5 Little-known Effects of OCD

Living with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is like living in a haunted house. Intrusive thoughts are like the ghosts and monsters that pop out to startle you and cause you to lose your breath. Even though the scenes scare you, you can’t look away or close your eyes because you have to keep an eye out for danger. The hypervigilance, the tightness in your chest, the sweats, the terror — they’re both chilling.

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  • Spacing out during conversations. When I’m socializing, sometimes I catch myself retreating 100% into my mind, worrying about something I might have said wrong or that could get misinterpreted. I’ll obsess about what I could say next that will make up for the error, how I could get back into their good graces. For people with OCD that centers on rumination, they can get caught up in their thoughts while engaging in other tasks. As a result of these space-out moments, people with OCD often miss key parts of conversations in work, school, or socially.
  • Strained romantic relationships. When you’re triggered by something that a partner can’t understand nor can relate to, they might be dismissive when their partner with OCD may need validation for their feelings. It can cause this alpha/beta relationship, where the beta is the OCD-sufferer. The alpha has the upper hand as the authority on what is “reasonable” or not. This imbalance can breed resentment, discomfort, and distance between the two. Additionally, some people with OCD suffer from extreme relationship doubts, even if it’s going very well. That may cause them to pull away or not be present during quality time together.
  • Frequent crying. The discomfort from OCD can cause a need for emotional release; in my case, that’s crying. The act of shedding tears has self-soothing qualities to decrease the crushing feeling in my chest. When my OCD was at its worst, I was crying daily — I couldn’t hold it in. Try to be kind to yourself if that happens to you. Your body is trying to regulate.
  • Irritability. Being tortured by your thoughts and suffering through painful anxiety, as a result, makes for unhappy people. Grumpy people can become irritable and angry really quickly. I’m not excusing any destructive behavior, but I know that when I’m having a particularly triggering day, I get snappy with the people I love — and myself. The aches in my chest feel like they’ll be there forever, and that hopelessness can be extremely wearing on a body. If you suffer from OCD and you get cranky more often than other people, you can probably trace it back to your overwhelming thoughts. It makes sense you’re not all sunshine all the time, so be compassionate towards yourself.

An intuitive storyteller with a vision to reduce shame through blunt essays on mental illness. I’m a survivor of Bipolar, Complex PTSD, OCD, and GAD.

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