Why people need to stop saying “I’m so OCD”

You are not “so OCD”

Have you taken one of those “OCD quizzes” you see on Facebook?  Have you said “Oh I like my clothes sorted by color, I’m so OCD” or “I like things really organized. I’m so OCD” Guess what?  You aren’t.  You can’t be OCD.  You can’t be Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  Just like you can’t be the flu.  You can’t be an illness.

What is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD is a chronic, or long-term, illness that can take over your life, hurt your relationships, and limit your ability to work or go to school. It’s not quirky, fun or something a person can “just stop”

Brain of OCD
The brain of a person with OCD must process WAY more information than the average person

It is not just wanting to have things clean, neat, and orderly or being super-organized. No one is “so OCD about…” It’s not an adjective and it needs to stop being used as one.

Things we see all over the internet tend to minimize the real struggle of those with OCD.  It is a real, significant mental illness.  People need to understand the difference between being a neat freak, or really organized or even anal.  It matters.  When you say “I’m so OCD” you are diminishing the meaning of the sentence “I have OCD.”

A day in the life

My daughter wants to go for a bike ride.  She goes to put on her shoes but first has to spit on her finger and rub it on the bottom of her sock so they are clean and she can put her shoes on.  Then she has to clean the bottom of her shoes before she can step from the carpet to the tile, and again before she can step outside.  She has to repeat this ritual with her jacket and helmet.  All she wants to do is go for a bike ride because she finds it relaxing, but she has to jump through OCD’s hoops first.   She’s started to just wear her jacket and helmet all days so she doesn’t have to do the ritual.

Last night we just spent a good 30 minutes with a crying, screaming child trying to get her to use a towel after her shower. The OCD has her convinced that the towel is dirty and will get germs on her so something bad will happen.  She kept saying she was cold and tired and just wanted to go to bed but we couldn’t let her.  It’s heartbreaking, but we have to make her face the challenge or else OCD wins again.  We have to fight him or he just gets worse and worse.

OCD is a bully

If she wants to relax and watch TV, she squats because there is nowhere clean to sit.  She wants to eat lunch with her friends but struggles because there are napkins there and OCD has convinced her napkins, even clean ones, are bad.  She has trouble with people touching her or being touched.  I once went over 4 months without being able to touch my child.

OCD is always telling her things are dirty and she has to clean them or germs will get on her and something bad will happen.  The problem is OCD is a big, fat, liar.  The things OCD is making her clean are actually giving her more germs.  She understands that logically but the OCD bullies her into believing him

It’s a battle

Just after being diagnosed at age 5. Can you imagine trying to go through all the normal problems of adjusting to school and growing up? Now add OCD on top of it.

She is 8 and we’ve already been on this road for 3 years.  It’s a never ending, daily, hell hourly, battle.  OCD doesn’t go away; there is no cure.  Medicine and therapy help (you can learn more about some of the therapy we’ve done here) but it’s a fight to the death.

So the next time you think you are “so OCD” because you are a neat freak or super organized, think again.  OCD isn’t about cleanliness or order, it’s about doubt and fear. It’s dark and scary and real.

Have you said “I’m so OCD”?  What’s a different word you can use?


It’s All About the Attitude


Happy Friday!!!  It’s supposed to be a beautiful day here and I’m looking forward to enjoying it.  Today is Guest Reader day at G’s school as part of March is Reading Month.  I’ll be taking off the mom hat and putting on the Black Belt hat and reading to the 3rd and 4th grades today.  I’ll also demonstrated some karate

reading black belt
Me reading to the 3rd grade classes

by breaking two 1” thick bricks (yes I can do that! Amazing, right?!)  It’s crazy that I’m more nervous about reading and talking to the kids than I am about breaking the bricks!  Talking in front of large groups (even 8-10 year olds) gives me a lot of anxiety!  But I can’t expect G to fight her OCD monster if I don’t fight mine!

Crazy morning

We had a somewhat crazy morning here.  First L, got up late so she was rushing a bit.  G loves to go out and ride her bike or swing before school.  Doesn’t matter if it’s 7:30 in the morning and still cold.  This girl loves to be outside and active.  Her teacher and I have also come to realize that on the days she doesn’t do this, she has a much harder day at school.  Anyway, apparently her bike helmet was contaminated because she left it on her bike last night instead of bringing it inside.  Makes total sense right?  So she tries to put water on it but Daddy catches her and doesn’t allow it.  So what does my creative little girl do?  Takes the helmet to the back yard where there is a sled that is filled with rain and melted snow and dunks the helmet!  I mean, that water is so clean, right?  Anyway, we see this and make her do an exposure right away like we learned at Mayo Clinic (to read more about our time there check out Mayo Clinic Saved My Family)

After dealing with this I was getting a late start to my workout and then to make it even better the Beachbody on Demand site I use wouldn’t load (maintenance or something I guess).  In the past I would have just said “screw it” and gone about my day.  But I know how much I need that workout to clear my head and set me up for a good day.  Thankfully I’m doing Hammer and Chisel right now and there are sheets listing all the moves to track your weights.  So I pulled that out and just did the moves on my own.  The site started working about ½ way through so I fast forwarded it to where I was and finished out my workout.

Then I grab G’s lunch out of the fridge to put in her lunch box only to realize it’s L’s lunch!  When I packed L’s lunch I must have grabbed the wrong container.  So after dropping G at school, I drive up to L’s school to switch the lunches. Thankfully I work at G’s school doing lunch and recess duty so I can just take her lunch with me then.

The moral of the story

Anyway, moral to this long winded story is don’t let the problems define your attitude!  In the past this would have made me stressed out and grumpy and just ruined my whole day.  Today I made a choice not to let it bother me.  I solved all the problems, all is well and I moved on!  I decided not to let my attitude be the problem!

How do you shake off a bad morning?

It’s all about the attitude!

P.S. In case you are wondering if I broke the bricks

(If you listen you can hear my daughter defending me when it didn’t break)

Mayo Clinic Saved My Family

The Backstory

My daughter (now 8, oops! 8-1/2 that 1/2 is important!) was diagnosed with OCD at age 5.  Looking back now we started noticing signs as early as 3 years old but we just put them off to being a toddler or just a little eccentric.  Just as she was starting kindergarten we realized there was something wrong and we needed help.  We found doctors (took some trial and error to find the right ones for her) and we started therapy and then added medication. We continued on this road trying different medications, increasing doses, changing doctors and therapists, for 3 years.  We’d have some small improvements here and there, but mostly it went downhill.

In August 2016, our therapy team at the University of Michigan decided she needed a more intensive program and recommended some of the ones I’d heard of (Rogers, McClean, etc.) My daughter wasn’t even 8 and we just couldn’t see going to a program, moving away from home, for weeks or months. Thankfully, someone in my support group told me about Mayo Clinic. They have a 5 day intensive outpatient program which sounded perfect for our needs, at least as a starting point. I called Mayo and started the application process. Within hours of receiving the information they required from our doctors, I received a call from Mayo Clinic to schedule our week.

The process was very easy and smooth and we didn’t have to wait long at all to get in. We were very lucky that our insurance covered it (and our insurance isn’t great) but I think they billed the insurance around $4,000 which was well worth it if we would have had to pay. Obviously this didn’t include travel, hotel and food.

The Program

Our week there was brutal but so rewarding. It was honestly one of the hardest and best experiences of my life. We drove (just the 2 of us) from Michigan to Minnesota. Our relationship, which had been very strained, improved so much during this trip; it was a very bonding time for us.  The first morning we met with one of the therapist in a “getting to know you” type of appointment. That afternoon we started group sessions. There were 3 other families there and the kids ranged from my daughter at 8 years old to a 19 year old. The families were wonderful and we all bonded very quickly.

Every day we had 2 group sessions. Basically you would plan an exposure, do the exposure and talk about how it went and then plan to do one on your own outside of group. At the next session you would discuss how the one on your own went, plan and do another and then plan another on your own. So we were doing 4 planned exposures every day. It was great to learn better techniques for her to cope and how to help her. They also helped us with a behavior/consequence plan for at home and school; essentially earning things for hard work. They assume that you are there because you don’t have access to a good therapist so they are teaching you to fight the OCD/Anxiety without one.

The Take Away

Pinky the Elephant in DeForest, WI

We left Mayo Clinic feeling so much stronger and ready to fight. I swear I couldn’t believe the amount of change in my daughter in just a week.  It was like I brought a different child home.  Even on the drive, things happened that on the way there would have caused a melt down and now it was barely a hiccup.    She even took time to be goofy with this giant pink elephant statue located at a random gas station in DeForest, WI.

I myself even learned so much on this trip.  I was worried about how I would deal with it alone, along with my own anxiety and depression.  I learned that I’m even stronger than I thought.  I learned how to deal with everything, both her issues and mine, so much better.  Best of all, I got my little girl back and our home life is so much better now.  She has set backs and by no means is the OCD gone or always controlled but now we have the tools and knowledge to fight back.

I can’t recommend Mayo Clinic enough. If OCD or anxiety are ruling your lives, please look into it. I’m happy to answer any questions I can.

For more information, please go to their website here.