Yesterday I was in a meeting with people I love and while we were working through the details of the event someone jokingly said, yeah I'm OCD about that. I felt my heart sink. I knew that the phrase carries with it a complex layering of emotions and rules that cannot be merely dismissed.
I knew everyone laughed and we all knew what that meant. It meant that we had a finite
way of approaching that particular area. We've all heard it, we've used it as a way to dismiss a sense of rigidity in our organization, time and schedules. I'm a person of structure, organization and schedules and in the past I've used the term myself but in the last year, I've come to understand I can no longer use the simple acronym as a way to describe my personality.
The things that you cannot are the very things that are impacting the person's everyday existence.
OCD is deeper than someone holding onto every single piece of trash, purchasing items that may seem useless and creating an environment that is overrun with items. OCD is deeper than someone merely standing at the sink washing their hands a certain number of times before being able to move onto the next item on their agenda. Living with OCD is like holding a different phone in each hand. Both phones are being held to an ear and on the other line is someone telling you what you have to do to make it through your day. On one line there's a person telling you that you MUST count the tiles on the floor in to be safe. On the other line you're having a conversation with someone else telling them how irrational counting the tiles sounds, of course you're safe but wait what if they are right; what if you something will happen to you unless you count those tiles before moving on. The conversation goes back and forth and eventually one of those voices wins.
Maybe it's not counting tiles, maybe it's that you have to pick your skin, hair or eyebrows in order to be accepted and fit in. Maybe it's that you cannot sit on the edge of a couch and have to sit in the middle for fear of being harmed. Maybe it's that you have to touch a specific item in the room before going forward. Maybe just maybe you are fearful that your pets are going to die and you have a certain routine that you have to accomplish in order to ensure their well being for the time being. For each individual their obsession and compulsion is different and unique to, each having their own conversation with the voice on the other end of the phone.
The phone conversation doesn't stop just because you count the tiles. There are always two voices; one that is rational and one that is irrational. One that is boxing you into a corner and the other that is calling you to move forward.
Those of us on the outside are left to walk with a person who might seem to the world that they do not a care in the world. Left to walk along side someone that the doesn't have a physical disability and yet is struggling in their own right to walk in the world, to hear the world through one earpiece and to see the world through one lens.
OCD, it's the unseen. It's people fighting something within the wiring of their brain to make it through their day. It's people rising every morning with the courage that they can get sassy with the voices and over come the irrational conversations pressing down upon them. It's people living in hope that they are not less than the rest of their peers with whom all things seem to come with ease. It's the rising to do the things that you and I take for granted everyday.