I’m SO OCD!

People have developed this habit of saying “I am so OCD about ___”. They say it because they like their shelf organized or because they are picky about what foods to eat. They say it because they are squeamish about something dirty or because they are fussy about their appearance. They say it without understanding what they are saying.

I want to say to them, You’re OCD about that? Really? Can you even name the types of OCD?

Have you ever thought that maybe someone tampered with the food at the grocery store, dropping drugs or worse inside, so you carefully choose the items out of view on the back of the shelf? Do you have to hear the safety seal of your item click or you’ll dispose of it? Have you ever second-guessed it and disposed of it anyway? Have you ever walked away from a counter mid-order because suddenly the people behind the counter didn’t appear trustworthy, even when you frequent the counter daily? Have you ever thrown away perfectly good food because it seemed “off”? Do you do this every day? Have you ever made yourself throw up halfway through a meal because suddenly it had a strange taste or texture and may have been poisoned? Have you ever feared overdosing on common medications like vitamins or antibiotics, to the point that you went to the doctor or called poison control? Does touching something sticky send you into a panic? Have you ever been afraid to eat something or take a medicine in case you had an anaphylactic reaction even though you have no known allergies? Have you ever stopped eating whole food groups for the fear of contamination of heavy metals or pesticides? Do you frequently research your symptoms and illnesses that you could possibly have?

Have you ever washed your hands until they cracked and bled? Taken showers or changed clothing multiple times a day? Do you rinse your glasses and utensils sometimes several times before use? Do you prep food on clean plates instead of your cutting board because it may be unsafe since you last used it? Do you throw away your belongings in fear that they have drugs, chemicals or poison on them? Do you think batteries are going to explode or leak causing you to inhale or touch toxic vapor or chemicals?

Do you spend hours a day obsessing over the what-ifs? Did you watch your boyfriend go from overwhelmingly supportive to frustrated and fed up with your “constant negativity”, while blaming yourself the whole time? Have you had to go home sick from work or even change jobs because you couldn’t cope with the environment? Have you isolated yourself from your friends and family in fear that if anyone sees you they will know how “crazy” you are? Do you constantly have to reassure yourself that you are not worthless?

Do you do all of this while trying to be a good mom, run a household, make appointments, go to work, and appear normal? Do you do all of this without falling into such a depressive state that it effects every corner of your life?

No? You don’t do any of those things?

Then stop saying that you’re OCD. Using OCD as a synonym for clean, anal or organized might seem harmless, but it’s not. It keeps people from truly understanding the disorder, which makes it harder for those that have it to get help.

 

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Independence Day, literally.

For two days I have tried to write this entry. I have written paragraphs, only to dissect them and ultimately delete them. Each effort began on a different tone or at a different scene, but the result was always the same: darkness. My mind is like a black, empty void that is scrambling to give description to 14 years of repressed grief.


“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.”

Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy


 

Independence Day, 2002 took a very literal meaning for me when my mother, who was terminally ill with breast Cancer that metastasized to her bone and brain, passed away in the hospital. She was 48.

It wasn’t sudden. My mother fought for 6 years with Cancer and never really went into remission. We were constantly told that she would die, as if she had some expiration date stamped on her arm. My bed-ridden mother was the reality for so long that I guess I perceived it as normal. I didn’t believe that she would die, or at least told myself that I still had plenty of time. Time to talk to her and hear her old stories. Time to play games. Time to drop the teenage attitude and be a better daughter.

There wasn’t enough time.

I don’t remember my mother before she died, with her bald head from too many rounds of chemo or her heart surgery scar. I remember the version of her as she was when I was a small child. I remember her boy haircut, and her big plastic glasses. I remember her red lipstick and her puffy purple coat. I remember how she was the director of Camp Fire boys and girls, and I know now that it’s because she wanted nothing more in her life than to be with her two daughter’s and their friends every day. I remember her borrowing money just to put food on the table. We didn’t usually have much but my mother put us first.

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My mother, cooking in the kitchen, how I remember her.

My mother didn’t make it to my High School graduation. The birth of my first child. My wedding. My divorce! Mother’s Day comes and goes and I’m not sure whether to mourn or celebrate because I am a mother without one. Time goes on but the scars are permanent.

I was left to spend my days with my alcoholic father, who joined her in 2010. I remember so many nights, laying in bed and asking the darkness, why?  My mother’s passing brought my father and I together. So, if there can be any ‘why’, it was that. Nothing helps you understand the fleeting beauty of life more than death. Nothing helps you understand what is important in life more than death. The people in our lives are the most important. The connection, the bond, the stories, and the memories that we share.

The people that you call family, whoever they may be, are your greatest gifts in life. Forget the arguments, the drama, the fights, the blame or the wrongdoings. Grab hold of them. Don’t learn about life from loss.