It all began at a training session at work.
During an ice-breaker session, we sat around in a circle and spoke about the areas we needed to concentrate on.
I spoke into my hand because I’m always fidgeting and I lose concentration if my hands are not doing something.
After the session, I was sitting next to a psychologist during lunch and she began asking me if I had ever spoken to someone about my fidgety behavior.
I still don’t know if telling an entire room of health care professionals and psychologists was the right thing to do but I told her it was just something I had always done and it never bothered me. She went on to say that fidgety behavior like mine was common with anxiety.
Of course, I dismissed it. I didn’t have anxiety – never in my life. Exam stress and failure was never a problem for me and I never had social problems so for me, anxiety just seemed impossible.
But her words resonated with me.
So I went on to do my own research. I looked into symptoms of anxiety and did some online quizzes. I suddenly became obsessed with trying to find out of it was true – did I have undiagnosed anxiety?
All of the online research and posts from psychologists and therapists that I went through showed that I seemed to fall under the category of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, more commonly referred to as OCD.
OCD is made up of two parts – obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwelcome thoughts and worries that repeatedly appear in the mind and can cause people to feel anxious. Compulsions are repetitive activities that are done to reduce the anxiety that comes about from the obsessions.
My mind, of course, went to the myths of OCD in which people are ‘over tidy’ or ‘wash their hands more’ and are ‘germaphobes’ but it is usually more complicated than that. I, however, applied these myths to my own life to see if it were true.
I was a perfectionist in every moment and freaking out when things were not in place or in order. I always make sure every text message and email I send is grammatically perfect and re-read them numerous times.
My dad and two brothers have gross, male habits that make me freak out and I use antibacterial wipes and odor eliminators on sofas and remotes or pretty much anything they touched.
I become angsty when jackets, bags, and shoes are not where they should be and have moments where I misplace something and tear the house apart or panic when I can’t find it even when it was in the most obvious place.
But it was the idea of thoughts that really got to me. People with OCD usually have obsessive, unwelcome thoughts that make people feel anxious or uncomfortable. These could be a fear of causing harm or failing to prevent harm or violent thoughts against ones faith, relationship and sexually intrusive thoughts and images. People with OCD are very unlikely to actually act on these thoughts (some of which can be scandalous and taboo) and they are not a reflection of someone’s personality.
Online self-diagnosis would instantly say yes, I do have a form of OCD, but I never believed it because while everything else in my life was in order and organized and clean, my bedroom was the definition of a dumping ground.
But apparently, this is normal too. Many people who suffer from OCD, whether severe or mild, have a corner of their life that is messy and it could be because while everything else in their life is “perfect”, it leads to procrastination in cleaning.
A messy bedroom is normal for a lot of people – it doesn’t mean they have OCD and of course, it doesn’t mean I have it either but every online OCD quiz, blog post and article about OCD always feature a disclaimer at the end;
If you feel you are suffering from OCD or any other mental health issues, please speak to a mental health professional as soon as possible.
So, yes, I should go to a doctor and tell them what’s up, but I’m scared. And it’s not the stigma of having mental health issues in the South Asian community as many family members have suffered from bouts of depression, post-partum depression, bipolar disorder and more. Truth is, I don’t even know why.
Is it because I work in the mental health field myself and I feel like I will be laughed at and criticized for not being able to do my job properly. How could someone who has mental health problems themselves help others? Again, probably another ridiculous excuse but it’s just the way I feel.
There is not one thing I can pin-point about the reasoning why I won’t get a proper diagnosis but it definitely is not doing me any favors in delaying it. If I don’t have OCD, then I’m just a happy weirdo and that’s perfectly fine. But if I do have OCD, I’ll get support from professionals who will ensure I can go about living my life normally.
Finding out the truth and facing the fears is all right in front of me – I just need the courage to confront it.