Does anyone else get annoyed when someone says they "are OCD about ____"? As in, "I'm OCD about the way my fridge looks". Grammatically it makes no sense, as you're saying "I am obsessive compulsive disorder about the way my fridge looks". I know everyone hates the constant grammar police but this one irks me. Grammar aside, there's also the downplaying of a very real mental illness when you're just saying you like all of the labels in your fridge to face towards the front. I also like things a certain way. I do not have obsessive compulsive disorder - I have never been diagnosed. Do I have some obsessive tendencies and thoughts? For sure, I think we all do. Have my obsessive thoughts about certain things increased in the past few months? Also yes. What I hadn't considered until therapy last week is the distinction between obsessive thoughts and obsessive compulsions.
I was telling my couples therapist about my concern about my lack of progress as I get random sad thoughts that aren't triggered by anything specific. The example I told her was that I was in the shower last week, triggered by absolutely nothing, and the thought jumped into my head that perhaps my husband misses this woman he was texting this year. Kind of debilitating for a moment when I'm just trying to wash my hair. My therapist was not concerned and explained that obsessive thoughts are a common symptom of PTSD. At first she said that OCD is a common symptom of PTSD, then backtracked and said these are just thoughts, there are no compulsions tied to them. That difference struck me as interesting. I was given journaling prompts to keep my focus on the present and the future rather than the past. My husband also explained that he hasn't thought of her once except when I bring her up. So that half makes me feel better and half makes me jealous of the ease with which the perpetrator can move on while the victim is left pulling herself together for a much longer period.
And then a few days ago I was faced with a real-time example of obsessive thoughts and behaviors as opposed to obsessive compulsion. I rarely / never use Facebook but I have it. I went on Facebook to search for something completely unrelated and almost immediately found myself typing her name into the search bar next. Knowing that I shouldn't and feeling that pit in my stomach even while I was searching and subsequently looking at every public photo. Obsessive behavior, front and center. And then the thought popped into my head - you should leave a comment, you should message her. The siren song of obsessive compulsions. So I blocked her. It feels silly to say that there is a win in a series of moments that made me feel so small, petty, and still in pain. But I didn't do the compulsive thing. I pushed on the bruise but I didn't bang it on the sharp edge of the table on purpose. I drove to the overlook but I didn't drive off of the cliff. "This is me trying".
I felt a low-lying sense of illness for the rest of the day - my consequence and lesson learned for going through all of the photos. But I also felt a tiny sense of victory around the fact that I didn't engage in the most destructive behavior, even though it was tempting. Progress, not perfection. Steady as she goes.