I Wish My Head Had Hinges

on May 4, 2007

I’ve decided to blog about something that in the last 18 years I have come to learn quite a bit about – mostly because it’s been a part of my life. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). It’s actually been part of my life since my teens – maybe earlier – although it became very pronounced in my teens.

First of all – the terms “obsession” and “compulsion” are used to explain similar thing in society, but there is a huge difference between someone who has OCD and someone who has obsessive and compulsive behaviors such as drinking, gambling, eating, etc. OCD is also not the same as addictions. In an addiction the compulsion is acting out the obsession. In OCD the compulsion is to counteract the obsession. There is no pleasure in OCD. The term “OCD” has been used recently to explain someone with perfectionistic type behaviors. This also is not necessarily OCD.

This is what OCD really is (Okay – so this reads like an essay – but seriously – most people really don’t know what OCD really is and somehow it feels good for me to define it.)

“People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) suffer intensely from recurrent, unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or rituals (compulsions), which they feel they cannot control. Rituals such as handwashing, counting, checking, or cleaning are often performed with the hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these rituals, however, provides only temporary relief, and not performing them markedly increases anxiety. Left untreated, obsessions and the need to perform rituals can take over a person’s life.” (National Institute of Mental Health)

Obsessions: Recurrent and persistent ideas, thoughts, impulses, or images that are experienced as intrusive and senseless. (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) The most common obsessions are cleanliness, need for symmetry and order, violent thoughts, and sexual thoughts.

Compulsions: Repetitive, purposeful, and intentional behaviors that are performed in response to an obsession. The behavior is designed to neutralize or to prevent discomfort or some dreaded event or situation (Diagnostic & Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders)
Most common compulsions are excessive washing and checking. Compulsions can also be mental such as repeating certain words, phrases, or prayers. Sometimes things simply just get “stuck in your head” like a word, phrase, or song. It’s somehow feels “wrong” to not repeat them over and over.

Oh – and if you have OCD and are super-lucky you could have “scrupulosity” – umm – like me.

Scrupulosity: When obsessions and compulsions take hold in religious and moral themes. For example the obsessions could be blasphemous intrusive thoughts and the compulsions could be excessive praying to counteract the idea.

I love this poem by Shel Silverstein that explains how I feel about OCD

If we had hinges on our heads
There wouldn’t be no sin,
‘Cause we could take the bad stuff out
And leave the good stuff in.
_ Shel Silverstein

The last few days, how I wish my head had a hinge. OCD is tiring, not to mention boring. I battle OCD in some form every single day. A combination of medication and learning and practicing cognitive/behavior techniques keeps it manageable so that my life isn’t a living hell. But there are times that it hits in a wave and knocks me down. Unfortunately a wave hit 2 days ago. My mind won’t stop and I can’t be reassured about anything – including that I’m totally okay as a person. The mental rituals rule and the only escape is to distract myself. Sometimes I want to say “Heavenly Father – today could I just have a hinge on my head today?”

3 responses to “I Wish My Head Had Hinges

  1. Excellent site, keep up the good work

  2. iammental says:

    I just got this poem tattooed on my calf. It represents where I am all the time: Inside my head.

  3. schoolstudentneedinganswers says:

    what type of poem is this?

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