According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “[p]eople with obsessive compulsive disorder may have symptoms of obsessions, compulsions, or both,” which “can interfere with all aspects of life, such as work, school, and personal relationships.” Obsessions often involve fear of contamination, disturbing violent or sexual thoughts, or a fixation on keeping things orderly; compulsions can include cleaning or arranging rituals, repeatedly checking things, and counting. Most importantly, these obsessions and compulsions are a source of stress and pain. If you’re naturally neat and take pleasure in housecleaning, your dishwashing ritual probably isn’t OCD.
In some respects, learning that I have OCD was a relief.
The persistent voice that fills my head with doubts about my worth as a person, fears that I’m going to bring harm to myself and others, and—at its most aggressive—horrific images of violence and destruction? That’s not me, it’s my OCD.