OCD: What it’s like to truly live with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Do you know anyone who suffers from OCD? (not self diagnosed bc they like things clean, I’m talking about *for real* legit OCD)? Ever wonder why they have mood swings, get irritated so quickly, have a hard time making new plans that interfere with their accustomed routine, or have a difficult time communicating how they feel? Wonder why they fidget or blink a lot?

It’s because they often process up to 100x more information than the average person and the brain often will adhere to repetitive thoughts to block out the noise of all the other information they are receiving.  Sometimes there’s a part of the brain that cannot be turned off.

It’s like having ONE traffic cop trying to control an intersection with cars and pedestrians traveling in 50 directions all at once. Which lane does this traffic cop prioritize? How is that determined, if at all? What’s more important and what about the information pushed to the side?? What if he/she forgets?

And that is a huge fear for anyone living with OCD. Forgetting the information or thoughts/ideas etc that they must push off to the side.

The constant state of living at this intensity is something very few of you could ever understand. When I work with OCD/anxiety clients, I cannot write a program and say “Here, do this”. It is overwhelming. Not because they are lazy, but because the noise of so much information trying to direct them in 100 different ways is so mind-blowing and intense, that they cannot work alone in their thoughts and stick to one thing.

People with OCD are very unique, but contrary to what others SEE (and think and assume), they are incredibly smart and intuitive. They are not lazy. They are not assholes, jerks, or rude bitches. They aren’t even impatient, though it seems that way. In fact, it takes a million times more patience to live with OCD than you could ever imagine. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder isn’t just about a person needing to wash their hands 12x a day, being afraid of the number 3, or color-coding everything in their home and office.  That’s a stereotype that many OCD sufferers do deal with, but not all do.  Most who live with this are simply trying to overcome the constant repetition of their thoughts.  It’s like having a song on repeat all day, but the only thing being played back over and over again is ONE lyric.  Over… and over.

If you know someone like this, give them the space and allowance they deserve and know they are doing their best. Don’t take the mood swings personally. They really do love you. And they WANT to hang out with you, make plans, have a conversation etc etc.

I used to suffer from this terribly, and never had anyone to really help me out of it… so I spent most of my high school and early college years being judged poorly and negatively… and I internalized it as: something is wrong with me. Maybe I *am* lazy, entitled, rude, impatient, and selfish. Maybe people are right? But if I am all those things, why can’t I change? Why is it so hard?

I didn’t have anyone to explain the odd sensation of having 12 words repeat themselves over and over in a sentence 100x while someone was trying to speak to me. I was ashamed and tried to hide that.

Now I work with people to help them manage this stressful and scary problem that may never fully go away. But with practice and all the right tools, such as quality sleep, safe/guided detoxification, a clean diet (and a clean gut), the correct exercises and breathing mechanics (coupled with activities that create a sense of playfulness and joy), consistent months of good sleep & cognitive rest/restoration + a lot of guided work through the metaphysical and cognitive triggers that intensify this disorder = IT CAN BE MANAGED.

If you know someone who battles this, then the most loving and amazing gifts you can give them is patience, acceptance, flexibility and compassion. The worst thing you can do is judge or criticize them (aka shame them for something they have no control over).

Watch this to get a SMALL idea what its like, and next time your friend makes a joke like “OMG yeah, I’m sooooooo OCD, it’s not even funny” – ask them: Are you really though? How do you know? Because making a self diagnosis and/or joking about it is like going to get your head shaved off and saying “lol omg I’m suuuuuuch a cancer patient right now”.

OCD is a real thing. Self diagnosing and joking about it is equivalent to minimizing those who truly suffer and perpetuating the stigma of mental & cognitive disorders.

5 thoughts on “OCD: What it’s like to truly live with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder”

    1. Danielle, thank you for the comment. I really hope that this message can get across. I feel that OCD is widely misinterpreted by society, and thus misunderstood. This isolates people who suffer from anxiety and OCD greatly. Nothing feels worse than isolation, but then tack on shame and fear of judgement. It’s terribly hard. Sending you and your child lots of warm hugs and kindness! -Sara

  1. Thank you for this. My daughter was just diagnosed with this. She has had it for years and didn’t tell us. She is fighting like hell to get through each day. I want her to contact you. Hopefully she will.

    1. I’m happy to help her in any way that I can, Kate. Thank you for reaching out. This is incredibly difficult for others to deal with and is often SOOOOO misunderstood. xoxo

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