A common phrase used to describe normal cleaning and organizing behavior and a far reach from the experiences had by those struggling with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). The International OCD Foundation (IOCDF) defines OCD as a “mental health disorder that occurs when a person gets caught in a cycle of obsessions and compulsions. Obsessions are unwanted, intrusive thoughts, images, or urges that trigger intensely distressing feelings. Compulsions are behaviors an individual engages in to attempt to get rid of the obsessions and/or decrease their distress”.
The first obsessions, that I recall, from my childhood were intrusive thoughts of myself, or a loved one, dying. My compulsions included folding my dirty laundry before placing it in my hamper and arranging my pillows, on the floor, each night before bed. I was convinced that if I completed these compulsions, then nothing bad would happen to myself, or the people I cared for. In the moment, the compulsions would decrease my anxiety from the intrusive thoughts. However, over time, the compulsions increased the frequency and intensity of the intrusive thoughts; they got worse….way worse.
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