I’m Not Single, I’m Dating OCD

This may come as a surprise to some people, but I, Olivia Cama, have OCD. “That’s crazy! I had no idea!” Glad we got that out of the way. I had no idea for a while either.

When I was eight, my dad got very sick and he was sick for most of that year. Due to that, my OCD made its first appearance, of course, without a word to describe it and certainly not a spotlight on it. It began with intrusive thoughts: images that came into my brain and would not leave, which were scary to a child, but I thought they were normal. Then it progressed to “checking and counting”, always in the number two. I would walk through a door frame once and then go back through it again, tap things in sets of two only, and the weirdest part, I thought this was a normal part of growing up.

Here’s the twist: my dad got better and so did I. Everyone always said we were tethered at the hip, and in this case, it appeared to be true.

OCD is chronic though, it’s a mental illness that doesn’t go away, it can only be managed. So, sure enough, age thirteen, it came back and never left (coupled with anxiety, it has no reason to go anywhere).

As I got older, my “OCD tendencies” got worse, keeping a hold on me much more than ever before. The number switched to three, and it became checking faucets, light switches, locks, doors, all in sets of threes. In my freshman year of high school, for a fun fact, I said I was obsessed with the number three, and people just stared at me in disbelief. The next girl said she had a dog. I don’t think I will ever live that one down. Anxious; mental health image Photo by Becca Tapert on Unsplash

There’s something so distinctly terrifying about your own brain telling you that if you don’t check all the electrical outlets again and again, the entire house will burn down and everyone will die. That if I don’t open and close a window in sets of three that all of my stuff will get sucked outside. As you can see, none of this makes any sense. That’s the beauty of it all, I know it’s irrational and I can’t change it; it’s a cycle.

I go to therapy, I talk to myself, and I mostly try to balance between telling people about my struggles and keeping them to myself. There is this idea that if you tell people about what you are struggling with, they will judge you, not want to be your friend, deny you opportunities and so on. That’s a fear of mine at least, that people will find about my mental issues and suddenly see me differently, as if I haven’t had OCD and anxiety since I was a child. I hope that when someone tells you about their mental illness(es), you don’t judge them, you listen to them and remember that they are still the same person. In the end, “Hi, I’m Olivia, same girl, still here, just more honest”.

I used to want to get rid of my OCD, which is not possible in the end, but it is a part of me, and makes me who I am. Faucets, threes, and locks included—even if I wanted to get a divorce, couples therapy is the best we can do.