Thinking about OCD

So, disability support tumblr had this great tagging idea where illnesses/disorders that are also used as shorthand words in English can be tagged ‘actually such-and-such’. Today I saw a post about OCD and it made me decide to check out the ‘actually OCD’ tag for the first time. There’s some lovely stuff in there. But also a lot of people who are reaaaally angry about self-diagnosing. Partly I can understand because of how OCD is used as a shorthand for ‘neat’. But mostly I hate it because they are different things. It’s totally valid to be angry that someone says ‘oh it’s my OCD coming out!’ when they line up all the notes in the till the same way (happened last week at work), but that’s not a self-diagnoses, it’s someone using the name of your illness flippantly.

I do not have an official diagnoses, but I can remember when I started to think in terms of myself having OCD. I started doing CBT a year ago to deal with a phobia. Every month or so the therapist would give me an OCD test in the form of a questionnaire. It wasn’t called an OCD test but it was separate from the general mental wellbeing test, and the questions all linked to a type of OCD. Do you feel there are good and bad numbers? Do you wash and clean obsessively? Do you check things many times to make sure they are locked/closed? It was 1-5 with 5 being most applies to you, and I scored fairly low on all but the contamination related ones where I was answering high. The point of the test was not to diagnose me. I don’t know what my therapist did with the results because I didn’t ask, but the stuff I was working on with my therapist was related to contamination fears. My GP has also talked in terms of my obsessive-compulsive behaviours regarding contamination, germs and sickness. But no one has said ‘you have OCD’.

Does that invalidate everything else? What would change if someone said ‘you have OCD’? I’m already well aware of the option of CBT, and though I’m managing fairly well without it right now and this winter was a ‘good’ one, I will go back when I need to. I’m also aware that my OCD is mild, and I’m very lucky in that regard because I can manage it with my rituals. I also consciously feel myself saying ‘it’s ok’ when I feel on the brink of my rituals going to the next stage of extremity. For now, at least, I can stop that happening. I have a support system (family, partner) that I’m privileged to have. What I want to know is, as long as I acknowledge I have a mild form, does it hurt anyone if I talk online about my rituals and compulsive thoughts in the context of OCD? I can’t be the only one who knows the relief of finding out there’s a way to talk about these things without it being ‘just Mossy being a worrier’. It’s not just me who is like this! How could I give that up even if no one has give me the diagnoses?

I’ve had several work colleagues do the ‘I’m a bit OCD’ thing. In reality I know they aren’t but I just wish so much I knew for sure, if there’s even the off-chance that they really do have it (people joke about disorders to deal with them right?) so I won’t be the only one and they might understand it. That’s how I really feel, not anger.

About self-diagnoses again, I want to say a couple of things about tumblr. One is that many people on there have written wonderful things about the larger implications of being completely against self-diagnoses and how this intersects with racism, classism, sexism and many more factors. I won’t do them the dishonour of recycling their words here, it’s all there on tumblr so be sure to have a look, and if you already know then this is the reason I’m not mentioning those factors here, but they are very important. The other is that tumblr has one of the most welcoming communities towards being neuroatypical I’ve ever seen. May anyone reading this always find the right places and not the upsetting ones.

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2 comments

    1. No problem! I remember being younger and not knowing not to call things gay because I didn’t know that people actually were gay. I didn’t know what it meant at all, just that it somehow meant bad. So yeah, as long as you remember that OCD stands for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, a mental condition, and is not a word for certain behaviours, it’s fine. Thanks for being my first comment on this blog btw. 🙂

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