My OCD is worse than yours

What do people with OCD do when they get together… I’d usually be reluctant to answer, but, in honor of OCD Awareness Week, I thought that I’d let you in on a little secret. A lot of what we do, when we’re not critiquing the work of actors pretending to have what we have, is size one another up, assessing each others talents relative to our own. And, by talents, I mean one’s OCD related quirks. I’ve never been a great athlete, but I imagine they go through a somewhat similar process upon first meeting a competitor. I’m ashamed to say that I’m kind of an elitist when it comes to OCD. Without getting too much into specifics, I don’t generally respect those who place significantly lower than me on what I’d call the misery index. (Remind me to tell you one day all the things that factor into the OCD misery index.)

I remember being in a group therapy session once, where the doctor in charge circulated a form for people to sign in on. I was amazed at the number of people who signed in with the communal pen, which had to be teaming with germs and disease. I remember thinking, “We don’t have any true superstars in this group.” At the time, though, it wasn’t like it mattered. Even if we had someone incredible, with totally brilliant rituals, and completely debilitating obsessions, there wasn’t a professional arena for them to compete in. Apparently, however, that’s changed recently, with the advent of reality television. My friend with OCD in Pittsburgh on occasion sends me clips from a show called Obsessed. Here’s the most recent one that he’s brought to my attention.

My friend is convinced that the guy is faking, and I’m inclined to agree. He’s drawing way too much attention to himself. But, maybe it’s just that an overzealous producer got involved and convinced him to be more flamboyant than he would normally. As someone with OCD, though, it rings completely false, and I’m wondering what kind of safeguards they have have in place at A&E to make sure they aren’t scammed. At least, I can’t remember the last time I stood on a street corner and announced to everyone around me that I was about to commence a performance. Maybe they don’t care, though. Maybe they’d rather have actors who can really sell the product that they’re pushing, which is mental illness porn. My friends try to stand up for shows like this, telling me that, had shows like Obsessed existed when I was small, it might not have taken 25 years for me to get help, and maybe that’s valid, but I think it’s hard to deny that someone is being exploited here in order to sell advertising. And I think that’s worth discussing this OCD Awareness Week… And, if you don’t want to discuss that, here’s something else. How come there’s an LGBT History Month, and a Gay and Lesbian Pride Month, but those of us with OCD just get a single week? I mean, I love my gay friends with all my heart, but is it fair that they get eight weeks to my one? No offense to Dental Hygienists, who also get a week, but I think that we deserve more.

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  1. Chaely
    Posted October 13, 2010 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

    I’ve lived in 2 neighborhoods in a row where I’ve had neighbors who drove El Caminos. I’m not saying they’ve got some sort of conspiracy against me, but I’m not saying I’m not tempted to wipe them off once in a while, either.

  2. Brent
    Posted October 13, 2010 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

    Now probably wouldn’t be the time to mention we also have National Coming Out Day, the National Day of Silence, and don’t forget the grand pubah of all gay holidays – Halloween.

  3. Josh
    Posted October 13, 2010 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

    that video reminds me of the kind of one-upsmanship seen in high schools. bragging about things like this, injuries, or whatever other unfortunate occurrence is all too common.

  4. dragon
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 12:52 am | Permalink


    sinister persistence

    grape seeds
    lettuce seeds

    seek the growth
    of greener gardens

    Oh, fuck you Monk

  5. Tommy
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    No doubt an element of falseness exists in all of these shows. For a buck, people will do anything including being exploited. I am particularly intrigued (and embarrassed of myself for lacking empathy) by the show Hoarders in a similar manner. While I understand the mental health component to it, I still just want to throw all the shit these people have accumulated away and slap them upside the heads and say grow up you freak.

  6. Anonymatt
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 7:39 am | Permalink

    My advice is since OCD has already been done, try to pitch a TV show about people with huge martyr complexes. You could be the star. Or if it didn’t work out, you could complain about how unfair it was.

  7. Posted October 14, 2010 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    Tommy, I think you’re on to something. Bitch-slap therapy. I know I’ve gotten in some pretty long funks that probably would have cleared up real quick with a good ass-kicking.

    You just put two guys that have the same mental disorder in a nice sanitary mental-health octagon and let them cure each other for a couple rounds.

  8. Knox
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 8:35 am | Permalink

    I love El Caminos. They’re so fun to drive.

    As for this guy, you should look him up and call him out on his bullshit OCD. He deserves a good public beat down. Unless of course he’s really got OCD.

  9. Tommy
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Jake – real mental illness could not be cured in this manner, but sometimes these ‘lesser’ disorders (not lesser to those who are afflicted, only to those who observe their pain – we are a cruel lot, aren’t we – or those that can’t be controlled by psychotropics, SSRIs, etc.) might benefit from a little tough love and a dose of reality – Jack Nicholson’s tirade in Carnal Knowledge comes to mind.

  10. ypsijav
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 8:50 am | Permalink

    Black Jake, your proposed psychiatric approach parallels a storied chapter in the History of Mental Illness in Ypsilanti. “The Three Christs of Ypsilanti”

  11. Robert
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    I don’t want to be rude, but I’ve never been that impressed with the severity of your OCD. I think if “Obsessed” hired a hot actress to portray you and maybe exaggerate your rituals a bit, I might be more interested.

  12. Dirtgrain
    Posted October 14, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    “. . . a TV show about people with huge martyr complexes.”

    Glenn Beck?

    Regarding the potential faker, I wonder if faking a mental illness is a manifestation of some other mental illness.

    Question about OCD: when I read, I am constantly counting words per line, for some reason looking to see if there are exactly ten in a line (or twenty, if the text has long lines). When I find a line, I mentally remark, “Oh, ten words in that line.” I can mute it for a brief time, but it always sneaks its way back into my reading experience. Do you suppose this is some sort of mild OCD?

  13. Posted October 14, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Permalink

    I’m thinking bitch-slap therapy would cure most neuroses, but it wouldn’t work with psychoses. I’m on the fence with borderline.

  14. Steph
    Posted October 15, 2010 at 4:53 pm | Permalink

    This guy reminded me of Johnny Knoxville in that movie about retarded people.

  15. Gay OCD
    Posted October 16, 2010 at 12:30 am | Permalink

    Well, Mark, if you would finally come out of the closet, you would have a whole month on top of your one little week.
    Then, you could lobby congress for a special Gay-Les-Bi-Trans OCD month and you would have two months and one week.
    Then you could call for a special month for Gay Bloggers and you could have three moths and a week.
    And you could call me Ray…
    Or you could call me Jay…
    Or you could call me Ray Jay…

  16. Gay OCD
    Posted October 16, 2010 at 12:32 am | Permalink

    And isn’t the Ranchero a little dirtier than the El Camino anyway?

  17. Posted October 16, 2010 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

    You have a friend?

  18. Sandy D.
    Posted October 19, 2010 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    You gotta feel sorry for the people whose OCD is all morbid thoughts or mental counting rituals or whatnot. They’ll never get to be exploited on tv, because all an episode would consist of is a person sitting there, maybe furrowing his brow or tapping her finger occasionally.

    My son (with OCD & Tourette’s) and his friend with the same diagnosis think each other’s obsessions are the most ridiculous thing ever. They sometimes pick up each other’s tics, but they have very little sympathy for what freaks the other person out, and aren’t above using that weakness to poke at each other when they’re mad. It’s an interesting relationship.

  19. Posted October 19, 2010 at 7:43 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for commenting, Sandy… For what it’s worth, most of my OCD is of the unwelcome thought variety, and, you’re right, it does suck. I’ve found that vitamins and exercise can really help, though. In addition to whatever else you’re trying, you may want to experiment with B6, D3, 5HTP, Cod Liver Oil, and L-theanine… Best of luck with your son…. And, for what it’s worth, I’ve found people with OCD to be incredibly funny, creative and kind. It does suck at times, but there are good things about it too. Hopefully your son will discover that.

  20. papa smurf
    Posted October 23, 2010 at 1:53 am | Permalink

    Hey Mark, does bud help?

  21. papa smurf
    Posted October 23, 2010 at 1:53 am | Permalink


  22. Posted October 24, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    No, pot doesn’t help. Or, at least it didn’t 18 years ago, when I last tried.

  23. VS
    Posted January 11, 2012 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    Wow. You frickin’ rank yourself amongst others in OCD?! WTF!? If you truly had it that hard, you wouldn’t even be able to use a computer. And you definately would not want to boast about it. You do not understand the intricacies of OCD. Perhaps just surfacy stuff, but it’s a vastly deeper disorder than most people know.

  24. Posted January 11, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, that’s something I call humor. I’m trying to popularize it in America. I should have left a footnote. Sorry about the confusion.

    And, in case you missed it, I happen to have OCD, so I kind of have a handle on how bad it can suck, but thanks for pointing out how vastly deep the intricacies go.

  25. inside man
    Posted January 13, 2015 at 12:49 pm | Permalink

    I would ask if you’d like to place a wager on that, but I can’t handle money.

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