Are your obsessive thought signs of OCD, or just quirks of modern life? 

“I’m completely obsessed with this bracelet.”

“You’re being so OCD right now.”

They’re sentences we can expect to hear in normal conversation. Everyone feels fixated on or drawn to things from time to time.

But for the thousands of people with undiagnosed OCD, anxiety or depression, certain obsessions or obsessive thoughts take a different shape.

How can you tell if you or somebody you care about is crossing that line? Maggie Lamond Simone, author of the memoir Body Punishment about struggling with OCD and anxiety, offers these guideposts for distinguishing OCD from the quirky obsessive thoughts we all experience:

These thoughts block out all others

An OCD obsession prevents you from thinking about or concentrating on anything else whatsoever until it has been resolved, getting in the way of daily life.  Does your fear of germs prevent you from holding hands with your love interest?  This crosses a line.

You think the same thing or perform the same behavior repeatedly

Are you extremely fastidious about organizing your cabinets? So fastidious that you’ve done it three times since last week? Repeating behavior unnecessarily is more than a quirk.

You want to end your behavior, but can’t.

Plucking out your eyebrows and lashes (trichotillomania) and relentlessly picking scabs are just two examples of behavior you might wish you could stop but just can’t - and are likely signs of clinical OCD.

If any of these sound familiar, it’s time to seek professional help.  With the right support, you can learn to manage, live and even to thrive with OCD.


About Maggie Lamond Simone

Maggie Lamond Simone is an award-winning columnist and author. With two titles already to her name, her third book, Body Punishment: OCD, Addiction and Finding the Courage to Heal (Central Recovery Press) was released in April 2015. It traces Simone’s journey struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, and depression. Her writing has been featured in multiple publications and collections, including From Beer to Maternity (2009), Cosmopolitan MagazineThe Zen of Midlife Mothering (2013), Not Your Mother’s Book on Do-It-Yourselfers (2013), P.S. What I Didn’t Say (2009), and Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Resolution (2008).  Simone has been a guest on NPR and is a regular blog columnist for the Huffington Post. An an adjunct professor in the department of communications at SUNY Oswego and Onondaga Community College in Syracuse, she lives in Central New York with her husband and two children.

About Body Punishment

For as long as she can recall, Maggie Lamond Simone has been plagued by self-loathing and urges to harm herself physically while emotionally sabotaging her life. In Body Punishment:  OCD, Addiction and Finding the Courage to Heal (Central Recovery Press, April 2015), she reveals it all. The obsessive thoughts that drove her to cut, starve, pick, drink, pluck, purge, and otherwise hurt herself. The profound shame, the utter despair and the confusion over her own inner workings that prevented her from establishing stable, long-term goals and healthy relationships.  Through this poignant story of her painful, eye-opening journey she explores the issues of substance abuse, anxiety, and depression that commonly occur with OCD, all in an effort to further the dialogue around mental illness and eliminate the shame and help others find a way forward toward healing.