It’s nearly impossible to appreciate anything about mental illness, because frankly, it sucks. All of it. It’s like asking, “So what part of that sinus infection was your favorite.” But strangely enough, there is one aspect I’ve come to embrace, largely in part due to the fact that it’s what makes me a machine. Obsessive Compulsive Order – see, I choose not to diss the ‘DIS’part. No, I haven’t gone mad. I get it. No one is supposed to like their OCD. It’s like liking your Athlete’s Foot or a freaking canker sore while eating an orange. It’s a terrible disorder, one that can lead to thoughts of suicide. So why then am I down with OCD, yeah you know me? (I’m still stuck on that joke. Sorry folks, I can’t help it. I have OCD.)
When we think of OCD the first thing that comes to my mind are Howie Mandel and Mark Summers. You know, Mark Summers, the host of Double Dare. Aside from the fact that hosting the messiest show on TV (not America’s Got Talent, although that works too) seems like THE WORST POSSIBLE JOB FOR SOMEONE WITH OCD, they are the two most outspoken celebrity advocates of the disorder. Both are known for compulsive handwashing and germophobia. Yet the reality is this. OCD manifests itself differently for different people. We only tend to associate it with GERMS and HAND WASHING and those ignorant BUZZFEED QUIZZES (I still love ya Buzzfeed!) But that’s only for some. For others, like me, it’s exactly what it’s called. Obsessions leading to Compulsions.
Okay, now before you think OCD is a stalker disorder, it isn’t. We obsess over stuff. Thoughts. Ideas. Comments. Emails. Our brains become fixated on something and it’s uncontrollable. And before you say “Don’t think about it,” please know WE CAN’T HELP IT. Our brains are programmed that way. They obsess. I have the ability to obsess over an “and” versus an “or” in someone’s email response. “What does that mean?” “Does that mean they hate me?” “Does that mean they are angry with me?” Okay, so this is not the fun part. The “fun” is in the compulsions part. Again, y’all are thinking “Woman has lost it.” See, I like my compulsions for they are what makes me the most incredibly organized person I’ve ever met.
I’ve always been complimented for my attention to detail and people frequently tell me that my brain is like a computer. I can spew facts, dates, and really trivial nonsense. I also like the perfectionism of it all. If you’ve spent time working with me, you’ll know that I am quite the perfectionist. Okay, not quite. Absolute. I am an absolute perfectionist. Even the slightest error can send me into a tailspin (again, why do I enjoy it?) Well, it’s easy for me to be a slacker but the OCD doesn’t allow for it. It provides me with endless amount of overachieverness….overachieverdom….overachieverism, umm, you understand, right?
Now before y’all go out wishing and praying for some OCD organization, please know this. Some individuals suffer terribly from their OCD. It can become debilitating. It can lead to anxiety, panic attacks, and depression. Trust me, books on a shelf not in size order have given me palpitations. But it is highly treatable. I learned how to use my OCD to work for me and get the ideal end result from it. It wasn’t easy and took a good 20 years to master, but I’m making it work.