My Personal Struggle with OCD

There’s a little voice inside that often wills to me. It whispers, “Let it go.” I try my best to listen. I really do. I try to rationalize with myself that it is okay for things to be out of place, for toys to be scattered throughout the house and the sink to have dirty dishes. But there’s this overwhelming desire, this necessity, to keep things in order. To make sure that everything is in its rightful place, at all times. I’m rarely unable to “let it go.” This is my personal struggle. And, in many instances, it has become my family’s struggle as well.

You may have caught on through some of my posts and tweets that I suffer from that suckish condition called Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD. Although I always suspected I had OCD, I wasn’t formally diagnosed until seven years ago. Like anyone suffering from a so-called disorder, I have good days and I have not so good days. My level of compulsion is not nearly as bad as what you see on Monk – I don’t scrub things until my hands bleed or feel the need to have all the labels on soup cans facing the same way – but it has worsened as I’ve aged.

More often than not, I find myself distracted when I shouldn’t be, thinking about things that do not really matter. Wrapping paper all over the living room floor during Christmas, for instance. Near the end of opening gifts I was consumed by thoughts of having to throw the paper and packaging remnants into the trash. It was nearly impossible for me to refrain from taking my attention from the kids enjoying their new gear to collecting all the paper and tossing it. It sounds crazy, selfish almost, but I have OCD and that is my reality, as it is for millions of others.

According to Beyond OCD, a non-profit working to increase public and professional awareness of OCD, in the U.S. about 1 in 40 adults (2.3% of the population) and 1 in 100 children have OCD. It is defined as an anxiety disorder that is primarily neurobiological. Unlike other disorders, no one is immune. Beyond reports that OCD equally affects men, women and children of all races, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Family members of OCD sufferers are also affected – my family has been and continues to be impacted by my behavior and so-called rituals. I hate the stress that I sometimes create – the difficulties that I indirectly inflict upon those closest to me. It’s unfair and I know there are times when they suffer, often alone, in silence. They accept me for who I am and understand that I lack control over my obsessive nature to keep things clean and organized. But that doesn’t excuse the fact that it can be downright exhausting living with me.

At the recommendation of my doctor, I’ve tried various medications. They have had little effect on curbing my OCD tendencies. If anything, these drugs made me excessively tired and caused further distraction. Recently, I’ve been trying a number of self-help therapies in an attempt to take back control of my mind and my life. Several are proving moderately successful. Maybe one day soon, I will be rid of this energy draining parasite called OCD. Until then, I can only hope and reflect on the girl I used to be.

When I think back to my childhood, I remember closets shoved full of Barbies and clothes, my bed overflowing with stuffed animals and clutter everywhere. The mess didn’t bother me back then; in fact, I enjoyed the quiet chaos of my room. It was my sanctuary. I wish I had been able to hang on to that carefree, less uptight girl and carry her into my adult years. But she was lost somewhere along the way. Today, I am a woman struggling to let go of the little things.

Posted on by Crystal in OCD Moms

34 Responses to My Personal Struggle with OCD

  1. DT

    “she was lost somewhere along the way. ”
    So when did it change? after your first child? Curious .
    How about shock therapy ie getting dirty in a mud bath and not taking a shower .Or similar options.

    • Crystal

      It was right after the birth of my first child that I first noticed the onset of OCD.The thing with my OCD is that I am not worried about or obsessing over germs or dirt, more so things being unorganized or cluttered. I can get my hands dirty and I would love a mud bath. It would be like a spa day for me! LOL But I understand what you are saying. Cognitive therapy – I think they call it. I have tried self-help methods that are similar. Did not work.

  2. Tina Barbour

    I can so relate to the clinging, ever-present quality of OCD. I don’t have a problem with keeping things neat and uncluttered. My problems lie more in checking and contamination issues. I’ve done some exposure and response prevention therapy, on my own and with a therapist, and it has helped. I’m also on medication that helps. I hope you have success in “letting go” in 2013!
    Tina Barbour recently posted..Letting go of emotions that feed my OCD and depression

    • Crystal

      Glad to hear that you are having success treating your OCD. That is wonderful! Aiming to find some relief this year myself. 🙂

  3. Kelly McGuill

    HI Crystal,
    Thanks for your comment on my blog O so D. I can relate, only too well with your blog and your comments. For me, medicine has been a God-send, it did take awhile for it to kick in and also made me very tired at first, but for all or any of the negative side effects;the positives totally out-weighed them. When i first was diagnosed my doctor said that OCD was totally treatable ,I have to say that I now agree. I would also recommend getting “The feeling good workbook” by David Burns MD…
    I wish you the best, keep in touch , kelly McGuill

    • Crystal

      Hi Kelly!

      And thanks for visiting. I’m going to order the handbook you suggested. Worth checking out for sure and reevaluating my thinking on traditional therapies. Thanks for suggesting. Be well!


  4. David

    Sorry to hear about your struggle. I have had OCD accompanied by PTSD, since I was a kid.

    You should check out the OCD foundation. Is had a wealth of knowledge.

    I am doing the cognitive therapy. I have got most of my issues down. The whole not liking to touch things has been pretty stubborn though.

    • Crystal

      Thanks for stopping by, David. I’m sorry to hear about your own struggle with OCD and PTSD. I would love to hear more about the cognitive therapy approach you are taking and will check out the OCD Foundation. Stay strong!

  5. The Dose of Reality

    This was such a great post. The way you’ve described how it feels is just so illuminating. Thank you.
    The Dose of Reality recently posted..Pass the Smelling Salts

    • Crystal

      You’re welcome. Thank you for reading. Hoping by sharing my story I can help other moms struggling with the same issues. 🙂

  6. Alissa Apel

    I have this problem when I’m working on artwork and decorating. I don’t want anyone helping me and it better turn out right, or I’ll scrap the whole thing.

    As far as my daily life goes I’ve learned to let go just because I’m a teacher and a mom. With being a teacher, there wasn’t room for me to have my way. Some students don’t do what I ask of them at all! It really bothered me when I first started!
    Alissa Apel recently posted..Oreo Challenge

    • Crystal

      I’m the same way with crafts and baking, Alissa. If I bomb, it gets tossed. LOL Thanks for stopping by!

  7. Sadie

    I totally know what you are going through. I struggle with the same problem. It actually comes and goes for me and hits when no one is expecting it. My poor husband…he gets the brunt of it. I hope 2013 will be a good year for you!
    Sadie recently posted..Music of the Heart – Day 3

    • Crystal

      Husbands are often on the receiving end. Poor guys! I hope 2013 is good for you as well!

  8. social anxiety

    It is actually a great and useful piece of information. I am glad that you just shared this helpful info with us. Please keep us up to date like this. Thanks for sharing.

    • Crystal

      You are welcome. Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Stacie

    Thank you for sharing such a personal story about OCD. Much success to you on your journey.
    Stopping by to say hi from SITS Saturday!
    Stacie recently posted..Real Talk – An Honest Look at 2012

    • Crystal

      Thank you, Stacie! I’m happy you stopped by. 🙂

  10. Sheila Skillingstead

    I enjoyed reading your post but it made me sad that I couldn’t fix anything. I grew up in a dysfunctional to the max family and that made me the fixer trying to be safe in chaos. That is my obsession–trying to make everything better for everyone. Thank you for sharing your experience. One day they will figure out ways to make things better or perhaps even fix the condition. One day at a time. Visiting from Sharefest.
    Sheila Skillingstead recently posted..Classic

  11. Stephanie @ CMTS Blog

    I too struggle with OCD. My house caught on fire when I was 10, and since then I have been a “checker.” I am 27 now and ever since then, I have struggled with checking things. When I leave the house, I may check the door 10 times to make sure it is locked, even thought I KNOW it is locked. Did I put the dog in the house? Did I turn the stove off? Thankfully, it has gotten better over the years. My husband has also learned to help me cope. If he checks the doors on the way out to make sure they are locked, then I take his word for it and don’t have any anxiety. The sucky thing about OCD is that we KNOW the way we are thinking is not right,but we can’t help the anxiety we feel over certain things. You are not alone! Stopping in from SITS 🙂

    • Crystal

      Sounds like you have a great support network! I’m sorry you’re living with OCD, but very glad you stopped by. It’s nice to connect with others who “get it”. Keep in touch!

  12. Pingback: MommiFried - The SITS Girls

  13. misssrobin

    My husband had to go to bed early because of an OCD meltdown he was having. He has anger issues with his. Without his medication, Citalopram, he wouldn’t be allowed to live with us. It’s just too ugly. Even with the meds and the therapy he’s had, it’s still tough. But he keeps working at it and we’ve learned better techniques for how to deal with it. It sucks, but it’s life and we deal. You know?

    Sorry about the constant state of anxiety you deal with. I hope you find a few moments of peace.
    misssrobin recently posted..Why I Asked for Support

  14. Michelle

    I’m a “checker” – over the years I’ve gotten better but any kind of stress makes it worse. Thanks for a wonderful post – you are definitely not alone!
    Michelle recently posted..Preserving Your Personal History: Does the Delete Button Have the Power to Change the Past?

  15. jamie@[kreyv]

    This is really interesting and made me relate to a few of your tendencies. Great post (and Happy SITS Day!)
    jamie@[kreyv] recently posted..All the Cool Kids are Going to Be There

  16. The Roving Retorter

    I’ve never been formally diagnosed but I think I have this too…
    The Roving Retorter recently posted..Camp Cause and Effect

  17. Raquel @ Organized Island

    I am sorry to hear your struggle. I am a huge checker, and certainly have OCD tendencies although I have never had a diagnosis. I wish you the best in your fight against it. Happy SITS day too!
    Raquel @ Organized Island recently posted..Spring is here at DownEast Basics

  18. KyFireWife

    I wish I could get my husband to understand why we cannot go to sleep with the comforter on crooked. Sometimes I swear he does it on purpose just to watch me get frazzled.

    And yes, it is a big deal. And no, I can’t just let it go and sleep with it crooked for one night. It’s WRONG. Fix it. Now.

    While it doesn’t affect me to the degree that my house has to be perfectly tidied up (sometimes I wish it did, LOL!), I definitely have certain things that HAVE to be fixed or I can’t focus on anything else, my mind is out of whack, we cannot move on until it gets put back in place.

    {{ stopping by from SITS }}
    KyFireWife recently posted..She needs a mirror, I think.

  19. Ashley

    I have OCD tendencies, but I am slowly getting away from some of them (some are pretty stuck). I really think things like this get worse with age because I don’t remember having issues when I was younger. I hope you find something that helps!

  20. Venassa

    I don’t let it bother me too much, but I fight off OCD at times, about certain things. It takes so much effort to play with my daughter after supper instead of immediately cleaning everything up. I feel stressed out if I dont clean up her toys and supper mess immediately after she goes to bed. Boyfriend can’t understand why I cant just sit and relax but if her toys are everywhere, there’s no such thing as relaxing. If the comforter isn’t on the bed right, there’s no such thing as sleep.
    Venassa recently posted..I’m Wondering Wednesday

  21. Whitney

    Sharing such a personal story is very courageous, thank you for sharing.
    Whitney recently posted..Pinterest Wednesday

  22. Rabia @ TheLiebers

    Thank you for sharing your story. I hope that some people will be able to find some comfort and maybe some answers from reading it.

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