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Hi everyone, my name is Irene and I suffer from perfection-related OCD. My OCD brain wants me to believe that in order to be valid, I have to perform in a very specific way in my day-to-day life. Things like in which order I carry my morning routine out, how do I write or how many times I swallow when I drink. If I do not do these things the right way, I feel chaotic, or even physically dirty (I actually start feeling that my nails are dirty or long, that my hair is greasy or unkempt, etc). Really, it is a continuous and exhausting self-monitorization that prevents me to achieve my goals and go about my day in a normal way. It has been with me since I was a little girl, maybe starting to be quite noticeable when I was about twelve. However, it was not until I was sixteen that I became convinced of that something was deeply wrong with me, and not until seventeen that I was diagnosed. I lived through my teenage years believing that what the sick part of my brain wanted me to do were, at best, just quirks, or, at worst, rules that could be reasoned, even though they did not withstand any kind of rational analysis. Now that I am finally starting to become aware of the huge impact that OCD has had on me as a person (my self-esteem, my life choices, my likes and dislikes, etc), I find the line between me and my OCD to be a blur; who am I, and who's the person my OCD wants me to be? How am I supposed to get better when there is a part of me that does not want to treat my disorder, for that would mean feeling not valid? Any experience on these issues?

Edited by Lena

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Hi Irene,

I think many of us who've been struggling with OCD for a long time have similar experiences. I know that when I first realised I had OCD a few years ago it seemed so bound up in my identity and personality that I had no idea how I'd even go about tackling it - by that point, I'd been engaged in the OCD loop for around 15 years, and I couldn't imagine living any differently.

As with anything that affects us on a day-by-day (or minute-by-minute) basis, OCD can become a huge part of our identity. But that doesn't mean you can't start making steps to get better. I think we all have some resistance when it comes to getting better - after all, we've been engaged in this thing for so long, and it's become a kind of safety blanket. But as you say, it's not really a safety blanket because it has huge impacts on our wellbeing.

It might not seem it to you, but you've made a massive step just by recognising the problem and exploring the possibility of getting better. You don't need to get better overnight - recovery is a gradual process. Take your time, read up about OCD and how it can be treated with CBT, keep doing the things you love, find people who you can speak to about what you're going through - whether that be family, friends, or healthcare professionals. And the OCD community is here for you too - there are a lot of us, and we're all going through remarkably similar things.

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