Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: I count alone

Posted: Sunday, November 08, 2009

There is stillness in a classroom; third period is the worst. To her the classroom isn't right and makes her nervous. There is too much time for her to get lost in her thoughts that soon turned into fear.

So many things are out of place. In the back of her mind, she keeps an ongoing list of what to do to fix things. She waits for the bell to save her from herself.

Trying not to look as she feels, she knows that she can't hide from what is torturing her. The obsessive thoughts are telling her to fix the room, but she is too ashamed. The disorder is slowly taking over. She gives in and starts to clean away her feelings.

At home she is safe from judgment, but school is different. She isn't safe to perform the rituals. Being different by having OCD makes her life unbearable.

No matter how hard she tries to appear normal, she feels that everyone at school can see the mark of OCD that she wears everyday. The comments and judgments are slowly crushing her, word by word. It has left her empty and alone.

As the words hit the paper, I feel better - that girl is still a part of me. I am just not dwelling about who I am. I proudly wear the mark of OCD.

Not everyone with the disorder washes their hands or counts things. It is not just stress that has built up of an excuse for a perfectionist. It's a real disorder that requires some form of help. There are so many stereotypes about OCD that are completely false.

OCD is the fourth commonly diagnosed disorder in America. There are 2.2 million people in America that are affected. And many people who have OCD have similar feelings of shame and fear.

There are different types and forms of OCD, ranging from slight to severe. The disorder is when a person feels as thought they have to perform what is called rituals. Rituals are the task that they feel they need to do, and if they don't give in and do the rituals then something bad is going to happen to either them or someone they care about. If they don't do the rituals then there is an overwhelming feeling of anxiety and fear.

Some symptoms of OCD are being preoccupied with order and symmetry and avoiding cracks on sidewalks. People with OCD may also exhibit inappropriate sexual or aggressive thoughts and repeating behaviors like speech and actions. They may avoid traffic intersections, ask for assurance. harbor passions and compulsively count objects or compulsively clean.

There is a small percent who don't get help and hide their symptoms. It can be dangerous to not get help; it may lead to depression or result in the disorder to get to a point where it can't be controlled and leads to other mental health problems. It doesn't always get worse OCD can get overcome and easier to live with.

There are a few different steps to finding the right treatment. The first thing is seeking out help and support form a family member or friend. Support is very important and can help a lot. The next is to seek out help from a mental heath professional. The next is to figure what that person feels comfortable with. For example treating OCD there is some medication that may help a bit, there is meeting with a counselor regularly and some stress management techniques. I'm learning to understand situations that trigger me and how to perform my rituals without being noticed.

• Molly Houston is a senior at JDHS, and a student in Ali McKenna's "Writing for Publication" class. She plans on attending college and entering the field of social work.

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