Anxiety, OCD and Phobias

In a previous post about clutter I pleaded with any reader who was baffled by how difficult it can be for some people to just keep things clean to try to understand!

So here we are. More in-depth on the topic of anxiety, OCD, phobias and hopefully some info to better help you understand them!

Let’s start with how SERIOUS these things can be.  Many a person will toss around the word OCD, and a phobia like arachnophobia very lightly. While there are some very mild forms of OCD, phobias etc, these are conditions that literally cripple people.  If you ever wonder “do I have this”  just ask your self, does ______ prevent me from doing “normal” everyday things that most other people have no trouble with?  Does ______ make me rearrange my life?

My own example: Does my fear of wasps prevent me from doing “normal” everyday things that most other people have no trouble with?

Yes, if a wasp is hovering by my front door I will not get within 30 feet of it. I will wait however long it takes for it to fly away. If a wasp is hovering outside my car I will wait however long it takes for it to fly away before exiting my car. If a wasp is in the same room as I am I will always stay on the opposite side of the room, even if this means dropping what I was doing and circling non stop for 45 minutes. 

Does my fear of looking stupid in public make me rearrange my life?

Yes, for years I would never walk into a store or even stop to buy gas if I was by myself because I was too afraid that I would do something stupid and that others would judge me. 

Present day, I’m not so afraid of looking stupid anymore, so that last one (social anxiety) I have happily overcome!  Wasps still creep me out.

So let’s go back to arachnophobia, when used lightly it can be applied to anybody whose first reaction to seeing a spider is to scream, run away, get the heebie jeebies, etc.  Someone who is legitimately suffering from arachnophobia is more like me and the wasps, except lucky for me it’s very unlikely for a wasp to get into my home or to be in random places I frequent like grocery stores etc.  So arachnophobia would make you nearly paralyzed with fear to be in your own home. You would sweep corners, vacuum every nook and cranny daily, shake out clothes, shoes, socks, possibly go as far as to keep them all in sealed bags and STILL have to check to make sure there’s no spider in them before wearing.

OCD when used lightly can apply to someone who keeps their towels folded a certain way, who organizes their closet by colors, likes things to be lined up just so.  I call those compulsive tendencies. Not quite the same as OCD.   This explains OCD better than I could with my own words, so here’s a short video from a tv show called The OCD Project.

I watched that series, it was very intense.  And it made me feel better about the things that I have not yet been able to change about my self!  I have had strangers, family members, friends, just tell me to suck it up, just deal with it, get over it. Which only adds to the overall feeling that I was a failure as a human being.  And then finally one day about 4 years ago, after posting on  a message board for navy wives about how I was MORTIFIED to go a command Christmas party, and plenty of people basically telling me I was weird and/or just not understanding the level at which I was afraid of having to be in that situation, someone sent me a private message.  In a nut shell it said, I get you, I’ve been there, it sounds like you have anxiety problems, and there is something you can do about it.  That kind woman and that message changed my life!  And I have spent a lot of time since then trying to help others who are like me, and trying to help others understand, so that maybe they too can help others.

Onward to Hoarding! Hoarding is a form of OCD, it is the opposite end from those who are OCD about being super clean and tidy.  I have seen people say, “Well why are these people so lazy? It’s not that hard to just …….”  But for them, it really IS that hard.  If you had a 100 dollar bill, and everyone expected you to just throw in the trash, how hard would that be?  It would be pretty hard, $100 is a lot of money, most people wouldn’t sneeze at the chance to have an extra hundred bucks in their pocket these days.  It is just as hard for hoarders to let go of their stuff, it might be an old bank statement from 10 years ago, but it has just as much value to them as that $100 dollars would to you.  And it’s just as hard for a professional to convince them that it’s okay to throw it away, as it would for someone to actually talk you into throwing away that $100.

And again, there are SO MANY forms that affect everyone in different ways.  And they need help, some people might not even realize that it’s something that they can get help for. I hope that I can change someone’s life someday just like someone changed mine.

This post may be all over the place, but hey, I already admitted that I’m crazy! Ha!


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