By Caitlin Howle
Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to be a person with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. When I agreed to write this blog, I was asked if I would feel comfortable with it, if I was “out” about my OCD. Originally, I scoffed at the idea. How could anyone not be “out” about their OCD? Then, I started looking at my life on a day to day basis.
Sure, my friends know. My close friends. My parents, them too. My doctors, they know, but they were supposed to know. But past that, there wasn’t really anyone, I couldn’t name anyone else who knew that I live with OCD. This made me really have to think about what having OCD meant, and what it means to me, because, why couldn’t I tell more people if I was so fine with having it?
But, some back-story. I have always flirted with the diagnosis of OCD. Ever since I was little I had doctors ask me questions about the way I thought, or acted, but no one ever figured it was anything more than teenage angst with a little bit of an anxiety disorder thrown in for good measure.
I was beginning my senior year of college when things just started to get too hard to deal with. My relationships with others were not doing very well, I was throwing myself into my schoolwork so I didn’t have to listen to myself, and I felt so anxious most of the time that I was in a generally bad mood. I heard about an anxiety treatment center in the area I lived in and I called, speaking with the amazing Dr. Suzanne Meunier.
After our first few sessions, Suzanne had explained to me that what I was dealing with, and what I had always been dealing with – was Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. At first I felt like laughing and I honestly made some joke about how I didn’t care about how often I washed my hands. She told me that that was a compulsion for some people, and started to point out some of the compulsions I exhibited, outwardly, and inwardly.
What can I say? My world was changed.
I started talking more and more to people about OCD and what it meant to me, but I never actually told people I didn’t feel like would ‘get it’ that I was struggling with this illness. People constantly want to talk about how OCD they are being, when they really aren’t being OCD at all. I mean, we’ve all heard someone, at some point, say: “I’m being so OCD!”
But, are you, really?
With the stigma associated with people having OCD, I realized that no, I don’t really tell people about what I deal with on a day-to-day basis. I am, in fact, not “out” about my OCD at all.
Not until now.
I am making a choice to tell everyone, to be honest and open, to be okay with the fact that yes, I have obsessive-compulsive disorder, and guess what? I’m okay!
Please join me in my new blog series for IOCDF of Massachusetts chronicling my adventures with OCD.