Content Warning: Intrusive Thoughts, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Minor Violence
As a child, I believed it was normal to fear your parents committing murder when you become ten years old.
That it was normal to want to see the people you love get hurt brutally.
That it was normal to hate reading the word “I” because I would then have to describe to myself who that “I” was referring to; more specifically, that it was not me.
That it was normal to categorize everyone and everything into numbers.
That it was normal to touch things over and over and over for seconds that became minutes that became hours.
That it was normal to have thoughts of hurting people.
That fearing waking up in the middle of the Sun, unable to die, stuck in eternal suffering of heat and loneliness.
To fear being stuck in the Sun.
As I grew older I realized none of this was normal. I began to share these thoughts, these routines, these fears with others. I quickly sheltered myself and bottled everything up when I saw the fear, disgust, and concern on their faces. This is when I learned none of this was how I was “supposed” to be feeling.
As an adult I realized
It isn’t normal to fear waking up in another person’s body and losing the life you had.
It isn’t normal to fear going to Hell for not praying for something constantly.
It isn’t normal to fear the people you love will end up on a stranded island alone.
It isn’t normal to fear I am going blind when accidentally poking my eye.
It isn’t normal to fear a cut from a cat on my thumb would lead to me needing to amputate my entire arm.
All these things are “not normal.” By that I mean, for the average person, intrusive thoughts are not something that occur of this intensity and this often. However this phenomenon can be categorized by three simple letters.
Ironically, I first heard of this while watching a youtuber named Ally Hills who talked about her OCD thoughts and compulsions. She’s the person who helped me claim my sexuality as a lesbian, and is also the person who helped me feel not absurd, so shoutout to her. (Seriously if you’re Ally reading this hit me up).
Watching Ally’s videos was a breath of fresh air. To speed things up, I told my parents about what I was experiencing. They took me to a doctor, and she officially diagnosed me with OCD. She also explained to me and my parents that even my scariest thoughts had nothing to do with me as a person, it was common for people with OCD to experience these things.
So what are intrusive thoughts?
Intrusive thoughts are simply unwelcome thoughts that enter your mind and you can’t alleviate. For people without OCD, intrusive thoughts still can occur. However, not of the same frequency, and more importantly they can easily dismiss the thought and carry on. From the lense of someone with OCD, dismissing these thoughts is not an option.
I cried for hours on my bed in 7th grade in fear of losing myself in the Sun. Literally. When my father heard me I made up an excuse. So trust me, if getting these thoughts were an option, I’d definitely have done so by now.
Working with doctors and therapists I was put on medication and started Compulsive Behavioral Therapy which is a topic for another article.
Now I’ve written this whole article somewhat sporadically and without a solid point yet. The reason I’m writing this is: OCD is portrayed in the media again and again as a quirk, a trait, an attribute. Whereas, of course, it’s not.
“Sorry, I’m so OCD ,I just had to straighten that out.” Mmm, not really. Now don’t get me wrong, this totally could be a compulsion for somebody.
Misconceptions about OCD
Timeout. What’s a compulsion?
A compulsion is an action or saying that can help rid intrusive thoughts.
For example, “if I don’t jump up and down 47 times right now someone I love will get hurt.” Jump 47 times, and you’ll feel slight relief for a temporary amount of time until the thought undoubtedly resurfaces.
People often say this without really knowing what “OCD” means. I definitely don’t want to come off as upset or angry at these people! It simply demonstrates how little is known about this disorder and how important it is that we start spreading awareness.
OCD is essentially a vacuum. The thoughts and compulsions have me sucked in. I’ve been so engrossed in my OCD that I’ve been lacking in so many aspects of my life. My friends, my schoolwork, even my own HerCampus team.
Now that I’ve made this entire article extremely depressing and raw- let me say this. My story will see it’s happy ending, even if it doesn’t arise right now. However, spreading awareness and educating is one way to help all those in my shoes, or those who know someone struggling.
This article is a call for all those stuck in the sun.