I’ve had obsessive-compulsive disorder for thirty-three years, and I’ve been writing about it for the past four.
You probably know the basics. Obsessive-compulsives experience torturously intrusive thoughts and fears – obsessions. These thoughts tempt us to engage in ritual behaviors – compulsions – in order to make the thoughts go away. Doing so, however, only strengthens the cycle.
For me, OCD is the background, the wallpaper, the atmosphere, and the lens – a world that is often so seamless and complete as to be indistinguishable from the real thing. It crops up everywhere – coloring my relationships, toying with my ambitions and desires, and colonizing past, present, and future. That’s why I write and podcast: describing my experience allows me to get some distance from it, to see the distortions that I take for clear sight.
But the psychological tendencies underlying OCD aren’t limited to those of us with diagnoses. In some ways, they’re widespread – a set of cognitive and emotional tendencies that infect our wider culture and politics. On occasion, I try to say something about these arenas as well.
If you’re new here, I recommend reading The First Few Chapters of a Life with OCD and Learning to Fall Apart. If you’re into politics, you might also enjoy I Wrote Speeches For Vice President Biden. Here’s What It Felt Like.