I know this is a strange post amid the other writing and release ones, but I strongly felt this needs to happen, and it can’t wait on my writing career. I want this searchable as soon as possible. I’ve had people both in the medical profession and outside of it dismiss obsessive-compulsive disorder as being a valid reason for concern. If you have OCD, chances are, you’ve been dismissed once or twice yourself.
“Oh, you have OCD? I do too. I like to clean.”
“Yeah, but how serious can it be? You just wash your hands more than other people.”
“It’s actually a good thing…think how organized you must be.”
My latest…from a medical specialist: “Yes, but aren’t we all a little obsessed? I know I’m obsessed with making more money.” And then he laughed. Laughed.
Forget these people’s opinions. They don’t matter. They don’t understand. Heck, they may never understand. But I do, and I want you to seek help immediately if you find yourself with any of these symptoms. This is urgent. This may even be an emergency. Find someone to tell. Someone who will take you seriously. If that person is a medical professional, that’s ideal. But don’t let other people convince you that these symptoms are nothing or that OCD is not serious. It’s serious. It can eat away at your life and even steal it. Watch for these symptoms:
- Frequent, Serious, or Elaborate Suicidal Fantasies. I’ll be honest, suicidal fantasies are not completely uncommon with OCD. When you see everything wrong with the safety precautions of an area or a situation, you think how “easy it would be.” You imagine worst case scenarios. You live in that world where it could happen “just like that.” It’s a constant barrage at times. Therapy, medication, meditation, and other interventions CAN help with this. This is not a healthy state to be in.
- Lack of control of impulsivity. We’re all about control, but sometimes…the compulsions win…the obsessions win. If you feel like you can’t control those impulses to do things…that they’re controlling you…tell someone.
- A sudden increase or a new impulse to self-harm. Whether you limit your self-harm to outlets like punishing runs or you’re into deeper territories, if this gets stronger or is new…tell someone. In fact, if you haven’t already told someone, someone should probably know. Find someone who understands and can talk to you about it. I’m not trying to normalize cutting, even as someone who once cut regularly. I understand it, but it’s not the only way or even a good way. And when you feel strongly that you “deserve” it, you don’t. That’s not you…that’s OCD.
- An emergence of new compulsions or an increase in their severity. “Oh, you like to clean? Ha-ha-ha-ha.” I knew someone who got up every day at four a.m. to clean their house for hours before their family woke up. Every. Day. And it was never enough. If you’re seeing a jump in this, tell someone. If you used to spend an hour on something and now it’s taking five or six, that is significant. If you suddenly can’t get clean enough or you can’t ever seem to finish a pattern, go see someone about it. My OCD ebbs and flows in many ways, but I recognize when something is abnormal.
- You can’t leave your house. If the world seems too hostile, and you just can’t face it, this is a dangerous path to go down and it’s very insidious. One day turns into three or four or weeks… The pattern becomes established. Seek help early. Same with if you start pushing people away because you can’t be around people. Recognize these things for what they are.
- It feels endless and overwhelming. If your OCD has you wanting to give up, don’t. Don’t think like that. We’re fighters. We’re warriors. We’re battling something invisible with powers others can’t imagine. It sucks. It sucks for you. It sucks for me. But there is help out there. Find someone to tell. Describe to them the relentless barrage on you…from inside you. Tell them how it feels like it’ll never end…how you feel like you’re going mad. You need someone to walk beside you on this.
- Intense depression, panic attacks, anger-management issues, or other symptoms outside the common core OCD symptoms. If you feel like you’re exhibiting symptoms of other conditions, find someone to talk to about that. Sometimes other people can see us more clearly than we can see ourselves. OCD has a lot of conditions that are co-morbid (often associated with it.)
- If you’ve recently made a change in medication (OCD or otherwise) or had a drastic change in your health and your OCD symptoms seem stronger or different. This is actually why I’m mentioning this. I’ve had a rather significant change in my health. I’m in constant pain. Some nights, I lie awake wondering if the pain will just knock me out. Then, there are days that I notice my pain is less…but the reality is my body is suppressing it–and I know because I get sick or dizzy from the pain. Pain produces hormones. It’s affecting the efficacy of my meds and the strength of my symptoms. I’m hoping to level out, but I know I might need to see someone soon. If you’re in this position, recognize it, evaluate it, and tell someone to watch out for you. Additionally, women, if you’ve recently given birth, don’t ever, ever, ever let anyone tell you that your concerns about your mental health and your dark thoughts aren’t valid. Postpartum issues are serious as hell. Is it surprising that hormones are making things worse? Possibly not. Is it serious? Yes. Yes. It. Is.
- If someone else tells you to seek help, give their opinion value. Listen to them. Don’t write them off. Ask them what they’re seeing. If they say you’re getting worse…you might be. We get so absorbed that we can’t always see. If they’re worried about you, they might have cause. Listen to them. They’re telling you because they care.
These are not the only serious symptoms, but they are some that we often overlook. If you’re concerned about your symptoms and feel like you’re heading down a dangerous path, tell someone. There are some dark aspects to OCD and they can swamp you. Suddenly, you’re capsized and drowning and…find someone.
You can always contact me via my contact page and the email address there. I try to respond quickly, but my health has been…funky. You can hunt me down on Twitter too. Please take care of yourself. THAT is what you deserve. You are enough and you are wonderful. You have something unique to offer to this world that no one else does. As an author, I can tell you that no one else can live your story and tell it later. Just you. You’re the protagonist in your own adventure and you deserve a happily-ever-after.
I have many other posts on OCD if you have more questions, check those out.
**If you or someone you love has obsessive-compulsive disorder, a medical professional would be able to give you more specific help and guidance if you want or need it. Nothing I’ve said can replace seeking help or should be construed as advice. Be safe and be well and be you and seek help if you need it. This post is based on my own experiences and my interaction with others diagnosed with OCD. I’m not a doctor. I’m simply a girl with a loud brain who knows what it’s like to be me.**
This is an excellent post. As a spouse of someone with OCD I recognize how necessary it is to have these words out there for people to find. Bless you for sharing them. I love your wise words and how you’re not afraid to share your experiences. I hope your health issues work themselves out or you figure out a better way to make it all work. Keep on fighting!
Thank you. I hope things get better. The physical therapy to restore strength to the muscles that have completely atrophied in my hips has been just insanely painful. But if it postpones hip replacement, it’s worth it. Even if I have to change my medications to accommodate being in pain in the meantime. I’m not quite forty so that feels…too soon to have hip replacement surgery. My body needs to quit betraying me like this. Thank you for your comment. I have the most supportive and awesome friends. *hugs*
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