Approximately two percent of people over the age of 18 in the United States suffer from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).
And we all have that one picky friend who constantly says they have OCD because they can't mix green M&Ms with red ones or handle the thought of peas touching mashed potatoes on their plate. What real sufferers deal with, however, has nothing to do with an odd desire to eat red M&Ms first, although strict organization can certainly be one of many crushing symptoms.
The fact of the matter is that your friend would be able to go about their day if they accidentally ate a green candy first. People dealing with OCD do not have the luxury of messing up a ritual and moving on.
News of a teenager named Alicia Falconer recently broke on Metro's website. The young woman, who struggles with OCD, feels compelled to tap on surfaces 100 times to ensure that her family stays alive.
Although that might sound bizarre to most of us, the fact of the matter is that these fears are very real to people dealing with the condition.
In many cases, people struggling with OCD find themselves confined to their homes because their compulsions and rituals take over their lives. You can imagine the emotional and psychological toll that would take on a person. To better understand what it feels like to be trapped by such a serious mental illness, take a look at these real-life confessions.
1. "Someone who I admired and respected passed away some years ago, and I feel like it's my fault. We never met, and I didn't know them personally at all."
"I keep thinking that through my actions, like buying tomato soup instead of spinach soup on a certain day or whatever trivial nonsense, I caused his demise."
2. "I started to think I was going to veer off the road and hit some pedestrian, so for about a year, driving got really tedious. A trip that normally took me about 20 minutes started to take me around an hour because of the constant checking and re-checking."
(via Reddit / otherdudename)
While he was out driving one day, the Redditor used everything in his power to pass a woman on the sidewalk without circling back to check on her. When he got home, he was consumed by guilt. In his words, "I had put it out of my mind for months until one day it hit me. 'What if I'd hit that woman? What if she was dead and I did it?' Ever since then, this has been haunting me. The guilt I feel gets really bad sometimes. I know in my head I didn't actually hit someone, but since I can't prove it, the guilt remains."
3. "I generally refuse to discuss my obsessions in depth because of concern that they are somehow contagious."
(viaReddit / panrestrial)
"I worry that the things I obsess over are things that would disturb anyone who really thought about them, and I can't bear the idea of anyone else feeling this way so I can't discuss them for fear I'll pass them on. Are any of you worried that if you talk in too much detail about your obsessions that listeners will become similarly obsessed?"
4. "Nobody really understands. To be in this cage you can't break free from. The misery. The things you get used to that would appall normal people."
"I can't sleep, can't eat, can't rest my arms on anything, and can't sit down. I have to wait hours before I can sit down and longer before I can sleep. I'm depressed, dizzy, thirsty, and my body hurts. Once I go to sleep, I know that I'll just wake up and do it all over again. I need out so badly."
5. "I've recently had this awareness of swallowing due to a recent post-nasal drip and I can't get rid of it. The more I think about it, the more saliva my body produces, the more times I swallow."
(via Reddit / daszeus1)
"It bothers me when I'm trying to sleep or when I wake up in the middle of the night, and sometimes I can't go back to sleep due to the constant need to swallow. It causes me insomnia."
6. "I've been having a problem as of late where I get stuck having an argument with myself in my head. That argument just repeats over and over and I can't make it stop."
(via Reddit / Vethar)
"It's an absolutely terrible feeling. I don't know what to do about it. I've always had to deal with intrusive thoughts and obsessing over particular things, but this is some next-level stuff."
7. "I have a big fear of schizophrenia and demonic possession, so I have this image of some human guy in my head and I constantly try to push it away and then accept it. Then a thought will say it's a demon."
(via Reddit / SugarPupPups)
"So tired of all these intrusive thoughts of demonic possession. So tired of it. It's so tiring trying to deal with all this. I'm stressed out."
8. "I have developed some fears about whether or not I'm losing my cognitive abilities, and as a result of that, I constantly check my intelligence by doing some incredible logic-based gymnastics in order to reassure myself that I'm not becoming stupid or worse, going crazy."
(via Reddit / Sirearthure)
"If I had to sum up this phenomenon in few words, I would say it's some sort of fear of not understanding something. Because in my poor mind, I automatically associate this fear with stupidity, and stupidity means losing myself as a human being and facing rejection from others."
9. "I count everything and add, multiply, and subtract until I get nine. Digital numbers, sides of things, everything."
(via Reddit / Ziasauruswrecks)
"Examples: It is currently 8:25 p.m. 8+2+5=15. 1+5=6. 6+3=9. Those arrows painted on the road...seven sides plus two equals nine. Stop sign, eight sides plus one equals nine. TV, four sides plus four outer edges, sometimes four more edges, equals 12. 1+2=3. 3 x 3=9. I do it all the damn time. It drives me absolutely crazy."
10. "Since the third grade, I have had an irrational fear that I'm being watched or spied on with cameras."
(via Reddit / Disirai)
I'm 28 now and still have a fear of cameras watching me. Dressing rooms, public bathrooms, the rental house I'm living in. What if the landlords installed cameras?"