When we talk about people like Jesse Owens, Wayne Gretzky and Tiger Woods we use words like superstar, hero, and natural phenomenon to describe them. Yet the reality is these people are not much different from people like me, someone who has been diagnosed to have OCD, which is a mental disorder . All 4 of us are miracles in life, naturally occurring anomalies and phenomenons of nature!!! The major difference between us is how society has chosen to brand people like me with labels that convey that we are damaged, dysfunctional and very often to be disposable!
OCD is an acronym for medical term used to identify and label someone who exhibits an uncontrollable obsessive compulsive behavior which is medically diagnosed as “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” Believe it not you have experienced this behavior under certain situations in our own life. In fact it is a totally natural instinctual behavior and it is one of the basic defense mechanisms that are built into our DNA. I am going to share this that I know many of you have probably experienced in your life. We all love to go away on a holiday to get some much needed and wanted rest and recreation. This exercise to escape from the everyday stress in your life, triggers a very specific behavior pattern that introduces a form of stress into your life to deal with.
This new form of stress actually began manifesting the moment you first thought about taking a holiday and doesn’t fully subside until after you return home and your everyday life returns to normal again. This is why you often hear people say ‘The worse things about taking vacations, is coming back and having to cleanup all the messes that were created while they were away’ This form of stress is part of your body’s normal natural defense mechanisms that alert you the potential personal harm , danger or injury that might result from the actions you are about to take. Despite all your warnings your mind has sent you. You decided to take a vacation anyway, at that very moment your subconscious mind immediately activated your ‘OCD’ defense mechanism with…
Stage 1 OCD – From the point you decided to take a holiday, stress slowly builds up to the eve of your departure. This stress is primarily created from all the additional activities you needed to complete in order for you to take a holiday, that in turn prevented you accomplishing the things that you normally were able to accomplish.
Stage 2 OCD – The eve before your departure, the stress rapidly begins to build. Even though you eat a good dinner and decide to hit the sack early so you are fully rested for your flight the next day; your mind is constantly reviewing all the checklists you made to ensure that you would have a great time relaxing and enjoying your holiday. This overly active brain causes you to have a restless sleepless night. You finally decide to drag ass out of bed in the morning, reach over and grab your smartphone to check the time and discover it’s only 2 AM!
Stage 3 OCD – Now unable to go back to sleep and knowing your flight doesn’t leave until 1 PM, now your stress level has built up almost to your boiling point. So you end up spending the rest of the night running around like a chicken with its head cut off doing…
- You run around double checking to make sure the lights are off.
- You make sure all the windows are closed and locked
- You makes sure all the water faucets are turned off
- You make sure your lawn’s automatic watering system is programmed properly
- You throw out all the perishable food in the fridge
- You make sure all the garage doors are locked doors and your car’s security alarm is armed.
- You go through your luggage one more time just to make sure you have not forgotten to pack anything.
- You double and triple check your airline tickets to make sure you have them.
- You wash the dirty dishes and put them away
- You even managed to get a couple of loads of laundry washed, dried folded and put away!
Stage 4 OCD: It’s now 15 minutes before the cab is supposed to arrive to take you to the airport. You finally resign yourself to that fact that if you have missed or forgotten anything it’s too late for you to do anything about it. So you decide to take these few minutes to sit down and try and relax before the cab shows up. As you sit there waiting you suddenly realize that you haven’t been this productive or efficient working around the house and that it hasn’t looked clean and tidy since the last time you took a holiday. The cab finally arrives… 20 minutes late! Not to worry though, everything begins flowing smoothly again once you finally hit the road. You have that badly wanted and needed time you wanted and needed for to relax and rejuvenate, before you had to return home again…
Stage 5 OCD: Getting yourself ready for the return trip home puts you through Stages 1 through 4 again before you find yourself safely on the way home again…
I used this real life experience as an example of how the natural ‘OCD’ defense mechanism normally works. The difference with people like me, is that the mechanisms in my brain that control this defense mechanism do not work properly and we end up getting stuck in an endless loop that spirals out of our control. Learning how to identify, manage and control the conditions that trigger this defense mechanism takes time, patience and a lot of hard work. This is the same process we apply to grow. develop and master any skill or talent. The real life challenge for people like me is not having ‘OCD’, it is overcoming society’s perceptions that we are intellectually limited, emotionally challenged and incapable of functioning normally in the real world!!! In this day and age, is there anyone who can? So why do people and continue treating us this way? The truth about OCD is that it is not not a disorder at all. It is a natural phenomenon. If everyone focused on the human potentiality of people with ‘OCD’, instead of societal imposed limitations., other people just like me could accomplish things that no one else could have ever dreamed possible! In my life I am blessed and filled with gratitude to my parents for embracing this phenomenal gift that I was born with. Their love, support and dedication enabled me to discover, embrace and actualize that having “OCD” just means I am a just a very, very, very, very, very, very ‘Optimistically Creative Dreamer‘
“The most fundamental human right is to be able to live LIFE with purpose, meaning and dignity”
Bill Macquis – ‘LIFE’ adventurer, explorer and pioneer