So, you have OCD huh? You're scared to let someone in and see the crazy? I get you, I really really do.
When I first start dating someone, It's kind of easy to hide my compulsions since our time together is limited and set. I use my beating heart to distract me from the oppressive thoughts I'm plagued with most days; my nervousness saving me, for once. At the start of a relationship you're so giddy about potentially falling in love that for the most part, your usual anxieties seem to fall by the way side, and as all my fellow OCDers will know, the less anxious you are, the more bearable your OCD will become.
But what about after? When the water settles and it's just you two, starting at each-other, learning everything about one another?
Yeah, that's when it gets scary.
I'm not an expert on OCD and I most certainly am not an expert on dating (seriously, I'm clueless). However, I live with OCD every day, and have experience mixing the two. So today, I want to share with you the five things I've found to be key when bringing both parts of your life together as peacefully as possible.
I'm very upfront about my OCD. If I feel a relationship, romantic or platonic is going anywhere, I will make a point of saying I have OCD. This may seem strange, but honestly, it has saved me a lot of stress and has helped my friends understand when I need a little help, and when it's best leave me alone. I know many people have a hard time being upfront about having OCD or any other illness that comes with stigma, but a few years ago I made it a point to tell people early on. At the end of the day, if they can't accept you for who YOU are, then they really don't deserve your time and love.
Teach them about OCD and learn more about it yourself. If you have particular feelings of stress and anxiety, look up why that may be. My partner enjoys knowing how things work and can always deal with a situation if all the details are set out in front of him. So, I set out and made a book about OCD. I included emotional and biological reasons behind OCD, as well as a section on representation in the media. I covered everything and learned a lot of stuff myself as a I went along. It may sound strange, but looking at the finished book, I felt a lot happier with myself. I accepted a little more that it was okay to have OCD and that I'm not bat shit crazy like many people believe OCD'ers to be.
LET THEM HELP YOU
This is a hard one, and many times there is nothing they can do to help you with your routine or relieve your stress. However, if there are some things they can do, confide in them and don't be afraid to ask. I've started doing this more and more as I gain confidence. I always feel a little bad, but I remind myself that if it were the other way around I would do it in a heartbeat. I remind myself I am worth being helped and there's no shame in asking.
BE AWARE OF YOUR THOUGHTS
If you suffer from OCD, then you will know what I mean when I say your thoughts can be more distressing than the idea of a 25 hour layover at the smallest airport in the world. Constantly talking, that small voice in your head never stops causing you grief. 'Maybe they don't love you.' 'Maybe you don't love them enough. Yes, that's it. That one kiss last night when you were tired felt sloppy and unnatural; it means it's over! End it.' While everyone has these kinds of worries from time to time, for many people with OCD, this monologue is on loop. These thoughts are actually the result of ROCD or Relationship Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, in which the obsession is focused on the relationship at hand. As someone who has these thoughts, let me tell you that it's okay. If you yourself suffer from ROCD, just take a minute to breathe and ask yourself if you really feel this way or if you are overanalysing and obsessing. For those of you with partners who have expressed such feelings and worries, be there to comfort them and be understanding, even if it's difficult to hear. They are telling you because hurting you is the last thing they ever want to do.
HAVE FUN WITH IT
OCD ISN'T FUN!! I hear you screaming in your minds. I know, it sucks, but that doesn't mean it has to be all doom and gloom. Even numbers is a big deal for me, and my boyfriend caught on early that nearly everything has to be even for me, which has led to him stealing an odd number of kisses just to get one more. He's helped me laugh more at myself and helps me feel more relaxed in my own skin, and more importantly, my own mind. It's truly wonderful when you can laugh at yourself, even through tears.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is no joke. It makes simple tasks like going to bed, leaving your house and even falling in love difficult. Everything comes with a trigger, a stress that makes you want to just lay down and stop. I know the feeling, and many days leaving the house feels almost impossible. Just remember that it doesn't define you. It doesn't make you any less deserving of peoples love, time and patience. If you have OCD, please don't be afraid to let people in, because if they're the right people, they won't even bat an eyelid. For those who know someone with OCD, be patient and known that they understand their compulsions are not logical. Just help them through them; help them feel relaxed and I promise they will appreciate it forever.