(Disclaimer: I have been diagnosed by an M.D. I am not a doctor, and I will probably get some of this wrong! Feel free to tell me what I missed!)
I apologize for the relative radio silence the past few days. I suffered from an acute spike in my OCD.
OCD is an often misunderstood and misrepresented mental illness. It is debilitating at times, and I have only a moderate case of it. Some people are literally boxed in by there disease stuck in their homes for fear of triggering their OCD.
OCD is in its simplest form is a runaway feedback loop.
The same way any other organ doesn’t stop working when we are not conciously aware of it, the brain doesn’t stop either.
In the neuro-typical (average functional) brain, there is a gatekeeper of sorts that screens this constant pool of thoughts. This gatekeeper tends to only allow thoughts that disagree with the core personality of the individual to pass into consciousness.
In someone with OCD this is the first stumbling block. That gaurds man is quite drowsy and lets a number of perfectly common but disturbing thoughts into consciousness.
Now this sometimes happens in most humans. The urge to jump off a high ledge will send a shudder down someone’s spine, or the idea that maybe we are dying of HIV might send someone into an hour or two of worry.
In OCD however, the this is the second downfall. In OCD the horrifying thought is picked up by and over sensitive brain and amplified. It is used as proof that by simply having this thought is an indication to action. Despite OCD thoughts nearly always being completely opposite of the true character of the individual, and against their wishes.
This causes considerable emotional distress, and to combat that OCD people preform compulsions, or behaviors to aliviate this stress.
The nature of these compulsions depends on the individual, and they are generally disruptive such as hand washing ect, and they are not always consistent. In movies an OCD person has to have every part of their room organized, in real life their room might be a mess, but the OCD Suffer’s hands might be bleeding from being washed too many times.
By participating in these compulsions, the brain incorrectly interprets the anxiety as valid. By running away from the boogy man he becomes real, even if he’s nothing more than a bundle of sticks in the wind.
And so it goes on and on and on, until the OCD sufferer if he or she is lucky learns about Therapies that work. The most effective being ERP or Exposure response prevention.
The therapy is deceptively simple yet exceptionally difficult. It involves avoiding the alleviation of anxiety. The OCD sufferer exposes themselves to things that trigger anxiety and chooses conciously to avoid making themselves feel better. Eventually, the brain learns that since no feedback is given to relive it that the fear they are feeling is disproportionate to the situation, and so the anxiety decrease. Thus Severing the Feedback loop!
Mind you this is not a cure, and it is difficult to do without the aid of Medication, and there are still sometimes the OCD sufferer will fail at this task.
I write this post t simply explain why I haven’t posted and more importantly to tell you all that struggling with a mental illness is perfectly normal, and I understand.
These are strange times, so take care of yourself, and if you do struggle try and get some help.
Hope you all stay well. Be back soon.