to speak out and to be heard as part of my healing process.

 

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A glimpse of light

 

 

cobble me a picture

with moments of this broken reality

create a masterpiece

with the remnants of my sanity

let us put these rare lucid moments in a frame

display them like a memory

showing how things could be

if I move forward, readily

 

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If I could frame what my mind could be, the freedom I could have. If I could see on a daily basis what I’m working toward, I can keep moving, keep pushing, to be free.

#OCDvocate

Cobble poem for dVerse.

 

Healthy Doubt Versus Unhealthy Doubt

This is what I am struggling with now. As I am trying to tackle my scrupulosity through therapy, I am often caught in the obsession of “Is this OCD? or do I really think this?”

My therapist is starting me small and wants me to say “this is OCD” whenever I have a doubt concerning my faith and just sit with that realization. But I am having a hard time with even this simple task because I’m afraid a thought won’t be OCD and I am labeling it wrong. After all, as Christians we are supposed to be inquisitive and curious to deepen our knowledge. I am afraid I won’t be able to recognize an OCD doubt and a real doubt when it comes to say, reading a book or hearing a sermon that doesn’t sit right. Because right now, nothing sits right. Everything feels wrong, sounds wrong. It’s a very lonely feeling that I struggle to share. Because someone who doesn’t understand could take my questions or doubts wrong and reassure me in unhelpful ways.

I have just restarted my therapy after a bit of a break (me avoiding treatment because of the anxiety) and I already feel hopeless. Scrupulosity is so different from my harm OCD. So many uncertainties that my OCD takes and runs with. I am already exhausted.

 

This is a great little article and I intend to look into this book.

ocdtalk

crossing NYC street

This post first appeared on my blog in August 2013….

I’ve previously written about how I used to scrutinize my son Dan, trying to decipher which of his behaviors were OCD related. I finally realized my intense involvement in his life was doing us both more harm than good, and I was able to let go and just trust my son.

What I wasn’t aware of at the time is that sometimes those who deal with obsessive-compulsive disorder aren’t sure themselves if their thoughts and behaviors are related to their disorder. Because those with OCD often have good insight in regard to their illness, I just assumed they knew when what they were thinking or how they were acting was OCD based. However, from reading blogs and connecting with people, I realize this isn’t always the case.

So how do we know if certain feelings and/or actions are related to…

View original post 275 more words

#OCDPoem #1

 

here

it comes,

an ambush

of obsessions,

untold questions push

my limits to the brink.

no truth left to hold me up.

where does my help come from,

when nothing seems real?

can’t step forward.

can’t step back.

I stand,

stuck.

 

© Caitlin Gramley

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I want to show what OCD and scrupulosity is like for me. I’ve tried so hard with drafts of informative posts, but nothing seems to quite hit the mark. So, for now, I am going to show glimpses of what it’s like for me through poetry. #OCDpoems.

 

This is in response to dVerse

 

Fractured Mind

 

Forehead lined with worry

ninety scenarios

from a single thought

stick to her like

insects on fly paper

 

If only she could

unhinge from this frame of mind

 

Hours – turn to days – turn to weeks

simple truths slip though desperate fingers

Reality now muddled

 

© Caitlin Gramley

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A quadrille for dVerse.

Day twenty-five #NaPoWriMo

Your mind will tell you

when the voices take over

avoid what you love

your misery brings quiet

but the silence will not last

 

It only gets worse

so do not appease, ATTACK!

stand back up and fight

before you lose what you love

and you become but a shell

 

You must not forget

OCD dose not own you

you can find freedom

from the shackles that bind you

you must keep moving forward

 

© Caitlin Gramley

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This poem is in response to NaPoWriMo Day Twenty-five.

Prompt: “Today, we challenge you to write a poem that takes the form of a warning label . . . for yourself! ”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hidden Torment

Skeletal-tree-Web

Skeletal-tree-Web by Fay Collins

One thought, not necessarily significant, is placed upon her mind. Anyone else would shake their head at the silly thing and move on, but she is unable to. Seeded, it starts to grow, slowly at first, a single grey tendril. It brings with it a second thought, then a third. Each one produces another, inducing fear and worry. Soon, its gnarled fingers have taken over, invading every peaceful moment. Questions and doubts, her only companions.

the naked tree sways

roots take hold beneath the ground –

no one sees how far

 

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This Haibun is in response to two prompts.

Tuesday Poetics – Fay Collins: Sarah challenged us to write a poem inspired by Fay Collins Artwork.

Carpe Diem #1413 Loneliness (Haibun in the classical way): “Loneliness … what does it mean for you. Do you choose loneliness sometimes, to find new inspiration and new energy? Loneliness … a strong emotion with a strong task today, because I love to challenge you to create a classical haibun. In other words, the haiku (or tanka) have to be written in the classical way. (More about this classical way of haiku-ing you can find  in Carpe Diem Lecture 1) Your haibun may have a maximum of 300 words.”

Also written for NaPoWriMo.

It’s too hot in here

photo by Dan Carlson

photo by Dan Carlson

My racing thoughts burn through my mind

The heat is too much to bear

So I succumb, obey, repeat – Silence… but for a moment

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Written for Three Line Tales, Week Twenty-five 

Exposures

My mind

Holds onto fears

Folds them up and keeps them

Forever

 

I was born this way

But I can break this code

Rewire

And freely live

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Written for #wispwrit

Prompt: Born

Mental Health Monday – Scrupulosity

I had read on a few blogs online from other OCD sufferers that OCD can effect one’s faith. I did not , however, know that there was a term for it or that it was it’s own condition.

Scrupulosity : “A form of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) involving religious or moral obsessions. Scrupulous individuals are overly concerned that something they thought or did might be a sin or other violation of religious or moral doctrine.” –IOCDF

When I went to my first therapy appointment recently, she asked me when I started to notice my depression coming back. I thought for awhile and said it was a year ago, when I started to doubt my faith. She asked me to explain my doubts and fears about it. As the session went on, I explained my OCD thoughts and compulsions, not realizing that the religious stuff was at all linked to my OCD.

After a while she finally stopped writing notes, looked up, and said that I definitely have OCD with emphasis on scrupulosity. After she explained that OCD is sometimes called the doubting disorder and that it lies and attacks everything we love and everything we are, it all started to make sense.

My whole life has been about God. I grew up in church, I became a christian at age 5, I was active in youth group and strong in my faith as a teenager. My whole relationship with my husband was based on our faith together and before started dating  we spent a month in prayer and seeking God’s will for our lives. If He didn’t exist, if my whole life was based on one big lie, then what does that leave me with? Does that mean my choices were all wrong? What purpose does life have? I was completely lost and alone and I felt like I could tell no one. No wonder depression had taken over my life.

Practicing my faith became very hard over the past year. I doubted everything I thought and everything I heard about God. I started tuning out the pastor’s sermons because with everything he said there was this little voice that would contradict and pick and cause doubt.

If I tried to pray, I was convinced God wouldn’t hear me because I doubted. I didn’t read the bible because I could no longer accept anything it said.

I was in the praise band and every time I played I would be berating myself inside.

“How can you be leading worship when you’re not even sure you believe what you are singing? All these people look at you and hold you to this standard that you are failing to meet. They think you are this great christian woman. You are a fraud.”

After a while I couldn’t do it anymore so I pulled myself out of praise band. I was letting everyone down and they had no idea why.

But now that I know there’s a reason for this doubt, that this is not me but my OCD, I can start to fight back.

I will be starting ERP soon. It is going to be a slow process. My therapist said it might be a while before we can address my faith based obsessions because they are huge and we need to start very small. But it gives me hope that I will one day be able to have a relationship with God again.

For now, I am going to take a small step on my own. After being out of the band for a while and not being able to play christian music, I am going to try to play a song for the Christmas season. I can’t promise I’ll succeed, but I am going to try and push through even when OCD is screaming in my head. I am not going to let OCD ruin who I am.

I know God is real. I know he sees my heart through all the doubt in my mind.

OCD lies. That is the truth that will keep me pushing forward.