What does it really feel like to have OCD?

question markI’ll be taking a break from blogging for a couple of weeks to spend some quality time with family and friends. I’d like to wish all of my readers a happy and healthy holiday season and wish you all the best in 2014.

During my break, I will repost some of my older, more popular entries. Below is a post I wrote back in September, 2011:

Support groups are often helpful for people. Whether you are dealing with a disease or disorder, or have experienced tragedy or trauma, there is nothing quite like connecting with others who are, or have been, in a similar situation. Why is this? I think one of the main reasons is because those in your support group simply know how it feels. While family, friends, and health professionals can support you and even possibly understand what you are going through, they will never truly know what it feels like.

When Dan was dealing with severe OCD, I wanted to know what it felt like. I knew he had constant agonizing intrusive thoughts, but how did he actually feel? If I could feel what he was feeling, then maybe I could somehow take away some of his pain. That doesn’t make much sense to me now, but for some reason it did back then. It wasn’t something we talked about a lot, as Dan had more pressing things to deal with than trying to describe his OCD to his mother.

Over the past few years, I have come across some OCD sufferer’s descriptions of what their anxiety from OCD feels like. The ones I remember are, not surprisingly, the ones I can personally relate to:

* You have that feeling you get when someone scratches their fingers down a blackboard.

* You have that feeling you get after swerving to avoid a potentially fatal car accident.

* You have that feeling you get when you take your eyes off of your child in a store for one minute, and then he/she is gone.

With the above examples, your physical and mental distress dissipates once the blackboard scratching stops, you avoid the accident, or you’ve located your child. But try to imagine having those feelings of intense anxiety repeatedly, perhaps hundreds of times a day. That is what some sufferers say life with severe OCD feels like.

I can imagine what it is like to have OCD all I want, but like I said before I will never really know how it feels. And instead of wishing I knew how Dan felt, I now wish that he, and all OCD sufferers, never had to feel that way to begin with.

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18 Responses to What does it really feel like to have OCD?

  1. Those are good descriptions of what it feels like. It’s hard to fully describe what it’s like. It’s a sick feeling of fear and anxiety that makes moving forward seem like an impossibility.

    I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday season!!

  2. 71 & Sunny says:

    Oh it’s true. When anxiety comes, I get this really horrible sick feeling and it feels like there is lead in my stomach, accompanied by a feeling of “oh no, here we go AGAIN!!!!” At that point, I would give anything, anything to run away from it. But of course, it follows you. : (

  3. Great post! And best wishes to you , hope 2014 is a good year.

  4. Deb Koch says:

    Matthew told me that when his OCD was bad, he walked around school feeling like he was about to fall off a cliff. He said it was that same feeling you get in your stomach.

  5. Ava says:

    Thank you Janet. Your posts that I receive via email really are helping me to try and understand my son’s OCD. Wishing you and your family a very happy, healthy 2014! xx from Australia

  6. This was one of the first posts I read on your blog after I started my own! 🙂 Merry Christmas!

  7. emelie4 says:

    I think the feeling that you get when someone scratches their fingers down a blackboard definitely captures the intense anxiety OCD causes. Also, what you said about having a support group who knows the anxiety you experience firsthand definitely applies! It’s easy to get stuck in believing your OCD when you don’t know anyone who is experiencing the same thing. Thanks for this post! I also wanted to share my blog that I just started: http://overcomingmyocd.wordpress.com/

  8. Reehaz says:

    I think u are absolutely right i have been dealing with OCD around 10-12 yrs, all though i am a Doctor myself started in medical college, i feel i lost my best years hiding it from colleagues,the awareness that is there today was not available earlier,i feel better today but the demons cum up now and the.U are doing a great job.keep it up

    • Thank you for your kind words, Reehaz, and I’m glad you are doing better now. I agree we have come a long way in OCD awareness, but we still have so far to go. Wishing you all the best!

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