Is it me, or is obsessive compulsive disorder having a bit of a moment? It could be me. I struggled with symptoms for 15 years without saying a word to anyone, not knowing it had a name. I’d heard of OCD, but just the pop culture version – obsessive hand-washing, obsessive cleanliness, and I didn’t have either of those problems. I finally realized that unbreakable routines, magical thinking, intrusive thoughts, motor tics, needing to do things an unusual number of times until they feel “right” were, in fact, obsessive compulsive disorder. I was relieved but I still never said a word to anyone for another five years. Not even my husband. Not even my best friend. Not even my mom. In my head there were socially acceptable psychiatric disorders (depression, anxiety, mild bi polar disorder) and then there were ones where no one would want to know you (schizophrenia, agoraphobia, obsessive compulsive disorder).
In the last year, I’ve gradually let people know that this is a thing. I found ways to control it (medication, identifying triggers). Now, my immediate loved ones know, and I’ve mentioned it places like here now and then and it’s not so bad. Now, it seems like it’s everywhere. Mara Wilson talks about it in Where Am I Now. I’ve accidentally discovered that a few casual friends have it. Neil Hilborn’s reading of his poem “OCD” went viral, and it refers to actual OCD symptoms.
His book of poetry is short but lovely, and I am not a poetry person at all. It’s only occasionally about OCD, often about mental illness, sometimes funny, usually beautiful. I’d strongly recommend giving his reading of “OCD” a listen, and if you like it, check out the book – “OCD” is probably the best thing in it but the rest is well worth the hour or so it takes to read.