By James Gummer

Many people think that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is just that hand-washing thing, or a need to tidy up your bedroom. It can be. But most of the time, it’s so much more.

OCD is a tricky bastard.

It’s having a meltdown in front of my girlfriend who I haven’t seen for the three months she’s been on tour because the airline lost my suitcase. It’s the need to keep calling the help number over and over again, and the need to drive back to the airport hours later to see if they’ve found it. Not because I am in dire need of anything within it, but just because life feels completely wrong without it.

And then OCD is standing with my girlfriend in a department store, as it takes over an hour to pick out socks and underwear.

It’s being unable to get over a relationship when it’s done. It’s thinking that I’ll never meet anyone else because I’m too old, or too ugly, or too creepy, and replaying these thoughts without being able to stop them. It’s like a having a song that I don’t like stuck in my head while being punched in the nuts. And it’s the fear that when I see my ex with the new boyfriend that I just won’t be able to handle it, even though I have no idea what not “handling it” means.

OCD is not being able to leave the house because I believe the police are after me for causing a major traffic accident, because I may have cut someone off, even though there’s no concrete evidence to support this. And there’s nothing on the evening news about an accident. And there’s nothing on the Internet that I’ve compulsively checked for hours.

OCD ruins things like practicing a musical instrument by turning it into something I have to do, rather than something I enjoy. Because if I don’t do it I’m a lazy loser. And I’ll forget how to play if I take a day off. And I suck anyway so I really should practice. And if I suck at something I’m just not worth anything.

It does the same thing with healthy activities like exercise or meditation, making them compulsions, therefore negating many of the positive stress-reducing effects that they might have.

It’s living in a state of almost constant physical tension because I don’t use my body efficiently. It’s constant muscle pain, grinding teeth, and insomnia.

OCD is a feeling of impending doom and interpreting everyone’s actions as being against me. If someone is in a bad mood, like a boss, a parent, or friend, it must be my fault.

OCD is believing that a romantic interest no longer likes me because a text isn’t replied to as quickly as I hoped or expected.

It’s panic attacks when things don’t go as planned, or thinking that things won’t go as planned, or just doing a bunch of planning or thinking.

There is help. There’s Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Medicines can sometimes be effective. But It’s important to find therapists and psychiatrists that specialize in the treatment of OCD. And it takes time and work.

Santa Claus makes a list and checks it twice? That’s amateur. I’ll check my list till the words fall of the page. I’ll check freakin’ everything.


About James Gummer

James Gummer has no idea what’s going on and is learning to be okay with that. He writes in Baltimore, Maryland where he also teaches drumming, qigong, and meditation. James regularly performs with The Drum Runners, a dynamic percussion trio. Visit him at james-writes.com