Home Featured What being a survivor with OCD feels like
what ocd feels like - photo courtesy of newsweek.com

What being a survivor with OCD feels like

by Matt Pappas

I thought I would revisit this topic of, “What it feels like to me”. Previously I wrote about what being Lonely feels like and What Being Anxious Feels Like. In this post I’ll be talking a bit about what being a survivor with OCD and what that feels like. At least what it feels like to me.

As always, this is how I feel on a daily basis, and while it’s not likely to be the same as what you feel exactly, you might be able to relate to the overall feeling of obsessions and compulsions.

According to the NIMH, National Institute of Mental Health – OCD is described in the following way: Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a common, chronic and long-lasting disorder in which a person has uncontrollable, reoccurring thoughts (obsessions) and behaviors (compulsions) that he or she feels the urge to repeat over and over.

The Obsessive side –

I obsess about my recovery from childhood sexual abuse. It’s a driving force in me to educate myself, understand flashbacks, and to validate and be validated. I’m one of those people that’s either all the way over there or all the way over here, one extreme or the other.  I jump in with both feet and hit the ground running once I set my mind to something. There is no middle ground or doing something half-assed.

Having that type of personality means that I am driven and laser focused on what I’m doing. That is both a positive and a negative. The positives are obvious: I know I need to heal so I am putting in the hard work to have the life I want and to not let my past rule my future any longer.

The negative is that I can become so focused and driven to heal that I don’t take much time for self-care and down time. I know it’s important, very important, but I’m just not great at it. Yet! I’ll get there though. Otherwise I will risk burn out, and that is not an option I can afford to have happen.

Hence most everything else has taken a back seat, in favor of my recovery. So am I obsessive about it? Yep! For better or worse.  

The Compulsive side –

These are just general things that I do on a daily basis, not necessarily related to recovery. Such as:ocd

  • Locking the door twice and checking it several times before I leave the house.
  • Checking the back door and windows more than once just before leaving to make sure they are locked. Even though I know they are already locked.
  • Checking that my keys are attached to my belt loop probably a few dozen times a day.
  • Making sure I have my work badge constantly during the work day, even though I know it’s always on me.
  • Checking the thermostat regularly even though I already know what it’s set at.
  • Cleaning the counter several times after cooking dinner.
  • Looking at myself in the mirror multiple times to see if what I’m wearing looks OK. No, I’m not vain, just self-conscious and compulsive to wear slimming type of clothes. 
  • At work I double and triple check an email before I send it. I will tweak a spreadsheet endlessly to make sure it’s perfect before sending it out. While that is partly just being conscious of my work being done properly, it’s also compulsive because I will check and recheck every single thing repeatedly.
  • When I’m writing a blog post, I will spell/grammar check it multiple times and there are usually a dozen revisions before I post something up. I read and reread it many, many times.
  • Just generally not being able to let something go. I have to repeat it over and over in my head and make sure I’m getting my point across clearly. Talk about compulsively Over Thinking!

So is all of this really obsessive/compulsive or more normal than I realize? I suppose you can make a case either way but it seems pretty OCD to me. One thing I know for sure, I can relate to the struggles that countless others deal with in their daily lives. Even if mine are different than yours, that’s ok because the while the acts and thoughts may be different, the feelings and stress is the same.


You may also like


Phoenix Kelly June 19, 2016 - 10:23 am

I just talked about how obsessed I’ve become learning about my recovery and how I need to work on down time and self care. Thank you for this post.

Matt June 19, 2016 - 10:54 am

Thank you Phoenix!! Your validation always helps remind me that I’m not alone. We are not alone in our recovery journey. Being obsessed about our recovery is a good thing, it means we are putting in the work to heal and strive for the life we want. Just make sure you always take care of you, friend! You are worth it! 🙂

Joy Richardson June 22, 2016 - 6:55 pm

I wasn’t aware that you had OCD. I have an aunt who does. I have certain tendencies that are obsessive and compulsive- I have to count everything, I do everything in series of tens or series of five minutes or I feel out of control. Are there steps you are taking to manage your obsessive compulsions?

Matt June 22, 2016 - 7:01 pm

Hey Joy!!
I can’t say that I’m honestly doing anything right now that is directly related to my OCD, in terms of treatment. I guess I’m just so focused on the recovery from the past abuse and the mother issues, and plus I’m not good at multi-tasking anyways. I think though in time as I continue to heal I’ll be able to get a better handle on the OCD part of me as well.

jaklumen August 4, 2016 - 2:26 pm

It is hard to make the distinction between rabid perfectionism and OCD, isn’t it? I don’t doubt that both come from very similar roots and that the main difference is by intensity and degree.

A day in the life of someone who Dissociates. November 14, 2016 - 2:32 pm

[…] I snapped back to reality and realized I better get it in gear so I halfheartedly listened to the news and weather, fed the fish, double checked the lights and thermostat and walked out the door. Of course, being OCD, I had to make sure the TV was off, even after I turned it off. Then I had check the thermostat twice, and check that I locked the door, twice. This whole OCD thing, that’s a whole other topic.  […]

The Tricks of Anxiety: Catastrophizing everything as "the worst ever". - Surviving My Past January 18, 2019 - 1:52 pm

[…] look at it from another angle, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and the anxiety threat of, “Do this or […]


Reply with your thoughts

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.