This essay will introduce some similarities and differences between both symptoms and experiences of six different authors who have been personally affected by obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Since OCD is not very well understood by many members of the public ("Escape"), I hope that the experiences of the authors that I researched will be able to paint a vivid picture of what life with OCD is like.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder involves a chemical imbalance in the brain. This chemical imbalance is thought to be the main reason for obsessions and compulsions, although there may be other factors as well. Nearly one in every fifty people suffers from symptoms of OCD ("Escape"), and approximately 5 million Americans are affected by it (George 82+). To be diagnosed with OCD, an individual must suffer from obsessions and compulsions that actually interfere with their daily lives (Lanning 58+).
The authors of the essays that I read all suffered from one form or another of OCD. Robin Belinda Street is a freelance writer, wife, and aunt. Marc Summers is a 45-year-old husband, father, and TV show host of Nickelodeon's Double Dare. Elizabeth N. is a 17-year-old student and basketball player. Amy George is also a teenage student. Gabrielle Bauer is a new mother. The author of "Escape From the Manhole" is a husband, father, and graduate student. These authors of varying ages and life experiences all share a common fate. We can learn about their condition by comparing how these unique individuals experienced their common bond.
There are several common symptoms of obsessive-compulsive disorder that I observed throughout the essays. One of these symptoms was repetition. In "Secret Rituals," George explains that "[she] started having to do everything in threes" (82+). Elizabeth N. wrote, "I'd have to do everything over and over again" (Lanning 58+). Street also notes that "[she] found [herself] repeatedly checking to see if [her] coffeemaker was turned off" (72+). Another common symptom was cleanliness. Summers talks about how he would spend hours in the shower after being thrown into some weird substance on his TV show (139+). Elizabeth N. points out that she wouldn't wear clothes that she thought were contaminated (Lanning 58+). In addition, George admits, "I could think I was clean one second and dirty the next" (82+). Another area of major similarity was perfection. Summers wrote, "The clothes in my closet hung exactly two fingers apart" (139+). Elizabeth N. claims that she would have to retie her shoes and rewrite her notes in school until they were done perfectly (Lanning 58+). The last symptom I noticed was fear. Bauer wrote about how she was afraid that her baby daughter could not hear (101+). Elizabeth N. had a fear of germs and a fear that she was shrinking (Lanning 58+). Street admits her fear of running over children with her car (72+). While many of the authors had similar symptoms, there were some unique ones. ...