Are all disabled people OCD?Apr 06 06:53
OCD, otherwise known as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a psychological condition 1 in 50 Americans have. Technically an anxiety disorder, people with OCD uncontrollably do things, usually repetitively, to alleviate said anxiety and stress. And doctors say OCD - in all it’s controlling glory - is prevalent in the disability community. It can be great if all you want to do is clean your house, but for most, it’s an over-the-top nuisance (or worse). And yes, making you late for sh*t.
When you have a disability, you know a thing or two about not being in control anymore (understatement on the century). Whether it’s your limbs not listening, spasms, waiting on caregivers or for accessible public transportation, we get close and personal with the feeling of having no control. And while some disabled people are ok with this, there’s a portion of us who have a really hard time with it. And that’s where OCD comes in. People with disabilities will use it to feel like they have some semblance of control, and it works.
I first noticed my own mild case of OCD as a child. I’d do things like sweep the patio crazily, much to our neighbor’s amusement, or straighten everything on my makeup table so it was perfect, count the number of ceiling tiles in my classrooms. Pointless stuff that helped me feel better. I was a worry-wart kid afterall. After my accident, it took awhile, but the OCD returned with a vengeance.
I soon found myself straightening the towels on my bathroom towel rack every morning after getting up in my chair or making sure all the things in my condo were in order before going off to work. Crazy stuff. And my OCD is still there till this day. I don’t take meds to manage it. I’m fortunate to be able to control it using my own willpower, but it’s always there - my little annoying friend.
While my SCI definitely heightened my OCD, I also have a deeper stronger knowledge that at the end of the day, all control really is is an illusion. None of us can control everything in life. We just can’t. We have to give it up to something bigger. And that is where peace of mind truly lies.
Have you experienced OCD as a side-effect of your disability? What helps?
Post a comment about this blog!
1. fridawrites | Apr 11 03:21
So long as it's not substantially interfering with your life, I don't see a problem with OCD, and it does have its benefits. I am very serious when I say that my disability limits my OCD in negative ways. There's a certain amount/threshold of clutter, dishes, and laundry that interferes with my ability to concentrate, and with kids and dogs (and one of the substantially disabled as well), things aren't nearly close to what I need. And it's very frustrating since I would gladly do the tasks if I could--I really would. Plus there are things I never noticed that I am picky about until I became more disabled--socks on before jeans, for example or tasks done a certain way.
2. wheelinallover | Sep 01 08:16
Two years after becoming wheelchair bound I was diagnosed with OCD. It was brought on by constant hand washing. For years I couldn't make an hour without washing my hands. In reality it was forty five minutes because I spent fifteen washing them. My hands never feel clean. The second they touch the wheelchair rim I am ready to wash them again. You would think that with eight other people living in the house someone would clean the wheelchair rims. It never happens. So is it OCD or just that I can't handle dirty rims? Who knows. I just do my best to keep my hands feeling clean.
Disability buzz, travel, fashion and dating — fun things to amp up everyday wheeling life.
Tiffiny Carlson is freelance writer and writes the “SCI Life” column for New Mobility. She's also a C6 quad from a diving accident that occurred when she was 14 years old. A lifelong resident of Minneapolis, Tiffiny has been a writer in the disability community for over 10 years and writes for several publications and blogs, as well as her personal blog BeautyAbility. Her work has also appeared in mainstream publications such as Nerve.com and Playgirl.