3/20/2017 4:10:00 AM Ashlyn Martin: A life with OCD
About Ashlyn Martin
Ashlyn Martin is our Spring 2017 Hauser intern for HSJ Online. She is a junior at Hauser Junior-Senior High School. She is an avid reader and writer who also loves playing the piano. She writes all the time, unless she is busy painting or reading. She has completed one book, which she is in the process of self-publishing. Her main goal, her dream aspiration, is to become an Art Therapist at a children's hospital, because she loves working with kids.
By Ashlyn Martin
In my last article, I mentioned that I was diagnosed with three different types of disorders that were the roots of all my troubles: OCD, panic attack disorder, and generalized anxiety.
For the next three installments I will discuss them, and what it's like to live with them. This month we'll explore OCD.
OCD is the abbreviation for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder. It means the brain obsesses over something until it drives you to compulsive actions.
Most people have an unrealistic view of OCD. I cannot tell you how many times I have seen people post images on social media talking about how they must have everything clean, or in a specific order, so they have to be OCD. How many times I have heard people jokingly tell each other "how OCD they are."
You can hop on the internet and find a quiz to tell you if you "are OCD." It is frustrating to see for someone who actually has OCD.
It's easy for people to assume that an obsession with cleanliness is OCD - since they can't stand a mess (their obsession), they must always keep it organized (their compulsion). However, this isn't true. Some people need organization. It doesn't mean they have a disorder. OCD runs deeper than that.
It's more along the lines of performing a certain action because you cannot stand to not do so. It's like having to be the first person to turn on a light in a room, or having to always have the same seat at the dinner table, or having to tap your fingers on your desk three times before you answer a question. It's odd quirks such as that that upset normal behavior.
OCD can still be more confusing than that. I want you to know about my kind of OCD. People don't make the realization that there are two types - one that involves more action, and one that involves more feelings. Mine happens to be the latter. Long story short, my brain obsesses over certain thoughts, and my compulsion is panic.
It can be anything. Maybe one day I feel a pain in my leg, and an hour later, I'm convinced that I have cancer and that I need to go to the doctor and get it checked out and that it's something that will inevitably kill me. My brain takes that thought and spins it over and over in my brain until it's all I can think about. I have to sit in bed feeling immobilized by fear from that obsession. Some days it is my heart, and I ask myself questions such as, "What if my heart just stops?" I spend the next two months convinced that I am on the verge of dying, unable to do anything, until I get so scared that I can barely get out of bed. It's scary, no matter how unrealistic those thoughts are. That is OCD invading my life.
It is the most frightening feeling I have ever felt. But I keep on going, because I tell myself that better days are coming.