An Excellent Example
i've said it before, and i'll say it again: ocd was nearly the death of me. there was a time period in my early teenage years when i seriously thought the only way out of the hell that my mind had become was suicide. thank goodness i got treated.
i don't speak of it often, both because it's stressful to me to be reminded of it, and because non-sufferers tend not to understand. they think ocd is what's portrayed in popular culture: funny little quirks that some people do, like not stepping on cracks in the sidewalk. it's much, much uglier than that.
my friend wikipedia has an excellent analogy to explain what ocd is like to non-sufferers:
In an attempt to further relate the immense distress that those afflicted with this condition must bear, Barlow and Durand (2006) use the following example. They implore readers not to think of pink elephants. Their point lies in the assumption that most people will immediately create an image of a pink elephant in their minds, even though told not to do so. The more one attempts to stop thinking of these colorful animals, the more one will continue to generate these mental images. This phenomenon is termed the "Thought Avoidance Paradox", and it plagues those with OCD on a daily basis, for no matter how hard one tries to get these disturbing images and thoughts out of one's mind, feelings of distress and anxiety inevitably prevail. Although everyone may experience unpleasant thoughts at one time or another, these are usually warranted concerns that are short-lived and fade after an adequate time period has lapsed. However, this is not the case for OCD sufferers.
if anyone is interested, here's a basic description of the most significant way that my ocd manifested* itself.
- Obsessions without Overt Compulsions -
Some people have intrusive, distressing, obsessions without any obvious accompanying compulsions. These obsessions can take the form of verbal thoughts, mental images, impulses to act in a particular way, or sometimes, a combination of some or all of the above. The obsessions are often deeply repugnant to the person experiencing them - very often, they include sexual, religious, or violent content, which the individual doesn't understand and which he or she finds frightening and/or shameful.
Sometimes the individual experiences obsessions which cause the individual to doubt himself or herself in some way. For example, the individual may experience obsessions which cause himself or herself to question the strength of his or her religious faith. The individual may even end up wondering if he or she is evil or insane because of the obsessional thoughts he or she experiences, or a danger to his or her family or friends.
An individual experiencing such obsessions may try to relieve the distress caused by them through the repetition of covert (hidden) compulsions. Such mental rituals may include neutralising behaviours such as saying prayers silently, repeating counting patterns under one's breath, repeating silent phrases which contradict the distressing obsessional thoughts, and so on.
Some people who experience obsessions don't seem to undertake any specific, neutralising compulsions. Instead, they ruminate upon the "meaning" of the obsession. For example, someone who has obsessional thoughts about the meaning of life, or whether there is life after death, may agonise for hours over the question without ever reaching a conclusion that he or she finds satisfactory. It is this compulsive need to ruminate over such questions, without ever reaching a satisfactory conclusion (often resulting in considerable distress for the individual), that differentiates obsessive ruminating from the normal form which everyone undertakes occasionally.
well that's all i really feel like saying about that at this time. i'm glad i shared a bit, even if it wasn't my own words.
*it still manifests itself this way sometimes, although to a much smaller degree that it did before i was treated. thank God i'm finally free from the prison my mind became.