For the majority of my life, I struggled with odd sensations and compulsions, but only three years ago, did I really acknowledge that I had OCD. Sure, it ran in the family, and what I was experiencing couldn’t have been normal. And yes, I also suffered from more common symptoms, like feeling the need to have things feel even. But my primary obsessions, which I still struggle with today to a reduced extent, were unlike anything I had ever heard or read about in the mental illness community. I suffer from a unique manifestation of OCD called sensorimotor, or hyper-awareness OCD, which involves awareness of bodily processes. I will not go into great detail, but essentially, I have fears attached to the feelings and frequency of my swallowing, blinking, etc.
Most people can’t tell that I have OCD, because I come across as confident and at ease for the most part. Therefore, they wouldn’t imagine that this was the type of issue I deal with on a constant basis. So why did I bring my disability up, to receive pity? Not primarily, because I have already found strategies for dealing with it which have helped. Rather, my reason for writing this post is to encourage patience and empathy, as at first glance you never know what an individual may be going through. Even within the mental illness community, we often associate certain afflictions with behavioral expectations, and base our analysis of its severity off of those interpretations. Instead, we should use a more constructive approach to recognize every case individually in working toward recovery.
Despite the pain OCD has caused in my life, it has been beneficial in at least one way: it put a chip on my shoulder. I have been blessed in most areas of life, and if it weren’t for my mental illness, it would be easy to become complacent. Because of it, however, I have learned not to take the good things in my life for granted. Moreover, it has motivated me to work harder to compensate for my disability. As I make efforts to eliminate OCD, I will become more grateful and hardworking than I would have been, giving me a greater capacity to get more out of life.