>Today, during what I thought was going to be a routine examination, I had a big piece of news dropped upon me by the doctor. She diagnosed me as having Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, an anxiety disorder that is familiar enough to the general public by name, but remains as widely, if not more, misunderstood than ASDs.
I had actually before been diagnosed with OCD, at the age of five by a medical practitioner in my hometown, after I showed “strange” behaviour in school. But my mother didn’t agree with the diagnosis, perhaps out of embarrassment, or out of a misunderstanding of OCD meaning that I should have kept my room spotlessly clean, and she didn’t put any more thought into it. The last time it was mentioned was when I was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome, and my mother was so embarrassed she didn’t even mention it by name, and wrote down what the Doctor had diagnosed me with and passed it to the psychiatrist without giving me a chance to look at it. It was only by my own snooping and invoking my right to know my own medical history that I learned of this later.
So naturally, I was familiar with the possibility, but had not given it much thought. Much of my behaviour that is the criteria for diagnosis was behaviour I dismissed as being related purely to my Asperger Syndrome, rather than a signal of another disability. Nervous habits, highly ritualized behaviour, an aversion to mixing food on my plate, the need to knock the walls in a room with my knuckles before sleeping in it, clawing and kneading clothing, furniture, and wallpaper to calm down, sanitizing my doorknobs, and having to touch my laptop, bedpost, or toes before remembering something all sounded like something that a typical aspie experienced to me. I have many other ways of filling the criteria, but they’re either extremely triggering, personal, or downright embarrassing, so I am opting out of sharing it on this blog. But with a bit of independent research from the library and going more into detail with the doctor, I decided that the diagnosis fit, and I’ve now accepted it. In addition, with no surprise to me, I received a diagnosis of PTSD and Pica, both of which I already knew or suspected I had, but had not obtained an official diagnosis for until now.
I’m anticipating many changes in my life owing to this diagnosis, mainly in my perception of myself, and how my disabilities will affect the way I am treated by society. I’m hesitant about fully “coming out” as being Obsessive Compulsive, because I worry not only about minute things like being jokingly called “Mr. Monk” and asked if I mind a lamp being moved three centimetres, but big things like being dismissed as a liar because I do not fill the common stereotypes of an obsessive compulsive, who are portrayed as being hygienic and orderly to a fault, which I certainly do not fulfil.
But every new thing I learn about my brain and the nature of disability is a door opening for me. This gives me a chance to learn why my brain works the way it does, how it works, and how I can best use that particular mode of functioning not only to lead an optimally happy life, but also to help others who may have multiple mental disabilities. Without looking up any of the numbers off-hand, I’d say we’re probably more common than people give us credit for. And the more we speak out, the more difficult it becomes to continue to stigmatize and isolate us.