International OCD Foundation
by Max Mickenberg
Picture this. It’s time for bed. Say good night to each person, pet, and stuffed animal in the house. Walk to the bedroom, 48 steps, must end on an even number – wait is the back door closed? Go back and check. It is. Walk to the bedroom, 48 steps end on an even. Wait – when the backdoor was checked, did the front door maybe open? Go back and check. OK, front door is closed. Walk to the bedroom, 48 steps end on an even. Turn all the pillows facing the right way. Go into the bathroom and wash hands. Brush teeth. Okay, wash hands. Wait. Did I brush for 2 minutes? Brush teeth again for 2 minutes. Wash hands. Blow nose – really hard so I don’t stop breathing while I’m sleeping. Wash hands. Go to the bathroom. Wash hands. Turn off light with elbow since hands are washed. Get in bed, 8 steps end on even. Wait – did I flush the toilet? Go check. Yes, toilet is flushed. Wash hands. Turn off light with elbow. Get back in bed, 8 steps end on an even. Wait, did I say good night to everyone? Say good night to everyone again, just in case. Crazy, huh? No – it’s OCD.
OCD, otherwise known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a term that a lot of people use to describe odd behavior that can’t be easily explained. However, most of us really don’t know what OCD is and how real and difficult it can be for someone who is truly affected by it. OCD is not a disease, it is a disorder of the brain. There is a chemical in the brain called serotonin that affects someone’s reasoning skills but experts think that a person who has OCD does not have the right amount of serotonin. You most likely will not die from it but sometimes the symptoms are so bad that they can cause great harm. For instance, being afraid to eat because you do not know where the food has been or who has touched it can cause starvation. It is believed that 1 in every 200 kids and as many as 1 in every 100 adults may have OCD. Kids and adults often try to hide their symptoms because they are embarrassed. It can go for years without being recognized.
The International OCD Foundation is a not for profit organization that started about 25 years ago by people who were affected by OCD. The goal of the International OCD Foundation is to support research into the cause of OCD and to help educate the public and health care professionals about it in order to be able to provide treatment options. Unfortunately, there is no cure for OCD because no one knows the cause. But as the International OCD Foundation grows and awareness in the community grows, there are more and more treatments available that help people control the symptoms. These treatments include different kinds of therapy and medication.
Remember the description of OCD from my first paragraph? That came from personal experience and that was my routine every night. One of the main reasons I have gotten
Although I have had it for several years, it was only a couple of years ago that I found out I had it because no one really could figure out why I was behaving the way I was. It felt like there were 2 people living in my body, Max and OCD. They fought all day about everything and most of the time OCD won. It was exhausting for me and for my family. Thanks to the International OCD Foundation’s research and the treatment options now available to me, I still fight OCD every day but most of the time I am able to win.
Most of the behavior that happens because of OCD is from fear. For example, most people lock doors because they don’t want someone to break in and hurt them. Someone without OCD will lock a door and be comfortable. Someone with OCD will lock a door and then check it all night long because OCD tells them that there is a chance the door came unlocked. The fear of objects such as stuffed animals coming to life is very real to someone with OCD, but it is totally unreasonable to someone without OCD. Fear of germs, fear of dying, fear of something happening to a loved one, fear of making a mistake, all of these things can cause someone with OCD to develop patterns of strange behavior or rituals to overcome these fears. Hour long showers, rewriting the letter “A” until it is perfect, repeating phrases every night at the same time, checking appliances to make sure they are off or doors closed are odd behaviors to someone without OCD. These are all patterns developed to overcome the bad thoughts. They don’t make sense, you know they don’t, but you have to do them. It can take over your life.
There are actually many people that you all know who have OCD like, David Beckham, Howie Mandell, Jessica Alba, and Howard Stern. They all have OCD, but through treatment they have been able to become very successful and live normal lives.
The International OCD Foundation provided me and my family with information about my disorder and helped us understand what we needed to do to treat it. I hope that the International OCD Foundation will eventually find the cause of OCD and find new and better treatments so that others can live better with their OCD as well. Please help support the International OCD Foundation’s efforts to find the cause , the cure and increase awareness for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.