The Problem with Self-Diagnosis and Blaming “My OCD”

You’re a self-prescriber.  A certified Googler with the chops to diagnose and then medicate, degree non necessary.  A red rash? Seasonal allergen. Excess sweating? High cholesterol.  People like us?  We save our deductibles and skip the waiting room…WebMD is cheaper, faster, and available. Right?

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If you’re like me, then you don’t need no stinkin’ doctor!

Instead, you’re a self-prescriber.  A certified Googler with the chops to diagnose and then medicate, degree non necessary.  A red rash? Seasonal allergen. Excess sweating? High cholesterol.  People like us?  We save our deductibles and skip the waiting room…WebMD is cheaper, faster, and available.


Hopefully, you see the flawed logic here, and more importantly, I pray that you never took a Z-Pack to heal a sprained wrist.  Our tendency to cut professionals in favor of our own crowdsourcing abilities is staunch, but, gets sharper still when we attempt to diagnose our affectedness that show no physical symptoms.  We’re talking about the world of learning disabilities, behavioral disorders, and the rest of the medical spectrum that defines “social illness.”  Nobody seeks eczema or Hyperhidrosis, but, when it comes to our behaviors we’d willingly default to an “illness,” rather than admit our own short comings.  We’re not bad at math, it’s our Dyslexia that’s to blame for our faulted multiplication tables.  Also, we’re not unfocused people, it’s our ADHD that’s to blame.  And, finally, what I see to be the most self-assessed ailment, our knack for carrying bad habits. We’d be able to quit those, were it not for our crippling OCD.  Right?

Blame it on my…..

Now, before we go further I’d like to clear the record.  The aforementioned and the rest of mankinds learning abilities are totally legitimate…in fact, that’s why I sat to write this today.  I’m blowing the whistle and calling bullshit on our fraudulent prognosis,’ because whatever rights and leniencies we have created for actual, scientifically backed cases, are rights and leniencies reserved for those that actually need them.  Like using your Grandmothers handicap parking sticker without her in the passenger seat, unverified illness is the cause of moral hazard and the inhibitor of progress.

As for Obsessive Compulsive Order, the fault is unearthed in our vernacular.  We’re quick to tell our co-workers not to touch our pencils as that’d disrupt “our OCD.”  Same goes for the significant others that ask us to hang their bath towels from the shower hook rather than the doorknob.  “Our OCD,” the version of the disorder that we elect to have, creates indisputable excuses and turns status quo grey areas into stark black and whites.  We leverage these things from liabilities into assets, from wants into needs.  That has to stop though, as appropriation, whether cultural, racial, or physiological, is a pseudo theft of identity and those rights ought to be reserved.

The fact of the matter: We’re leveraging things that we don’t really have.


But, I’ll show mercy unto those who claim to be obsessively compulsive.  We all have our shitcks and shpeels, so accrediting our habits, both nasty and pro, removes the hassle of explanation.   It’s pretty easy, and pretty wild, that we affix our bullshit onto medical rationale.  In the immediate, it helps to save some face, but in doing so we spite our noses.

Virtually everyone has experienced worries, doubts or fears at one time or another. It’s natural to worry about life issues such as your health or the well-being of someone you love, paying bills or what the future will bring.  Everyone has also an occasional intrusive thought; it’s not even abnormal if you’ve had an intrusive “bad” thought.  That’s not OCD.

OCD is diagnosed when obsessions and compulsions

  • Consume excessive amounts of time (an hour or more each day)
  • Cause significant distress
  • Interfere with daily functioning at work or school, or with social activities, family relationships and/or normal routines.

OCD is characterized by obsessive thoughts, impulses, or images and compulsions (overt or mental rituals) that are difficult to suppress and take a considerable amount of time and energy away from living your life, enjoying your family and friends or even doing your job or school work.

 In brief, OCD inhibits normalcy, it isn’t a deportment that helps you create it.

Everyone has habits, but very few have true rituals and therein lies our divergence.  OCD at large will cripple you, and preludes circumstance mightier than a mere nuisance.   Rather than devaluing the plight of those actually inflicted, let’s bolster their credibility and as importantly, extrapolate some wisdom into our own lives, which are, medically speaking, located outside the spectrum.

1 in 40 adults in the U.S. have on-file reporting’s of actual OCD.  For the other 39…the word is accountability.  Your vices and cruxes and afflictions and habits are your crosses to wear or remove.  If we want to appropriate, do so in the lessons and motifs of the 2.3%, not in the flex they are granted.

The hallmark of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is rituals.  Like in the show Monk, Adrian doesn’t color-code M&M bowls for pleasure or aesthetic, he does so to center himself.  Taking the time, whether that be seconds or hours, to be meticulous creates a “home base.”  Rituals make a sufferer of OCD feel in control.  Flicking the light switch 7 times with your left hand isn’t about discipline or preference.  It’s about autonomy.  These quirks make everything okay, as they offer daily assurance that we are in the driver’s seat of our lives (again, please don’t use Gram Grams parking sticker!)

Over time, our habits do become rituals.  Smoke breaks every other hour.  The gym at 6:30am on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  White socks only, never black.  For a true OCD sufferer, the bowl of M&M’s isn’t juxtaposed against their need for order, but their need for control.  Take the bowl away from you and you’ll miss the visual.  Take the bowl away from them and they’ll miss the process.  Understand that.

We all have “our OCD,” and the version of it that best fits our tendencies.  We can’t quit the JUUL, post-work brews, and RedZone on Sunday; but, we can replace them.

While we’re addicted to nicotine, quitting smoking isn’t about weaning off the drug so much as it is substituting the ritual.  We’ll ache and pain from the withdrawal, but the 5 fleeting minutes we afford ourselves to go outside and smell the roses is where the true compulsiveness stems from.  Rituals make everything seem okay, because they put us at ease that we are where we ought to be.  Outside.  At the gym.  In our bathroom.  Your affixation is your assurance, and no doctor would prescribe against ample doses of peace of mind.

We can’t break our habits, but we can replace our rituals.  No excuses.



1 comments on “The Problem with Self-Diagnosis and Blaming “My OCD””

  1. Excellent points are made here: It is indeed the ritual, not the addiction, that has me taking a cup of coffee, whilst reading the morning newspaper, before breakfast and heading off to work, or the weekend activities. On the rare day that I’m out of coffee or the newspaper doesn’t get delivered, I survive quite nicely.


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