Perhaps in a previous post somewhere (can’t remember where now) I mentioned that I’d discuss with you one day my OCD(Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) tendencies.  I have hesitated before now because I have not been officially diagnosed by a mental health professional and I don’t wish to be seen as one of those people who self-diagnoses off Web-MD, then blows their symptoms out of proportion.  What could also sometimes be referred to as internet hypochondriacs.  However, it has been several years now since I realized that what I do is not normal, so I feel justified in my self-diagnosis that I do in fact suffer from OCD.  I tend to hide it from people, but I remember one particular event where my brother was visiting from out of town and we were getting ready to leave the house.  I stopped to check the stove 3 or 4 times and he asked me why since I had been the only one home all day and I hadn’t used the stove in several days.  I didn’t have an answer as to why.  I knew it wasn’t logical, yet I couldn’t prevent myself from doing it.  Not to mention, since he distracted me, I had to go back and do it again.

You may ask why I have never been diagnosed nor treated.  I have wanted treatment for quite some time.  Not in the form of pills, but simply techniques or mental exercises that I can do to reduce the anxiety I get if I don’t check things.  However, when I lived in the US, treatment just wasn’t affordable.  I could barely afford the doctor’s visit and prescription for my allergies let alone a therapist.  Then I moved to Korea and although it is probably less expensive here and I have more financial flexibility, therapy here is not as common as it’s still seen as unacceptable to admit that you have a mental disorder so I don’t think I would be comfortable going to someone here, not to mention the difference in language.  I am sure I could find a practitioner who spoke good English, but I need someone who will understand my rapid thinking pace (my train of thought is faster than the KTX, no pun intended) and not have to stop my trains of thought to be sure they are fully understood.  So instead I just deal with it.  Just like with any mental disorder, I have good days and bad.  Some days I only have to check things once.  Other days it takes 7,8,9 times to get it right.

I noticed that when I’m not alone, such as when having a guest stay with me or living with others, I am not as bad about checking things multiple times.  Perhaps that is for fear of what they will think of me or perhaps it’s that I feel less anxiety and more stability and safety when others are around.  To reiterate, being OCD does not produce logical thought processes and many parts of the way I think cannot be explained, but it is what it is.  I am thankful that it is not worse and I am thankful that my family and friends are supportive.  My parents even bought me Howie Mandel’s book a couple years ago, which helped make me feel a little less alone (Howie often speaks publicly about his rituals and dealing with these anxieties on a daily basis).  I am able to laugh at myself because me being a logical thinker, having these uncontrollable illogical thoughts can be amusing.  It is quite an internal battle, but since I can’t change it, might as well accept it.

For those who don’t know much about OCD, I can’t tell you much.  Sorry.  I don’t know much about it myself.  There are different types of OCD, mine is the obsession with checking things for safety, such as locks, outlets, stoves, lights, etc.  To give you a glimpse of my particular brand of OCD, here is a clip from the show that A&E has called “Obsessed.”  It shows a man who is afflicted with many of the same obsessions I am.  I do not write down a list as he does, nor do I check the water (I sometimes do but not often).  Nor do I know what triggered my OCD like he does, but a lot of the rituals are very similar.

Until I can get proper treatment, if anyone out there suffers from OCD or knows someone who does and knows of any mental exercises to try on my own, please let me know.  I am thankful that it does not affect my daily life, besides being part of the reason I’m always running late, so I am not in need of urgent care, but living a little more at peace would be nice.  I realize that putting it all out there means sharing a very personal issue with my friends, acquaintances and unknown readers, but I think knowing these types of issues that people generally hide only helps us all to understand each other better, so I think it is worth that feeling of vulnerability that will inevitably follow when I publish this post.

And as a send off, here’s a short interview Howie Mandel did on the Ellen show where he balances the seriousness with the ability to laugh about it too.  I’ve always been a fan of Howie’s.  My germ obsessions aren’t overly strong these days, but they are still there, so I sympathize with him.

3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The Comfort of Safety in Korea « FickleFolly
  2. Trackback: What’s good for the goose - Unemployblog
  3. Trackback: So Much To Do…So Much Time « MikesFilmTalk

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