I have been trying to deal with some of my OCD issues lately. My house never seems clean enough. I see dirt and grime in places that others do not seem to notice and it drives me crazy. I would seriously like to wash the inside of my house with a fire hose. I know that is bad for walls and floors but I can picture in my head and when I do I see cleanliness. I have struggled with OCD since childhood. My house is my castle and this castle could use some maids. Like forty of them. It is actually clean, very clean even, but never clean enough for me. I also am sensitive to smells and sounds. Apparently I was a dog in a past life. I can not take stinky. I must root out the stench as fast as possible. I will walk around the house sniffing like a blood hound until I find what is making the offending odor and dispose of it. I must use a certain cat litter because perfume or over flowery smells bother me. I also have a problem with certain textures. Oily, greasy, rough, textures can seem dirty to me. Smooth is always best for my OCD.
I can't say exactly why I am like this, except OCD is about control. Controlling one's emotions, one's fears, one's anxiety, and most of all the things around us. We can not control our environments that are outside so we tend to try to control our homes. If one can not control their homes or environments they have a predispostion to become anorexic or bulimic. If unable to have control anywhere OCD people may control the one thing they have power over, their weight. Anorexia and bulimia is all about control of one self. Control of what you eat, how you expel it, and how you keep to a lower size. It is dangerous, it is painful, and it is all about control.
I have the need to control my anxiety. Everyone with OCD does. I clean not because I like a clean house, which I do, but because it keeps the anxiety at bay. It makes me feel less on edge and more comfortable. The only issue with this is it is never clean enough. Quiet like a person suffering from anorexia or bulimia feels never skinny enough. There is something wrong with the way we perceive our selves and our environments. What we see in the mirror or on the floor is not a true representation. Our minds have shown us a circus mirror. Our perceptions are false.
I was almost anorexic. Almost anorexic you ask? What is almost anorexic? I stopped being able to be the clean freak that I am. I lived in an place that was unable to maintain clean. I also was living in someone else's home. Therefore, my cleaning schedule became interrupted. I had been healthily loosing weight and it turned into much more when circus mirror entered my life. At 5'6" I was dropping weight much to fast and I did it by not eating. I would look in the mirror and see fat. I finally got down to 125 lbs which made my dress size a six. Now for some this may not seem very small but for my frame, my ribs were sticking out. You could see them through my clothing. What used to be a cleaning schedule became an exercise schedule. I was doing three hundred stomach crunches three times a day, walking in the summer heat for three miles a day, riding a bicycle three miles a day, and tybo. I was a machine but not eating with it made me a machine with no fuel. My face started to become gaunt. My hair lost it's shine. I was plummeting down a rabbit hole into hell. Looking in the mirror became agony for me. All saw was layers of fat that did not exist. Weighing myself four or five times a day was torture. If I ate anything and my weight was up a pound I became hysterical. The in laws and ex husband didn't seem to notice. I often wonder how stupid they must have been to not notice that I had completely went nuts with my eating and dropped over thirty pounds in two months. Three bites a meal seemed normal to them? My psychiatrist remarked that I had an eating disorder and I thought he was crazy. Looking back, he was absolutely right and I was teetering on being very ill.
Now, this is where my saving grace happened. I moved into my own place. It was a place where walking three miles a day would have become impossible and the best part was that I was able to start cleaning again. All the stress that had formed from not being able to do my "rituals" was able to be released by doing them again. The almost anorexia stopped. Instead of weighing myself I could put all of that focus on controlling the cleanliness of my environment. I was also still seeing my doctor to monitor the situation just in case
So I believe that I was not totally anorexic in the medical sense, in my case it was the only thing I could control at the time. Once I garnered my regular control back, I stopped. This is not the case for most people who suffer from anorexia and bulimia. Most of these people need proper help and treatment. I can say that because of this incident that I understand what they going through on a very real level. I know the hell they dwell in and the feeling of loss of control on the world around you.
Anorexia and bulimia are forms of OCD. As all sufferers of OCD will tell you, this mental illness is about control. We obsess to control our anxiety, we compulse to control our anxiety, we starve or gag ourselves to control the anxiety, we clean or hoard to control the anxiety, and we pick our skin or pull out our hair just to control the anxiety. Everything related to this illness is how to control our fears, the breathlessness, the false perceptions we place on ourselves, the sadness, and the pain.
Being anorexic or bulimic is no different than being a germ-a-phobe or clean freak except that you can clearly see their symptoms of control. Having trichotillomania or dermatillomania is no different than being a hoarder except that their symptoms to control are made clear on sight. We all do what we do to control our OCD. We all have our own compulsions or obsessions. We all have our own symptoms. Some of us have several of these symptoms rolled into one. The pain is the same. The false perceptions are the same. Whether the circus mirror is showing you fat that doesn't exist, dirt that isn't there, or blemishes that are invisible, we all have the same false perceptions. We ,in short, believe the circus mirror. And how can you not when the circus mirror is in your brain? The circus mirror is in your eyes. The circus mirror is in your flesh. Showing you things that are wrong. Telling you that things are bad. Making you feel that things are dirty.
False perceptions, people, is what OCD is all about. Anxiety is what OCD is all about. Pain and sufferering is what OCD is all about.
There is hope. There are treatment centers and doctors. There are medications and therapies. I would just like for people to see that although our symptoms may be different, that all sufferers of OCD are fundamentally the same, going through the same hell, feeling the same misery, and dealing with the same anxiety. That no matter what we do to control, we all do something to control. OCD is not a pleasure cruise or a fun time. It is a painful perception altering mental illness that hurts. It can maim. It can kill. The more we stop minimizing it's effects the more chance we have to save others from going down the paths we have had to go down.