What OCD Actually Is, Because It’s More Than Just Wanting To Be Clean

what ocd actually is
Li Yang

I used to think OCD was washing your hands more than once. I used to think OCD was skipping over sidewalk lines, and double checking that your turned off the stove. I used to think it was switching the lights on and off until your anxiety disappeared. I used to think it was simple. Until I started experiencing OCD of my own. And this type of OCD was so much stronger than the urge to wash my hands.

When I got hit with OCD a few months ago, I had no idea what it was. I had no idea that these intrusive thoughts were a form of OCD. I had no idea that these thoughts of harm, were a mental illness. And that this was in fact, OCD. 

My OCD is not wanting to be clean. It’s not mopping my apartment floors ever day. It’s not driving back home to make sure I didn’t light the place on fire. It’s not rearranging my desk a million times a day. It’s not rinsing and lathering and repeating.

My OCD is all in my head. It doesn’t showcase itself for the world to see. You can’t tell by looking at me that I’m any different. You can’t tell by looking at me that I have two mental illness — anxiety and OCD.

And you can’t tell that this type of OCD, is running around in my brain 24-7.

Have you ever had the fleeting thought of crashing your car into someone else’s on the highway? Have you ever had a millimeter second of a thought about actually jumping off the balcony you’re standing on? Have you ever had flickering moment where you are holding a knife and you think to yourself that you might harm yourself or somebody else?

For people with OCD these thoughts are not fleeting. These thoughts are not temporary. They spin around and around in our heads until we feel like we are losing my minds. When I had my first OCD episode, I was positive that something terrible was about to happen. I was positive that I would snap and that I would literally go insane.

But I didn’t. And I know I’m not insane or crazy or psychotic. It’s just the OCD that makes me think it.

You can be having the best day of your life when these thoughts will suddenly pop and hiss at you. I could be working or chatting with a friend when suddenly the thought will whisper at me until it yells and screams. And it never fails to make me scared. Scared for myself, because I can’t even trust my own brain.

So no, OCD is not just about cleanliness or control. It’s not just about needing to check and re-check that I turned the stove off. It’s not just making sure your shirts are aligned perfectly next to one another. It is so much more than that. It is so much more terrible than that.

OCD is haunting. It’s terrifying. It’s mean and it’s dark and it’s not me. But sometimes it likes to try to be me. It likes to play tricks on me. And even when I know that it’s the intrusive thoughts and it’s the OCD and the anxiety, a tiny voice appears in my head sometimes and says ‘what if today is the day that you go crazy?’ ‘What if today is the day, you finally snap?’

It’s the ‘what if’ disease in my head. It’s sometimes all consuming. It’s terrifying. And yet, no one can even see it. No one can see what goes on inside my head.  Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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