OCD Alphabet

Most of my writing about mental health has been quite serious lately, so I thought I’d take a break and do something more lighthearted. I often think in metaphors, especially as it concerns OCD, so I’ve challenged myself to use every letter of the alphabet to describe what this condition is like. I’m pretty sure I’ve tweeted some of these too.


OCD is an ass. Come on, I have to say it.


If you’re not into swearing, this one’s for you: OCD is a bully. Now I’m gonna swear again. OCD is a bullshit artist. Lies! Don’t listen to the lies!


OCD is like an evil cartoon. You can see the contours of your world, but they’re exaggerated and made nightmarish.


OCD is a donkey.*

*See letter A


Toxic earworm. Enough said.


When my OCD is manageable, it’s like a low-grade fever. I can function well, but I sense its presence, if only lightly.


When my OCD is annoying, I think of my thoughts as a cloud of gnats.


A helix. It just keeps twisting. Or maybe a double helix? It’s in my DNA.


The inevitable will happen if I don’t ritualize.


OCD is a jackass.*

*See letter A


OCD is like a never-ending knock knock joke. You know your rituals are ridiculous, but you can’t help but ask “Who’s there?”





Can a leopard change its spots?*

*See letter A


OCD as Mobius strip. Or perhaps a Mobius strip club. You keep going in, but it just makes you feel bad.


Noooooooo! That’s not exactly a metaphor, but it’s often what I say when I’m in the throes of ritual hell.


People with OCD are said to have sticky thoughts. That’s because the disorder is like an oil slick that has drenched our neurons, making it difficult to move from one thought to the next.


OCD is a puzzle with a missing piece. I don’t know about you, but I’ve been searching for that piece forever. Let’s face it; I’m never gonna find that piece. Also, sometimes the entire puzzle changes. Alkjweorufkljsadf!!!


?????? They don’t call it the doubting disease for nothing.


My convoluted rituals and thinking patterns put me in mind of a Rube Goldberg machine.


One must imagine Sisyphus happy. Or not?


OCD is a turncoat. Now I need to write a short story with a war theme and all the soldiers represent different obsessions and compulsions, and I’ll lose track of every single one, and the casualties will be many, and now I have a lot of work to do.


Staying with the war theme – OCD is a usurper, a usurper of rational thought.


When my symptoms were severe, I was often pulled into the OCD vortex.


When my symptoms are mild, my OCD is a persistent whisper.


Let’s go with a broken xylophone here. If I only hit it just right, the notes will sound perfect.




Zonkey, zebrass, zedonk – take your pick. Think of the stripes as the convoluted nature of OCD, and the assery is, well, the asssery.*

*See letter A


Your turn.


Here’s how to laugh about OCD

It appears I have been neglecting my blog again. But I’m back! Well…….I’m here to talk about how I’ve been cheating on my blog again by writing for another venue. I have another piece up at The Mighty called “How to Joke About OCD.” This isn’t so much a how-to guide as it is a meditation on when it’s appropriate to make jokes about the disorder.

Forgive me, blog. I will come back to you, if you’ll take me.


Sing with me!

So I ran across this article in The Atlantic: “Relieve Your Anxiety by Singing It.” Essentially, the author talks about how therapists are using Songify as a way to help patients cope with various anxiety disorders, including OCD. Songify basically turns your speaking voice into song, robotic, ridiculous song.

You have no idea how much this speaks to me. I am the queen of making up ludicrous songs. Also, I know that my OCD is ridiculous, but I just can’t stop ritualizing. That’s the power of OCD, right? Well, I thought I’d try it. I’ve long known about how recording your rituals can help ease the pain associated with them, but this is the first time I’ve actually done so. I think the idea of putting them to song is less scary for me. So here’s the result: This is My OCD. I sense a Grammy in my future – although a life with less anxiety would be a nice consolation prize.

What do you think of this idea? Would it work for you?


What if I don’t have OCD?

The first time I went to see a psychiatrist, I thought, “What if he says I don’t have OCD?” Though not a doctor myself, I was fairly certain I did have OCD. I had read about it, and the symptoms seemed to match mine. Perhaps not completely, but every case is different, right? It wasn’t until I was face to face with the reality of seeing a doctor that I briefly wondered if I’d gotten it wrong.

I’m fascinated by the brain, and if I were smarter, I may have become a neuroscientist. As it is, I just read books about the brain and its myriad dysfunctions. There are worse habits. At any rate, my accuracy in diagnosing brain disorders was at 100%. See, I had just diagnosed one of my students with synesthesia. During a creative writing class, she began describing how each letter for her had a particular color when it’s said aloud. This rang bells for me. I told her about synesthesia, and she checked it out. She’d always thought she was odd in a bad way. I feel like I actually did her a service. Man, I miss teaching.

Presently, however, I was facing the intake specialist. She wanted me to describe the reason for my visit. I was nervous and thoroughly overwhelmed by my (perceived?) OCD. My friend had died in a car wreck, which made my symptoms spiral out of control. The stress alone brought on the worst flu I’d ever had, for which I was only just recovering. So I likely fumbled a bit, didn’t quite articulate what I truly wanted to say. I mentioned OCD, and she scribbled notes. She seemed more interested in the trauma. I steered her back to the OCD. Was I leading the witness? Ultimately, she recommended that I see a counselor for the recent trauma, and (perhaps perfunctorily?) also recommended that I see one of the psychiatrists in the practice who “deals with OCD.” That seemed terse. Did she not believe me?

I had to wait a week before I could see the doctor, but his name was auspicious: Dr. Still. Yes! He’d keep me calm. Providing I actually had OCD, that is.

The agonizing week finally ended, and I met the doctor, who looked to be about 21. “So soon out of med school,” I thought. “Would he really have the diagnostic tools necessary to meet my needs?” This sentiment was unfair, but I was nervous and overwhelmed. I told him my symptoms, and he just kept writing notes. I alternately felt both assured by my doctoring and horrified that I’d gotten my diagnosis completely wrong. I think I may have squeaked out, “I guess it’s OCD.”

He finally put the pen down and said, “Oh, you have OCD.”

That made me laugh a little with relief. Then I thought, “Wait. Is he chastising me?” This was another unfair assessment because he followed with the best words I’ve ever heard in dealing with this disorder. “You’ve just been coping?” he said. “For over 20 years?”

I nodded.

“Well, I want you to do so much more than cope.”

Thank you, Dr. Still, for helping me thrive.


Is my blog feeling left out?

This is another post where I’m referring to writing I’ve done elsewhere. This time it’s a piece about  incorporating humor in your writing, and it’s over at Ask Your Editor.

Apparently, sometimes I talk about things other than OCD. My poor blog, however, might be feeling left out. If my blog has become sentient, I might be in trouble.

Ask Your Editor is a great site to visit for questions about editing and writing. Amanda, who runs the joint, is an awesome human and excellent writer and editor.