This week, October 13th to the 19th, is International OCD Awareness Week. Every time I see something inspiring online, I feel an urge to pitch in and do my bit. My Inner Perfectionist, though, is having a bit of a struggle with this. What is the right thing to write about, exactly? Let’s open the door to my OCD mind and have a look at what’s going on in there...
> My goal: To write something meaningful about OCD that the general public might not be aware of; to create a seismic shift in perceptions about how people with this illness are regarded in society.
< That’s a lot to do in one blog entry. How about just trying to be funny instead?
> Naw, I find the whole lack of awareness kind of discouraging; an average wait of 14 to 17 years for treatment from the onset of symptoms is not really funny.
< Okay, then write about that; write about things that need to change.
> But where to start?
< How about the lack of funding for services?
> If there was more awareness, there would be more funding.
< Wait a second, was that a circular thought?
> What is a circular thought anyway? I know what I mean, but I don’t know if I have the right word for it. It must be called something, a thought-thing where you can switch the question for the answer and the answer for the question.
< I’m not sure if that’s what a circular thought is.
> Never mind, you’re getting off topic.
< IknowIknowIknow! ...Uh, what was the topic?
> I was writing about awareness.
> What if I can’t think of something inspiring and seismic-shift-inducing to write about? Maybe I should post a bunch of links to the good stuff that various people and groups are doing; anything I write will just be redundant anyway.
> But I must have something to say – I’m writing a whole frickin’ graphic novel about OCD.
< I could say something inspiring.
< I could say something to galvanize popular opinion.
< I could write about things regarding OCD in society that piss me off.
> I’m pretty sure I’ve already done that.
< I could write about... I could write just about anything. I could write about how the sun looks when you have OCD.
> I could write about what it means to love animals when you have OCD.
< I could write about playing 'Cards Against Humanity' or recycling or making a living or the responsibilities of OCD perspectives in the public discourse about mental health or –
> ...Mental health? Or mental illness? Why do we always refer to mental problems as “mental health?” “I have a mental health problem.” Isn’t that, like, a double negative?
> That’s not a double negative.
< Okay so not a double negative, but something, in the sense that “health” and “problem” contradict each other?
> Do they do that with any other illnesses? What would that sound like? “I have a cancer health problem”?!
My mind goes on and on like that about most decisions I have to make. Maybe you’re thinking, right now, “I think like that too sometimes! And I don’t have OCD.” And that could quite possibly be true.
If you want to get a sense of where OCD fits in this picture, start reading again, out loud, from the top. While you read, imagine that you or someone you love is standing precariously on a narrow ledge high up on a tall building. You have until the end of the paragraph to decide what to write about, and if you can’t, you or the person you love will fall to your/their death. Every word you read brings you closer to catastrophe. How do you respond? Do you slow down, read every word two or three or times over, or more? Do you try to slow down time itself? Do you go back to the beginning before you’re done and start over again? An OCD mind will tell you that something that can and must be done to prevent a terrible disaster, no matter how ridiculous it seems.
Maybe that’s not everyone’s OCD. Maybe in psychiatric terms I’m describing anxiety, not OCD.
> Well, it’s interesting you say that, because the thing about anxiety and OCD is –
Ooops, there I go again. Sorry about that.
Maybe... Maybe... Maybe that’s why OCD is sometimes called, “The Doubting Disease.”
Just in case you weren’t aware.