Dear People Who Are "So OCD,"
I just wanted to inform you that you (probably) aren't. As someone who deals with an anxiety disorder, dermatophagia, and dermatillomania (little-studied disorders that are often considered OCD-spectrum) on a daily basis, it really pisses me off when you say this. Oh, wow, you like your house to be clean? That doesn't make you OCD. You like to keep your colored pencils in a certain order? That doesn't make you OCD either.
According to Wikipedia (which I know is a sucky source): "The phrase "obsessive–compulsive" has become part of the English lexicon, and is often used in an informal or caricatured manner to describe someone who is meticulous, perfectionistic, absorbed in a cause, or otherwise fixated on something or someone. Although these signs may be present in OCD, a person who exhibits them does not necessarily have OCD, and may instead have obsessive–compulsive personality disorder (OCPD), an autism spectrum disorder, or no clinical condition."
Megan Fox does not have OCD because she thinks public bathrooms and restaurant silverware are germy. Hearing her say she has OCD because of this was what ticked me off enough to start thinking about making this post. It pisses me off to no end when Very Public People decide to say something that in any way diminishes the seriousness of any kind of health-related condition. It's irresponsible to continue misconceptions about what Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder actually is, because it can in fact be very serious and heart-breaking and isn't some sort of novel phrase you throw into conversation to make yourself sound quirky-cool.
Here's what OCD is for me:
OCD is when you have intrusive thoughts about gruesome, horrifying situations in your everyday life. It's when you obsess, in detail, about what would happen if the roof fell in and who would live and who would die. It's when you imagine the trajectory of a bullet through the window every time you drive. It's when you have disturbing thoughts you can't control during sex to the point that being intimate scares you to death (dear Luke, you didn't know about this but it doesn't happen anymore). It's when you think of terrible, violent ways to die or get maimed as you cross campus because you truly believe that if you think of all the bad things you can imagine they can't happen because you were already expecting them. It's when you think you left the door unlocked and you spend several hours pacing in the living room in tears because even though you know it's safe your brain won't let go of the thought that there's someone with a crowbar or a gun or a knife hiding somewhere and he's going to do horrible things to you and mutilate your body but it's too late at night to call anyone about something you know isn't true and you check every nook and cranny several times before having a panic attack before going to sleep afraid and none of it makes sense because you know you're worried over nothing but something in your brain makes you paranoid in a way that feels so real. And in the morning you hate yourself and you feel crazy but you worry the next night, too, because what if the killer's just been waiting and really he's just waiting in the back of your brain.
OCD is like having a song stuck in your head. No matter how hard you try, you can't get the bad thoughts out. You just have to wait and feel nervous until everything magically becomes okay again. The worst part of OCD is that you know what's happening. You know you're being unreasonable. You know you're worried over nothing. You know the bad things you imagine won't happen. You know you're safe. You know you're being crazy. But the OCD makes it feel real and true, undeniably. What hurts most sometimes is that I know I can say this to anyone I want but unless the person has a brain that does the same thing they will never understand. Imagine, say, you're worried your mother was driving and got into an awful car accident. If you know your mother didn't leave her house and she doesn't drive. So you stop worrying. But if you're me, that doesn't matter. You know what you imagine couldn't have happened, but the emotional response and the anxiety are as if it did. It all feels painfully real though it isn't. It makes no sense, I know, but that's how it works.
OCD is when you tear your body apart with your teeth and nails because somehow the pain makes the anxiety disappear. I am never not in pain. My back and hairline and shoulders and chest and face are covered with small wounds, some of which have been there for literally years because I will never let them close because when they scab over I have to make the skin even or I feel nervous. My fingers are torn to shreds from biting the skin. When I dig too deep it hurts like hell and I know I should stop but I can't because I need whatever it is I'm digging for gone. One time my boyfriend physically held me back to prevent me from biting and the anxiety inside was so bad I could swear I would die. The discomfort is like nothing I can explain. But when I harm myself, I am like anyone else and it hurts and looks terrible and I feel incredible shame. There is no feeling in the world that's so confusing as being in incredible self-imposed pain and knowing you could stop but you can't because the compulsive part of you needs the pain. It needs the skin even. It loves the blood. It doesn't cry or hurt like I do. And I do.
This was once healthy skin. There was an "imperfection" on that spot that's protruding from my neck. It's protruding because I spent all day squeezing and picking at that spot until it was swollen and so sore I couldn't even sleep on that side. The disclorations on the chin area are (probably) permanent scars from skin-picking, also known as dermatillomania.\
This another shot of the same welt I created in the last photo. The couple other red marks were also self-inflicted.
Looking back, these are my shoulders on a pretty good day. Most days my chest, shoulders, and the back of my neck are covered in marks like these.
These are how my hands look on a decently okay day. They're often much worse, occasionally much better. The very red, raw spots indicated bites that were too deep and caused a pretty excessive amount of bleeding. Spots like this will stay sore and make everyday tasks difficult for long periods of time, especially since as they begin healing I will feel compelled to reopen them. Compulsive biting is also known as dermatophagia.
I don't say this to start a pity parade in my honor.
All I'm saying is that if you're "so OCD" because you really like to be clean and organized or you casually enjoy even numbers or something, please, for the love of God, stop and think for a second about what you're saying. This makes me feel how some people feel about saying "that's retarded" or "that's so gay"-- believe it or not, you're marginalizing real people. So yeah, for some people like you, OCD is a jokey colloquialism, but for some people it's the hellish world that their brain creates for them to live in.
On Dermatophagia Part Two
On Dermatophagia Part Three