**Disclaimer: By no means is the content on my website a substitute for a professional diagnosis or medical treatment. All of the information on this website is simply a reflection of my own personal experiences and the methods I have used to manage my tics and compulsions. The purpose of Mindful Coping is not to provide professional advice or endorse any treatments, medications or procedures. A licensed medical practitioner is the only person who can diagnose you with a mental illness, but regardless of whether or not you live with mental illnesses, I hope this blog can help you develop healthy habits to prioritize mindful wellness.
This blog post deals with a brief description of OCD and its common symptoms. For a more detailed description on types of common treatments or methods I've used to cope, please check out other posts on my blog and the "Coping" section of my website.
*the above image is an example of a misrepresentation of OCD that fails to encapsulate the lived experiences of millions*
OCD (Obsessive-compulsive disorder) is a chronic mental illness that causes those to experience frequent, unruly thoughts, otherwise known as obsessions, and/or uncontrollable urges to complete an action or task repeatedly, called compulsions. Those with OCD engage in their compulsions in order to ease the obsessions and invasive thoughts that can cause high amounts of stress and anxiety.
Obsessions, the O in OCD, are the repeated, uncontrolled thoughts that flow throughout the mind, instilling strong emotions of discomfort, fear, guilt, doubt, or the "just right" feeling, where one is led to believe that a certain action (compulsion) must be completed in a manner that is "just right." Not only do these obsessions draw people away from their daily tasks, but they can reinforce compulsions that create positive feedback loops of heightened anxiety. Obsessions come in a variety of manners, but common ones include:
Aggressive fears of germs and/or contamination
Need for symmetry or orderly execution
Fear of violent self-harm or harming others
Unwanted sexual thoughts
Extreme concern with evenness and precision
Compulsions, the C in OCD, are repetitive physical or mental actions that one is compelled to do as a result of their underlying obsessions. These often interfere with daily activities such as getting ready, working, doing homework, playing sports, exercising, or even going to bed. Repetitive compulsions often nullify the severity of the obsessions/thoughts, which contribute to their repetitive manner. As aforementioned, there are a plethora of diverse compulsions, but common ones are:
Excessive cleaning/showering/hand washing
Repeatedly checking that you have not hurt/will not hurt others/yourself
Rewriting or rereading a passage
Repeated body movements, akin to tics (blinking, pressing, touching, etc.)
Mental compulsions like counting, reordering thoughts, praying, cancelling/undoing a thought
It is also important to note that according to the International OCD Foundation, "up to 60% of TS sufferers have reported to have OCD symptoms, 50% of children with OCD are reported to have tics, and 15% met criteria for TS." In other words, OCD and Tics/TS are very closely related and occur concurrently for many. In fact, there is a specific mental disorder called Tourettic OCD (TOCD) where the mental obsessions are intertwined with the Tics, and patients repeatedly tic until the feeling is "just right."
Overall, OCD can be a very complex, multifaceted disorder, often connected with various other mental disorders. Thus, it is common for patients to be misdiagnosed and mistreated. If you are worried about possibly engaging in OCD like symptoms, contact your Primary Care Physician for a referral to a psychiatrist. You can also find OCD specialists online and pay out of pocket, but PLEASE verify their credentials and ensure that the doctor with whom you are meeting is qualified and reputable. Do not self-diagnose using any online content.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org to share your experiences, tips, techniques, or even just say hello!