OCD is Messy

I follow a number of blogs written by OCD sufferers, and the more I read, the more I realize how complicated, confusing, and unpredictable OCD can be.

I know a fair amount about the disorder. My son has OCD and I know firsthand how it can affect the entire family. I’ve seen how OCD can devastate lives. I’ve written posts on everything from symptoms and treatment to enabling and recovery avoidance. But I don’t have OCD, and while I can pick one aspect of the disorder to focus on, discuss, and wrap up neatly with a bow, I never truly convey the scope of this illness. My posts are neat, and OCD is messy. Writing about obsessive compulsive disorder is so much easier than having it.

Many people with OCD also suffer from depression, GAD (generalized anxiety disorder), and panic disorder, to name a few common comorbid conditions. Of course, each of these illnesses has their own definition and list of symptoms. It is important and necessary for diagnosis and proper treatment. But again, reading and writing about them conveys a sense of neatness and order. Patient number one has OCD, GAD and depression. Patient number two has OCD, panic disorder, and social phobia. Symptoms and the illnesses are categorized and seen as separate entities, as opposed to interrelated. It is easy to forget that we are talking about a whole person’s state of being, not just a bunch of different disorders. No doubt people have manifested symptoms of these various mental illnesses long before the disorders were differentiated by names.

When my son Dan suffered from severe OCD, he was also diagnosed with depression. Makes sense, right? Who wouldn’t be depressed in that situation? Once his OCD was under control, his depression lifted; two separately diagnosed illnesses that were intricately entwined. While this may be a simplified example, I believe it is worth thinking about.  We, sufferers and non-sufferers alike, need to remind ourselves that OCD, GAD, depression, etc. are just words used to explain how we are feeling and how our minds and bodies react to these feelings. They are a way of trying to maintain some order and clarity over the messiness of mental illness. But let’s remember that while these labels and acronyms serve their purpose, our main goal should be striving to understand what is going on with the whole person.

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14 Responses to OCD is Messy

  1. 71 & Sunny says:

    Excellent post. In addition to OCD, GAD, and recurrent depression, I also struggle with Compulsive Skin Picking (CSP). I believe CSP is not even listed in the current DSM-IV and yet, I can tell you it is real! These are simply labels that are utilized to bring some clarity to diagnosis and treatment. It is important for doctors and patients alike to remember that we are more than just the sum of our disorders. Thanks for reminding us of that.

  2. Tina says:

    Great post! OCD is quite messy. I think with my blog, I make it sound kind of neat and orderly too, but what I write is really a pulling together of my thoughts after the OCD episode or about the OCD episode. I’ve had time to put the stamp of “organized” and “under control” on it.

    I have separate diagnoses for depression and GAD, and I saw panic disorder on the last report my doctor wrote. I think all the anxiety is very inter-related.

    Not sure about the depression. Probably the serotonin that affects the OCD also affects the depression. But the two illnesses aren’t always even. One will be worse, then the other. For many years, depression was what I struggled with the most, and it’s still a struggle. I think I would have the depression even if the OCD symptoms were totally under control.

    I do look forward to getting the OCD under better control and see how the depression reacts.

    Thanks for your writing!

    • ocdtalk says:

      Thanks for your comment, especially regarding depression. It was a simple correlation for my son, but again, I know it’s not always that “neat.” I hope you are able to get both the OCD and depression under control in the near future.

  3. Thank you. Will use as the main link in my Shrinks Think post coming later today.

    Mostly I use Shrinks Think to post stuff Shrinks talk about. One purpose of the posts, howerer are to education consumers and hopefully to educate shrinks about consumers think. Shrinks don’t listen enough to consumer.

  4. ocdtalk says:

    Thanks! I will definitely check out “Shrinks Think!”

  5. margaretlucy says:

    Excellent post. For so long, every time I “acquired” a new diagnosis, first Major depressive disorder, then generalized anxiety disorder, then PTSD, I felt weighed down by these labels and felt each diagnosis was a stigma.

    It wasn’t until months of therapy later, and my cousin J telling me that “labels are for products, not people” that I came to realize that all of the diagnoses were essentially a doctor’s way to trying to identify what was wrong with me. And no matter what the problem, the bottom line was I was sick, and I needed to get better.

  6. raffles71 says:

    Ive just written my first post regarding my sons ocd, it was then that I came across your blog and im steadily working my way through it.
    It seems they both suffered from the same type of ocd ie the intrusive horrible thoughts.Its good to hear that you found some help as it is a really horrible thing to see your child in such a state.
    I think there needs to be more specialists in the Uk too.

  7. ocdtalk says:

    Thanks for commenting! I agree there needs to be more specialists everywhere as with the right therapy, treatment can be very successful.

  8. ocd3timesocd3timesocd3times says:

    One of the keys to lifting my depression was understanding how many other people also have this disorder. It’s not that I want others to suffer like me, but having the additional company has shown me that I am not crazy.

    When I was a child, my parents could not figure out what I touched every object in my house 3 times. When they asked me, I could not give them an answer because I didn’t know. I thought I was crazy, but besides for the obsessive thoughts and compulsive touching, I felt fine. I wish your son all the luck in a healthy future. I still struggle with the disorder, but my depression is mostly gone.

  9. ocdtalk says:

    Thank you so much for your kind words, and I am happy to report my son is doing well now.
    I think it is so important for us to share with each other, to know that OCD sufferers and their families are not alone, and certainly are not crazy (my son is the “sanest” person I know!)

  10. Undoubtedly excellent post. Thanks for sharing am important Information. This is very beneficial for me………..

  11. ocdtalk says:

    I’m glad you found it helpful!

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