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Do You Have OCD?

OCD: Obsessive, Compulsive Disorder

Do you find your world must be perfect?

I joke with my friends and family about "My OCD" trait, so I wanted to take a good look at this pesky trait and find out what I could about this so-called disorder that may plague me sometimes and many other people.

It is my belief that everyone has some element of OCD and if you deny you have this disorder even a little bit maybe you are not being honest with yourself.

If you claim the following, does this mean you could have OCD?

  • Someone with a well-structured life
  • Someone who likes things done right the first time
  • Someone who is a perfectionist. 
  • Someone who has a mental health issue where you are driven to have everything in your life in perfect order

I know that everyone develops individualized and personal routines. I wanted to know that if these routines we develop over the years are the same as OCD.

The Rose Is Considered One of the Most Perfect of Flowers

Considered as one of the most beloved and perfect flowers, unlike humans.

'What About Bob?'

If you are not sure what a person does who is diagnosed with OCD, watch the popular and beloved movie, What About Bob. While this movie is fun and entertaining, the issues of OCD that dictate Bob's life every day are not so funny. 

Bill Murray gives you a peek into the life of a person who has definite issues with repetitive behaviors. A person who must live each minute of his day in perfection. The most important thing to remember is that no one on the face of the earth is perfect nor can any person achieve a perfect life. This level of perfection is never going to happen no matter how hard you try because no one is ever going to be perfect on this planet. Every person is flawed in one way or another.

What the Medical Community Has to Say About OCD

A close look by the medical community at OCD.

There are different levels of OCD and a few different types of OCD which the medical community considers a mental health disorder stemming from anxiety. I have to admit that we all get a bit anxious at times due to different situations and this does not make you OCD. It is my belief that everyone has a bit of OCD that may arise at times. Do these times label you as having a mental health issue? Of course not.

First of all, according to my medical dictionary, OCD can affect any age level, any race, any social, educational, and economic level.

OCD surrounds itself with at least one, if not many private compulsions. Compulsions are an act of many different types that one cannot get through the day without doing.

These compulsions are actions that few people embrace. These compulsions come in the form of unwanted thoughts, images of the mind, and urges. These urges to carry out particular actions distress far too many people.

If you have a type of OCD as a youngster, chances are you are going to carry certain unwanted behaviors into your adult years and who is to say that as you age these behaviors drop off. These actions of compulsiveness can be trivial and very minor or compulsion can of a more serious nature and carry into adulthood.

If a youngster has OCD chances are they will have this when they enter adulthood. Sometimes the pattern of OCD diminishes greatly, increases greatly, and sometimes disappears entirely when the youngster enters the adult years.

Nurses Cannot Diagnosis

Nurses have a front row seat to mental health.

Being a nurse for many years, I had the opportunity to witness the behaviors of many of my patients along with long discussions with staff doctors on certain mental health illnesses. Nurses have a 24/7 insight to patient behaviors, the doctor does not. It is the nurse who is the eyes and ears for the doctor.

When a person must enter long-term care for whatever reason you must realize that the chances are good that the person had to scale down from an adequate size home or apartment to a very small space to call their own. 98 percent of the time the patient had to share this very small space with a roommate.

I remember one gentleman who had a particular routine from which the staff or he could not deviate. Most of my patients had their own set routines just like the generalized public, including you and me. However, when set routines crossed a fine gray line of obsessive behaviors it could become a problem.

The patient I especially remember is this man's routine. At night time this man had to count out the exact same number of Kleenex, fold them just the right way and line the same number of Kleenex up on his over-bed table. Most of this man's routine centered around counting and preparing things throughout the day and before his bedtime. I could not see any diagnosis of OCD, however, this man was being treated for anxiety as one of his issues.

Q. Was this man just protecting his small space?

Q. Was this man just living out his routine?

Is there a cure for OCD?

Like I stated before there are different levels of OCD that range from nearly non-existent symptoms, to severely debilitating symptoms. OCD is treated ongoing. I have considered myself as being OCD but as I grew older I now consider myself as an OCD slacker if that is at all possible. Many of the things in my life in the past now sit lower on my priority ladder.

Some people, like me, learn to live with symptoms and block the symptoms to the point that no one is the wiser. My sister claims I have OCD because I am always cleaning my house. If I see dust or dirt, it goes.

Years prior my husband and I raised three children, and as they entered high school, each kid had a friend who ended up moving into our home due to family problems, for a total of six people in our home. At present, I have two adult men, hubby, and son plus some feline pets. I am a stickler on living in a clean and (somewhat) tidy home.

Most of the time I do not consider this as being OCD. I consider this as just wanting to live in a clean and tidy home. I remember that years ago I could not let a household chore go to the next day. I had to get that chore done now or I could not rest.

These days I figure, "So what," if I do not get something done until tomorrow or the next day, no problem, I will get to it. This immediate attention to detail no longer bothers me. There is a difference between a drive to do something that can wait and cleaning up an immediate mess.

There is a diagnosis which does fit me although I have never had a doctor tell me I have OCPD. A person who has this disorder is very much like the person with OCD. A person with OCPD or Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder must be perfect. Things must be in order in their private and work life and the person must have control. This person is preoccupied with their behavior and actions must be perfect. My mom was much like the description given for OCPD but was she, I really do not know.

It is my guess that there are many employers who embrace an employee who must do a perfect job. I did not think that being perfect and doing the very best I could do throughout all the years I served the community in nursing was all that bad.

Being as sure as I could possibly be, having high work ethics, and being perfect in my job served me well for over 40 years of nursing and kept problems from arising such as lawsuits and called to court appearances to explain my actions for and about a patient.

What behaviors are considered OCD?

Q. Do we consider these as true OCD traits or simply a lifestyle pattern developed to get us through the day?

Q. We all develop certain patterns in our lives and sometimes we must deviate from these patterns and it does not bother us in the least.

Q. If you put dinner on every night at 5PM and one night you do not get dinner to the table until 6PM do you fall apart? If you fall apart with anxiety because you did not meet the 5PM deadline you may have OCD, only your doctor can say.

If you have OCD you may have a daily battle with the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Uncontrolled and unwanted, compelling thoughts and actions
  • Repetitive habits that are almost ritualistic in nature

The patient that I spoke of prior was every bit ritualistic in nature in his daily actions. Sometimes I saw this patient's behavior as a protection of his small space allowed to him.

I believe that there is a fine gray line with OCD and your usual pattern of life. The following examples may work well in your lifestyle and if you deviate from the following it causes you no undue stress and anxiety. You take the stand that "things just happen" to throw you off your usual routine of doing things and you go on with your day.

I believe that your usual way of going through life is a pattern and not OCD, such as:

  • Taking a shower every morning or evening at a certain time
  • Brushing your teeth after eating and even carrying a toothbrush and toothpaste with you to work
  • Going to bed at a certain time every night
  • Getting up at certain times of the morning
  • Eating lunch at the same time every day
  • Sitting dinner on the table every night at the same exact time

I believe that we all must devise a particular schedule to do needed chores every day that fit our schedule and that this is not OCD.

Inherited OCD Traits

A mother or father can pass on OCD traits to their children

I have never been diagnosed with OCD but being a nurse for so many years I can identify certain red flags. Such as:

  • I can remember when I was about the age of five years, going into the bathroom to wash and dry my hands off before sitting down to the dinner table.
  • I remember going back to that hanging towel several times to make sure it was hanging just right. In my young mind, I just knew the devil was going to get me if I did not repetitiously straighten that towel several times until it was hanging perfectly.

My mother never questioned me on, "What took you so long in the bathroom?" Neither did my mother or father threaten me with, "The devil is going to get you!" This is just something that I created in my young mind that took on a dominance at times in my life as a child. This thinking was so profound in my young mind that I never forgot these feelings.

Like my mother, everything had a place and everything had to be in their place. As I got older and had children these feeling turned to, "Oh, so what!"

This was just one instance of OCD behavior I recognized as I grew up. Since I married and had three children these behaviors were finally kicked by the wayside because I was a full-time nurse and had three children and a husband to care. I did not have the time to run back to hang a towel just right that I knew would end up on the floor anyway.

I could drive myself crazy with a few repetitive behaviors or get rid of them. I chose to rid myself of the shackles of some of these actions simply because I did not have the time for this nonsense which is exactly what it was.

What Causes OCD?

OCD revolves around thoughts, urges, actions, and images controlling your life. These thoughts and actions are unwanted and disturbing to the person experiencing them. These things create a lot of anxiety and discomfort for the person, no matter what age. If you are plagued by these things you no doubt feel that when you make certain behaviors and actions repetitive you can reduce the anxiety and discomfort. In essence, all you are doing is giving in to unnecessary compulsions.

The mental health field says there is only one type of OCD. However, OCD can have up to four different categories and several different levels or types of illness.

Does OCD label me mentally ill and disabled?

OCD can be very minimal or life-changing to the point of being so severe that it affects your ability to mingle in society and go to work every day, so you retreat to the safety of your home, unable to enter society or work. The Social Security Administration take each case separately. If your doctor has prescribed all the medication available and you still suffer severely from OCD you may be deemed as disabled, but this is entirely up to your doctor and the Social Security Administration whether or not OCD affects your ability to function from day to day.

I read where OCD is difficult for your doctor to diagnose because OCD can mimic so many other illnesses such as but not limited to anxiety, schizophrenia, and depression. If your doctor believes you have OCD you must work closely with your doctor during any treatment recommended. As I understand you are deemed disabled only after all treatment and medication options fail to successfully help you live your life as normal life as possible.

I believe that I am a perfectionist type of person. I have to have all my ducks in a row, everything has a place and everything must be in their place. It is when this "Perfectionism" runs rampant that OCD may rear its ugly head. I was like my mother, God rest her soul. My mom was a perfectionist. In school, anything below an A was not good enough. Everything had a place and everything had to be in their assigned place in her home and work life. Looking back many years I can see where I was much like my mother.

For instance, I remember my mom saying, "Go get the furniture polish and dust cloth and dust for me." I would do as she asked, but she would go behind me and move items to the place where she thought they should be placed. I am talking about moving these items only maybe 1/2 inch. I consider this as a perfectionist action. It would bug her if the item was not exactly as she thought it should be placed.

When I married and had three children this materialistic and perfect behavior I picked up from my mom gradually went to the curb because when you have children in the household you can continue to drive yourself crazy keeping the home in "Perfect" order. I was forced to lighten up a bit.

If you find that you are "too perfect" of a person, I believe you can tether on the line of being OCD.

Q. Is being perfect considered a mental illness?

A. From what I have read perfectionism is not considered a mental illness. However, if you have the need to be perfect and perform perfect duties at home and in your work life, perfectionism can be a risk factor towards OCD. Researchers find a strong link between OCD and perfectionism.

So what if I have OCD? What's it going to do to me?

Any person can get caught up in a cycle of actions relating to obsessions and compulsions that eventually drives you crazy nuts. You also tend to drive those around you crazy with your behaviors of repetitive actions and sometimes your "perfect" expectations of life.

This type of behavior can pick at your innermost being and make you uncomfortable and anxious. Being OCD affects more people than you ever thought possible.

I do not believe that having to have all your ducks in order is a bad thing, but when this takes over your life and the life of those around you it becomes a problem for everyone, including you.

Is OCD Terminal?

The answer all depends upon what you consider terminal. If you think about the definition of a terminal state, I believe we are all terminal from the day we are born. Some people are closer to the end of life than others. However, no, OCD is not terminal.

The researches and reports throughout the medical community say that those with severe cases of OCD stand a higher risk for suicide. I think this is because of the constant and never-ending obsessive and repetitive actions demanded of the person suffering from OCD. Some feel strongly they need to shed the shackles of this disorder and turn to suicide.

Q. "So what! What is it to anyone if I have OCD, it is not hurting them?"

I beg to differ with anyone who feels this way. I believe that a person with OCD certainly does affect loved ones and friends. Your OCD can drive those around you bananas. Those people who do not have one bit of OCD does not understand the compulsions of those who suffer from this diagnosis. It is your job to be patient and understanding as long as their actions are not hurting you, family, or friends.

Your persistent behaviors related to thoughts, fears, repetitive actions suffer from anxiety and these behaviors tend to bring some relief to the person, however, the relief is very short in nature.

One way to better understand this illness is:

  • Obsessions lead to compulsions
  • Compulsions lead to repetitive thoughts that are intrusive, uncomfortable, and so powerful that they soon produce unwanted anxiety.
  • People with OCD generally know that their compulsions and obsessions are of an extreme nature and unnecessary.

The easiest way to understand OCD is when a person has unwanted and repeated thoughts, ideas, images, urges, obsessions, actions or behaviors causing them to do something over and over again in the hopes of ridding themselves of these thoughts. The difficult thing to understand is that the person with OCD knows that none of this makes no sense.

From all that I have read and understood OCD is more common than you may imagine.

**I do not claim to have any degrees in psychology. Article statements are of a personal opinion. Information is from websites researched, personal reference materials, and over 40 years as a nurse.

If you feel you may be plagued with a mental health issue contact your primary care physician for advice and help. Never self-diagnose or self-treat.

References Only:

  • Personal Opinion
  • Work Experience

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