Stop These Thoughts… PLEASE!
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a very strange and insidious phenomenon. Put simply, OCD is a chemical disorder which manifests itself in two ways, often combined.
Obsessions are thoughts, images, or impulses that occur over and over again and feel out of your control. These unwanted ideas are accom- panied by sickly, horrifying feelings of fear, disgust, doubt and, mainly, intense guilt.
Compulsions are a “magical” way of trying to make the obsessions go away. They are acts the person performs over and over again, often ac- cording to certain self-imposed “rules.”
Because everyone experiences the above to some degree and at some time during their lives, when trying to explain this to people – especially the intrusive thoughts aspect – most people respond by saying, “Sure, I’ve had that too.” But they haven’t. Not to the “insane degree” OCD suf- ferers have.
The long road to diagnosis and the road traveled since has been long and there have been many, many setbacks along the way.
One summer evening many years ago, leaving work during a rainstorm, I sat outside waiting for the rain to let up so that I could get to my car without getting drenched. As I sat there, I had a particularly horrible OCD thought which set off a chain of other related thoughts. I’m still not sure if the downpour of rain or outpouring of horrid, disturbing thoughts came more furiously. I – a grown man respected in the business community – just sat there bawling my eyes out, and pleading to G-d, “Stop these thoughts . . . PLEASE!”
Through medication and behavior therapy, the symptoms are now a bit softer and, for me anyway, most defnitely livable. One never actually overcomes OCD, but can learn to deal with it more effectively.
Living with OCD is a “different” sort of life. You’re never totally free from its grasp. You can’t exactly decide to simply “not participate” in its manifes- tation.
You live your life and you work around it. And you hope that your story can help others to know that there are lots of us who do understand them, and that there are places that have a wealth of information about it, such as the OC Foundation in Boston, MA (www.ocfoundation.org), which has done marvelous work in this feld for close to 25 years.
While there is nothing intrinsically good in OCD to the sufferer (in other words, one doesn’t succeed because of OCD but in spite of it), there is one aspect of it that has helped me add positively to the lives of others. Because of my experience, I have an almost extraordinary amount of empathy for others who are suffering; suffering with and/or from anything. This has allowed me to help many others in different ways and has clari- fed for me the message of The Go-Giver.
Is that worth having OCD? No, absolutely not. But, for whatever reason it is in G-d’s plans that I have this disorder, I’m glad I can at least be a conduit for helping others.
I live in gratitude at how fortunate I am to do work I love, touch lives in a positive way, and be surrounded by close family, friends and acquain- tances, both online and off.
If you have faced challenges – even horrendous ones – (and we all have), how can you use that experience to foster empathy and bring value to the lives of others?