I’ve lived with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in some capacity for quite awhile but never realized it until recently, recently being the last few years. You’d think it would take a load off my mind. You’d assume that knowing the cause of many problems and pains would ease those pains. You’d be wrong. This is the part of the story that I should convey my disdain for medicine that would aid my disorder. Jack Nicholson hit the nail on the proverbial head in As Good As It Gets: “I’m using the word hate here about a pill.” To me it feels like taking those pills may change my personality. I don’t want to change unless I cause the change, unless I sanction the change, unless I facilitate the change. Therefore I have chosen, for the time being, to try to change through help from friends and working on it myself. I choose friends over chemicals. Many have criticized this decision. Many are not I.

My OCD is far from severe, but none-the-less, painful. I have gained and loss many friends because I cannot accept certain developments. A great deal of my OCD is social. I may ask a question, hear the answer, and instead of moving on my mind does not accept the answer. The OCD cycle inhibits it. This cycle is where the brain does not realize that a situation has been resolved, such as hand washing. OCD sufferers with a hand washing may wash their hands, but their mind thinks they still have not gotten them clean, so they will wash again, etc. They obsess about a situation then compulse to solve it. I obsess that my social life is constantly in a state of despair and compulse to solve it, which only, in reality breaks it down. Now for those who are alien to OCD this sounds crazy. It gets worse when you have OCD and still know it sounds crazy. Many OCD, if not nearly all OCD sufferers know what they are doing does not make sense. It’s realizing this and then cutting off the compulsion that is imperative.

I have been blessed with many friends who have supported me. I feel almost guilty some days when I realize how many have stuck by me regardless of my near paranoid state of mind some days. Regardless, I feel it can be attributed to a deeper level of commitment between friends united with a level of near empathy for what I am feeling. My friendships are based on the same principles as others: trust, support, tolerance, and compassion: four qualities everyone, not just OCD sufferers, require for a healthy life.

I have many other compulsions but I have been slowly phasing them out with the help of friends. My social compulsions still exist however.

Me: “You ok?”
Friend: “Yeah”
Me: “Sure?”
Friend: “Yeah”
Me: “No, seriously, what’s wrong?”
Friend: “Nothing I’m fine”
Me: “Come on, just say whatever it is”
Friend: “Nothing, I’m fine”

That conversation is quite accurate to many I have. Worse yet they are much longer. People can only take so much, on both sides of the coin: the ones who suffer with OCD and the ones who suffer from those with OCD.

I write this for personal growth coupled with sharing my experience. People should know the pain of OCD, the thinking of a person with OCD, and moreover that OCD is not just washing hands and avoiding cracks in the sidewalk. It can ruin friendships, relationships, and lives. Getting help from friends and family is imperative regardless of chemical help outside that. Just supporting a person can go a long way: even a person without OCD. You’d think caring about a person could be enough… and you’d be right.