I am generally a pretty positive guy.
A long time ago, when I was talking with a therapist during behavior therapy, I recall she was trying to tell me something about the nature of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). She said that I seemed very happy talking to her while I was talking to her. However, she said, in the end, after the therapy session, OCD would try to remove the hope I was exhibiting during the session once I walked out to the sidewalk. Reality would take over.
In this article, I argue that it is OCD — and not reality — that tries to systematically remove hope of this particular sufferer. If it doesn’t remove hope about one subject, it systematically moves to the next thing.
As a person who struggles with obsessive-compulsive disorder, I am always worrying about making assessments about life and how things will turn out for me in the long run. People without the disorder don’t have to worry about these things as much.
The doctors don’t really know what is going on with OCD in general. The one clue we do have to this mysterious disorder is that serotonin plays a role in some way. OCD is presently incurable.
Due to being overwhelmed by symptoms, a lot of people with OCD cannot be successful or stay with long-term employment. Like people without mental illness who have to cope with a poor economy, the routine is that they start to become convinced that it is their fault that they don’t have a job and their sense of self is tarnished.
I don’t like to have unresolved situations such as whether I am going to find work or have money. It has been a long time since I have worked (over 10 years). I have tried pretty much everything you can think of including volunteering for the town I live in, volunteering for many libraries, interviewing at virtually every retail store in town: Lowe’s, Best Buy, and Target (two times), and putting in countless applications online. I tried graduate school. At least I have my college degree in psychology.
Because people with mental illness are placed in a different category than those without, they feel like they are not on the same playing field. They are placed in their own hierarchy with others with their disease, separate from those who are well. After a long time of not having work, they start to believe that they are missing out on life and that they are inferior to people without the disorder. They cannot enjoy things as easily as other people who have work.
In addition to this, they are always worrying about the future and what’s going to happen to them. They are constantly being held hostage by their disorder and a bad economic climate. I saw an article somewhere that said that people with mental illness have been hit the hardest by the financial crisis. Does this make any sense? That those that are most vulnerable (the sick) are in the hardest spot when a Great Depression hits?
It is very hard to get excited about things when you are out of work and in constant survival mode. Depression, which sometimes goes hand in hand with OCD, makes it harder to feel pleasure and be spontaneous. The simpler explanation is that blunted emotion about life could just be what people with or without the disorder normally feel in a Great Depression. Or it could be anhedonia, which is the inability to feel pleasure, brought on by medications.
People without the disorder don’t have to worry about the side effects of medications and can pretty much go from day to day not feeling like they are living the same day over and over again with no results. They have goals they can usually achieve with some effort.
People with obsessive-compulsive disorder want answers about the causes of their illness. Serotonin is a clue but the theories are all over the map regarding the brain chemicals that cause this disorder. There has been progress on brain research in some direction but the brain remains the Great Unknown. If it is anything that is going to keep you guessing it’s a brain disorder.
Because people with OCD are constantly beat down by the situation so many times, sometimes they think they should just stop trying to achieve their goals. People with mental illness want to live full and productive lives. They don’t like to be written off. They are missing out on a lot of things by not having a job or having the chance to experience a full and pleasurable and spontaneous social life.