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Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder

December 14, 2021

I Need Someone


So, there’s a hella thunderstorm out right now and here I am in my room. Counting. If I just keep counting, I’ll get through this. Counting the pinholes in my ceiling tiles. Losing count. Starting again from the left corner. If I can just count enough of them, I’ll survive the periods between lightning and thunder crashes. I’ll make it through another storm.

I’ve been watching the skies for days. I knew this was coming. It was freaking me out at home. At school. We’ve had seven storms already this month.

Been checking my phone 10 times an hour to see when the storm’s coming. There’s always a storm coming. Always a next storm. We live in a stormy part of the world. Plus, there’s more severe weather due to climate change.

And there goes another flash. Count. Count. Damn. Start over again. Wait. 

I’ll pick something from my playlist. Here’s that sick Brubek piece we’re learning in jazz band. And the count goes 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, 123; 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, 123; 1-2, 1-2, 1-2, 123; 123, 123, 123…

What is obsessive-compulsive disorder or OCD?

Anxiety Canada characterizes OCD as involving fears and anxieties that trigger compulsive behaviours. Obsessions may include fear of germs, fear of harming oneself or others, a fear of something bad happening, or feeling like something isn’t “just right.” To deal with such obsessions, the person with OCD spends considerable time (usually more than an hour a day, sometimes most of a day) trying to reduce them with repetitive or ritual behaviours. These compulsions may include repetitive counting, repeated checking (door locked, stove off), repeated hand-washing, ordering/arranging objects, hoarding items, repeating words. OCD may subside and recur throughout one’s life.

OCD by the Numbers:

·  1 in 100 Canadians aged 15 and older have OCD

· 2/3 of people with OCD develop the disorder in their teens or early 20s

·  81% experience more than just one type of obsession or compulsion

·  WHO lists OCD as one of the 10 most disabling disorders in the world

Who gets OCD?

Anyone may develop OCD, but some indicators are:

·  other conditions that go hand-in-hand with OCD (major depressive disorder, ADHD, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive personality disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, chronic Tic disorder)

·  a family history

·  significant life stress (financial worries, trauma, abuse)

·  a link to neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, glutamate

·  more than usual activity in parts of the brain controlling feelings and actions

HELP! I need somebody

You may be someone who likes to stack the dishes and cutlery a certain way in the dishwasher; you might stubbornly rework an assignment again and again. But there’s a difference between being a neat-freak or perfectionist and someone with OCD: it’s all in the severity of the obsessions and compulsions, and how much it affects your life and upsets you.

People with OCD rarely recover without some form of treatment. If left untreated, OCD may affect your ability to function at school, home, or work and may affect your relationships.

Seek help if you

·  find your obsessive thoughts or compulsive actions are affecting your quality of life

·  find that ignoring the problem makes it worse

·  have insight that you have a problem

·  can’t get to school or work on time

·  find that your relationships and friendships are suffering

·  have health issues resulting from OCD (such as chapped hands or dermatitis from hand-washing)

·  feel excessive shame, guilt, self-blame

·  are considering self-harm or suicide

·  are experiencing a relapse or life crisis

Try this at home

·   stay on your meds (always talk to your doctor before changing or discontinuing medication)

·   join an online support group like OCD Anonymous or a peer support group like YMHC

·   self-monitor and be aware if  you slip into old patterns

·   exercise and eat well

·   try yoga and meditation (but sitting with your thoughts can be hard, so if it’s hard for you, be kind to yourself and talk to someone, see your doctor, or try something else instead)

·   practice good sleep hygiene

·   seek healthy ways to manage stress: try breathing exercises, listen to music, write a song or compose music

Cultural strategy

Many cultures use traditional healers to help with mental health. People from a variety of cultures may seek complementary or alternative therapies to OCD treatments such as Ayurveda, yoga, herbal medicine, acupuncture, astrology, traditional Chinese medicine, or meditation.

If traditional or alternative medicine is important to you, talk to your doctor about it. Find out more about recommended treatments, and how traditional practices can be part of your healing process. Collaboration between different practices may be an inclusive way to address OCD treatment.

See the interview with Count von Count of Sesame Street, who suffers from Vampiric Obsessive-Compulsive disorder.

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