300.3. That’s how the DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) defines me. A four-digit number.
300.3. The number of dangerous and inappropriate thoughts I have.
300.3. The number of times I considered giving up.
300.3. The number of times my compulsions have been called neat and tidy. Neurotic. Organized.
300.3. The number of times I wish I could scream GO AWAY, LEAVE ME ALONE to my own brain.
300.3. The number of times I’ve turned the lock, hit the switch, counted my fingers and the taps, said the phrase, and sang the song.
300.3. The number of times I wish I could show you what’s going on inside my head.
You don’t see the sleepless nights, replaying myself locking the front door over and over and over and over again. Reassuring myself that if I do this my brother won’t die in my dreams tonight. Convincing myself the clean dishes will ward off the diseases I imagine losing my sister to, or the fiery car crash that will kill my boyfriend—I know that’s a lot riding on a stack of sparkling plates.
You don’t see me checking myself over inch by inch to make sure I didn’t somehow hurt myself.
You don’t see the paranoia when I’m convinced complete strangers are talking about me or when I sit on my hands in an attempt to keep myself from saying what I’m thinking.
OCD, contrary to popular belief, is not tidy or clean. It’s messy. Exhausting. Loud.
So loud that it drowns out my own voice, making me hoarse. So exhausting that I let those dishes stack up, hoping and praying they aren’t the cause of anything terrible. So messy that I push away the people I care about.
My OCD is a 300.3-pound suitcase I drag behind me wherever I go.
My OCD is a 300.3-foot flagpole that waves violently in the wind.
My OCD is a 300.3-mile road that ends just beyond the moving horizon.
But, my OCD is more than a four-digit number. I am more than a four-digit number.
I am an aunt. A friend. A sister. A daughter. A giver. I am generous. Self-assured. Fiercely loyal. Resilient.
As much as 300.3 has taken from me, it has also given.
300.3 is the number of times I have loved so, so deeply.
300.3 is the number of negative thoughts I’ve turned into positive affirmations.
300.3 is the number of elephants that have lifted from my chest.
300.3 is the number of moments I’m glad I stayed for.
300.3 is a number that I refuse to let define me.
Your diagnosis is not the end of your story. You are capable of living with OCD. Healing is still possible. We encourage you to use TWLOHA’s FIND HELP Tool to locate professional help and to read more stories like this one here. If you reside outside of the US, please browse our growing International Resources database. You can also text TWLOHA to 741741 to be connected for free, 24/7 to a trained Crisis Text Line counselor. If it’s encouragement or a listening ear that you need, email our team at [email protected].
Wow! Reading this brought tears to my eyes. I remember as a kid having some ocd but nothing like it is today. My mother suffers from it severely and I’ve grown up taking care of her for it. There’s been episodes with her that I literally thought “ my mother is crazy and I’d cry cause there was nothing I could do to help. I never understood what she was going through and would tell her it’s all in her head thinking she could just stop. Now that im older i realize mine has gotten way worse and I literally feel like I am crazy and can’t escape my mind. I appreciate your support and hope to help if there’s any way I can by telling my story.
That was beautifully written. I have OCD and that explains it so well. I’m so happy I came across this poem.