What It's Really Like To Live With OCD

Many are only aware of the stereotypes of obsessive compulsive disorder, and not what it really is.

depressed womann Andrey_Popov / Shutterstock

OCD is an acronym for Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder.

Many people often think that OCD is a lax term used in conversation by people who “clean too much” or are “thrown out of whack” because their pens weren’t aligned in their pen pouch.

Many also think that this term refers to people who are germophobic and can’t touch a doorknob in public places or even use a public bathroom (which, to be honest, makes sense since most public bathrooms are nasty).


In reality, however, OCD is so much more than obsessive cleaning, having things organized a certain way, or germophobia.

RELATED: A Slave To Control: A Look Inside My Agonizing Battle With OCD

OCD means that obsessive thoughts are constantly running through your mind, causing unnerving anxiety.


OCD is having to drop your shoes on the floor in a particular way, or something terrible will happen to you. It’s watching the clock turn from 2:39 to 2:40, not because you want to, but because you have to.

OCD is not listening to songs you love because the last time you listened to them, something terrible happened to you or someone you love.

OCD is obsessing over the tone your boyfriend or friend said something in a text or in person and thinking they’re mad at or annoyed with you. It’s a cycle that never stops.

So, you might wonder how I know so much about this. I know the signs and symptoms all too well because I was diagnosed with OCD.


So one Saturday night, I was scrolling through TikTok while drinking wine in bed, just like any millennial does. I saw a video of a girl explaining what people think OCD is versus what it is.

The way she described having OCD resembled the way I feel daily. So it dawned on me: “Maybe that’s what I have."

Afterward, I sent the video to my mom, saying, “Oh wow, that hit home.” I have felt this way since I was a little kid, but it didn’t make much sense back then. I didn’t have any trauma or serious causes, and I had a very calm and normal New England upbringing.

When I mentioned this to my psychiatrist, she said that, sometimes, there is no reason. It’s just because of the chemicals in the brain, not always brought on by trauma or learned behavior.


RELATED: What Going Through A Break-Up Is Like When You Have OCD

Since learning more about OCD, I have realized most of my anxieties are obsessive thoughts and behaviors.

I cling to every word that someone says when I’m in an awkward situation and overthink it for days. Then, I brought the problem up to them, and it turned out to be something that wasn’t worth obsessing over.

I watch the same shows repeatedly (Hi, "Frasier" and "That 70s Show") because I know what to expect and how it ends. I also associate TV with happy memories, especially these specific shows.

However, since I have learned more about OCD, I have become more aware of my obsessive behaviors and thoughts. I have learned how to engage my brain differently when I can feel the anxiety coming on.


The medication also helped me tremendously as well, because I don’t feel as overwhelmed every second of the day as I used to.

During my journey, I have learned that OCD is more than just being a “clean freak” or a “germaphobe.” Instead, OCD is a deep-seated rollercoaster of anxiety highs and lows that cause your brain to react a certain way about almost everything, all the time.

But that doesn’t mean that your OCD has to control you.


Once you learn how to react to certain situations, you can know how to control your OCD instead. You can learn how to go about your day without feeling like the whole world is against you.

Trust me. I’m walking proof that it’s possible.

RELATED: The Devastating Reality Of Living With Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Madison Zygadlo is the former editor-in-chief of Odyssey, sports reporter for MTSU Sidelines, and a former contributor to Unwritten. She writes on topics related to health and wellness, relationships, and lifestyle.