I Question Your OCD

Image: fanpop.com

Image: fanpop.com

Do you recognize a lot of yourself in Monk?
Are you detail-oriented in your cleaning?
Is your house in perfect order, everything in its place?
Do you feel the need to straighten crooked pictures?
Do you dislike getting dirty?

My daughter would answer “No” to all the above. My daughter suffers from OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Do you ever have to walk on the lines or not on the lines?

When on the computer, does your cursor have to be put back in a precise spot on the screen after every action?

Do you have to click in the exact center of an icon or go back and do it again? To the point that your work takes twice as long?

Do you ever feel you have to count certain numbers in your head over and over while in class?

Do you have to use a mechanical pencil because otherwise you’d be at the sharpener after every other word?

Does it upset you when a student takes a sip of water and doesn’t put the bottle back in exactly the same position it was in before?

Do you ever get stuck taking notes in class, trying to get the first letter right, erasing, trying again, erasing again, starting on a new page, and never even getting word one down?

Do you waste a ton of paper because you can’t write on a page that has slight indentations from the previous page on it?

Does the mere sight of graph paper throw you into high anxiety?

Do you ever feel you have to hum what the teacher just said, while at the same time worrying that other students will hear you?

Does a twenty-minute homework assignment ever take you three hours because your handwriting has to be perfect?

Does it drive you mad when someone straightens a picture that was crooked?

Do you ever have to count all the seams while driving on a concrete road?

Do your eyelids ever drive you crazy?

Do you ever have too press your foot to the ground in a certain way while in the car? Even when it starts to hurt?

Does feeling your hair against your ear ever drive you berserk?

Do you ever have sleepless nights because no matter how hard you try, somehow your arms will touch your torso?

Do you feel that nineteen out of twenty clothing fabrics are just wrong?

Would you rather be bitten by fire ants than wear jeans? Or any pants other than leggings? And only certain leggings?

Do you ever imagine there’s a string going up from your head, and so you have to turn back in the opposite direction of an initial turn, because otherwise the string will get tangled?

Is a nice lunch or dinner out ever completely spoiled because the back of the seat is wrong and you spend half the time in the restroom, crying?

Do you ever feel you must sit in a particular physically impossible position, trying for an hour and hurting yourself?

Do you feel that you must say an everything-will-be-okay mantra in your mind any time anyone mentions death?

Do you ever suddenly feel that whatever you do, you must not swallow?

If  you ever feel you have to do any of the above or something similar, is it because if you don’t, something horrible will happen to your family?

Does trying not to give in to a compulsion for even three seconds  put you at anxiety level 9?


OCD manifests itself in many different ways. Some people with OCD might clean like Monk. But keep in mind that Monk is made for TV. It only shows visible symptoms. And it’s meant to be comedy, which it is. My daughter and I are in stitches when we watch it. But it has very little to do with actual OCD.

As you can tell from my list of some of my daughter’s symptoms, people would never know she has OCD. They would just think she’s always in a bad mood, always tired, cries a lot for no apparent reason and doesn’t have any fashion sense.

But now you know.

When someone with OCD has therapy, they don’t have hilarious conversations like Monk and his therapist. OCD therapy is exposure therapy and it’s extremely painful.  Not everyone can handle it. If someone with OCD gets one symptom under control, another will usually pop up in its place. OCD is like an evil genius in the brain that does whatever it takes to sabotage what you are supposed to be doing at any given moment, be it getting dressed, paying attention in class, taking notes, sleeping or just plain sitting.

OCD is not funny.  OCD is not cute. It’s not a quaint quirk you can appropriate to get attention. Don’t put out an ad for an OCD cleaning lady when you mean you want a self-motivated cleaning lady with attention to detail. If you straighten crooked pictures it doesn’t mean you have OCD; it means you like things to be right.

Every time  a clean freak claims to have OCD, any time someone claims to have OCD because they like to align their pencils, someone listening who actually has OCD is screaming on the inside that you’re an idiot and you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

2 responses to “I Question Your OCD

  1. Thanks for this very enlightening post. I had some idea about how OCD affects people, but this has really educated me. It must be a huge effort and challenge for your daughter to get through every day. It has often concerned me how lightly the term OCD is used these days, often in a light hearted way, and you must find it very irritating because there can be nothing light hearted about it.


    • Indeed. Now, she doesn’t have all these symptoms at the same time. Some she hasn’t had for years, other have recently popped up. It’s worse when she’s stressed. But yeah, it really annoys my daughter to hear others talk about how OCD they are when they mean picky, or precise, or clean.


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