• Emily Stetzer / 2 comments

What is it really like to have OCD?

If we had a dollar for every time we heard someone use the phrase "I'm so OCD," we'd be super rich. And bitter.

But, after taking time to really think about it — how can we blame them? No one really knows what it's like unless they have it themselves. And even if you google, "What is obsessive compulsive disorder," it spits back:  

Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is a disorder in which people have recurring, unwanted thoughts, ideas or sensations (obsessions). To get rid of the thoughts, they feel driven to do something repetitively (compulsions). 

But that definition doesn't give anyone a clear idea of what it is actually like to live with OCD. And, frankly, the thoughts & compulsions that some of us have are quite embarrassing, so it makes sense why there aren't many detailed personal accounts on the internet. 

So — for the sake of helping others understand why OCD shouldn't be used as an adjective — we will take one for the team:

What is it really like to have OCD?

It’s…. accidentally grazing your hand against your roommates toothbrush as you went to wash your hands. and fighting off the urge to confess because you’re afraid if you don’t tell her and she gets sick from doody germs, you’ll feel eternally responsible.

It’s… noticing a car got really close to you as you were waiting to cross the street, so the image of you getting hit by a car appears in your head, and now you are unsure if you were actually hit by a car and maybe you’re dead and nothing is real.

It’s… working at a day camp with a knot in your stomach because you can’t stop worrying if you think that kid is adorable in a normal way or in a pedophile kind of way.

It’s… confessing to a thought you had of the opposite sex to your significant other because you feel guilty for thinking it. Which then leads you to think about something else you thought of a week ago, so you confess to that. And suddenly you’re confessing to every thought you’ve ever had because if you tell one and not all, you’re “basically cheating.”

It’s… being known as the “goodie two-shoes” in your group of friends because you felt physically sick hiding anything from your parents.

It’s… thinking someone (not of the gender you’re normally attracted to) is attractive and suddenly you’re afraid you are lying to yourself and secretly want to be someone you’re not. So you spend at least 2 hours a day trying to check your own feelings every time you see someone of that gender.

It’s… having a split second image of jumping in front of a train and now you can’t leave the house because you fear you might be suicidal.

It’s… having a friend not respond immediately to a text so you replay the last conversation that you had with them over and over again for fear that you might have missed something that would indicate they don't really want to be your friend anymore.

It’s… spending the next morning checking your memory after a night of drinking with coworkers, to make sure you didn’t do anything you might regret. But then you realize, "if I blacked out, I would have no idea what I did." So, now you can't trust your memory and resort to asking your coworkers (who you're not yet on that level with) awkward questions at the most awkward times because you'd rather embarrass yourself than have to spend another second with this gnarly combination of uncertainty and guilt.

It’s… cooking dinner and having to wash your hands every time you throw something in the garbage because you might have touched something that could contaminate the food you’re about to feed to other people.

It’s… having an inappropriate dream involving a family member and you can’t focus on anything for a week because you’re too busy feeling like a disgusting human because the dream “must have meant something.”

It’s… walking to work like it’s a normal day except the entire commute you’re trying to decide whether you can feed your coworkers a box of munchkins that might have been contaminated after standing too close to someone who coughed in your direction.

It's... definitely not an adjective. 

Presently yours,

Emily & Lindsay



Oh my goodness! I see myself in this post so much! The fear of accidentally getting someone sick or lying and not being a good person is something I go through a lot. Overly confessing my thoughts and actions to feel better and washing my hands excessively to prevent getting sick or getting others sick are common compulsions of mine. Thank you for sharing this post!


This could not be more accurate.

I’d also like to add to that list:

OCD is… getting into bed but not before you notice the oven and remember that it wasn’t even used today. But then you start wondering if maybe you were wrong or maybe you hit the knob accidentally and if you don’t check it before you go to sleep there could be gas leaking and you won’t wake up. So you stare at the oven knobs until you’re 100% certain they are turned off.

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