Quirks That Didn’t Make Sense Until I was Diagnosed with OCD

When I was a child I would often count how many steps it took to get across a room, or to a certain point in a room, or somewhere outside, like across a parking lot and would often try to make it across or to those certain points in a certain amount of steps . I even thought maybe if I accomplished this I would somehow have good luck or something, and if I did not, maybe something bad would happen. This continued as I aged. As a kid, I would often try to step over cracks so I did not break my mother’s back of course, and this also continued as I aged, even once I knew it would not really break her back. I have stepped on some before regardless and although she has a lot of back issues, it is not broken and I am pretty sure it is a combination of genes and her former job that caused the back issues, I hope anyways. These things are just a couple of the quirks I did not realize at first might be symptoms of obsessive compulsive disorder. At first, I thought everyone just did this.

I remember the day I went to my doctor, who also happens to have OCD, and was finally diagnosed. The truth is, this doctor had been trying to get me on medication and/or therapy for a while, but I had to hit rock bottom before I finally realized that or listened. By this point, it had gotten so severe postpartum that I did not want to live anymore, my husband had left and our marriage almost ended. I always joked about being OCD, like many often do, even some that truly are not and probably others like me, who do not realize they actually are yet. I liked things clean, I was obsessed with planners and I was a perfectionist, but these quirky things about me helped me finish college in only three years, start my first 401k at 21 and buy my first house at 22. I also became a manager by the time I was 25. I got pregnant at 25, had my daughter at 26, and by the time I was 28, the obsession over cleaning, planning and being perfect finally caught up to me. I was burnt out. As my doctor told me, some people who often excel with OCD when they are younger in school, find that marriage, parenting and careers are not often as easy to excel in. You cannot just study and get a perfect grade in any of them.

As I sat in the doctor’s office that day, I pointed out a chip in his counter and told him, that chip does not bother me because it is in his office, but if it were in a counter at my house I would be obsessing about it until it was fixed. You can imagine how many little repairs, chips, dings there probably are around your own house right now, around most houses right now. Imagine obsessing over all of them. Maybe you do or have like I did. My poor husband too, because if it was not something I could fix myself, I wanted him to like yesterday. Just as my doctor joked, my husband noticed by OCD medication was working before I even did. Ironically I have never obsessed the same way about dings on the outside of my car, although I do on the inside, probably due to looking at it more. I also love the inside of it to be clean and it starts to bother me when it is not, just like my house. My doctor suggested I watch the movie As Good As It Gets with Jack Nicholson and Helen Hunt. It had come out many years before, but I had never seen it. I watched it and I loved it, and I did relate to some of the main character’s quirks. I have never been grumpy all the time or the same type of socially awkward, although socially awkward in other ways nonetheless. I have never turned lights off and on repeatedly and I am not a germaphobe, but I stepped over cracks and have had other ritualistic behaviors that affect my personal and professional life.

I try to get the last drop of toothpaste or soap out of every bottle before I throw them away. It bothers me a little when more than one is open and in use and it feels like I accomplished something when I use one up, like I kept it from being wasted. Like Jack Nicholson’s character, I am an author and I was a perfectionist. I try not to be anymore and call myself a recovering one now, but my doctor told me something once I never realized was an OCD symptom. I knew perfectionism was. However, the way he worded it really struck me, he said when you feel like other people are always slacking, you are probably OCD. This one really struck a chord with me when it came to my professional life. I often felt others did not work as hard as me. Of course, I later realized a lot of this was I often killed myself for employers who would still get rid of you in a second if needed, and then resented it when I did not get the reward I felt I deserved. Meanwhile, others realized it was your personal life that was more important, and that there is a difference in being a good employee and being a doormat.

I also eventually realized this more in my personal life. Honestly, I am still working on this every day, especially in my professional life. It was honestly easier in my personal life where I have more control, but in my professional life, I often find myself tolerating things I would never tolerate personally just to keep a paycheck coming, even if for a little while. My husband and I both found more work life balance after having a child and that has continued to remain a priority any time a job change comes up as we age. Another symptom my doctor pointed out to me was when I sent him very long emails with little to no paragraphs. He jokingly wrote me a prescription with the paragraph symbol on it once and can tell I am doing better when I send him well paragraphed emails. My brother and others have often joked with me about talking in one run on sentence in person when I get excited. This often happens when I come back from a trip and have a lot to tell someone for instance. My daughter is the same way.

I often write emails or thoughts like that out now without sending or posting them. Sometimes I send or post them later once I have added paragraphs. Writing my thoughts out like that actually helped lead to my diagnosis, my books and my blogs. These days, I still get a little pleasure when I use up a soap bottle or some toothpaste, but not as bothered when I don’t, and I rarely find myself counting steps or stepping over cracks lately. I still like a clean house and car, but do not stress as much when they are not clean anymore. We have two dogs now so I even tolerate dog hair in both, which is of course worth it for the love those two give in return. They help reduce the anxiety my OCD causes probably even more than medication and therapy ever have.

Bio: Amanda Dodson Gremillion published her first book in 2012. She began revising it in 2019 and republished it as Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine. The story chronicles her experience with severe postpartum OCD, anxiety and depression. Amanda is a graduate of Auburn University, and now lives in Calera, Alabama, with her husband, Jay, their daughter, Aubrie, and their two dogs, Honey Girl and Cooper. She hopes to write more books in the future. Follow Amanda’s journey on Facebook,  or twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaGremilli2 and order her book here.  Also, follow her on the Mighty here Amanda Dodson Gremillion | The Mighty Contributor

The movie Marley & Me nailed it’s Depiction of Postpartum Depression

The movie Marley & Me was based on a book, which was based on a real life story, which I guess should make it no surprise that it’s depiction of Postpartum Depression was pretty accurate to me. If you have not seen the movie yet, it came out in 2008 so this blog contains some spoilers. I will also warn you, some may have a hard time watching it. It is one of my favorite movies, but there is a part that deals with pregnancy loss that may be hard for some, and it does follow Marley, a dog, to the end of his life, but I personally love a good tearjerker sometimes. As someone who experienced postpartum depression myself, it felt so good to relate to the main character Jennifer Anniston played. The postpartum depression part was probably only about 10 minutes of the movie, but that is part of my point. It was one thing that happened in their life. The way she acted during that time was not the person she was, it did not define her, but I could relate to her character the entire movie. 

She was a planner, and had her whole life planned out early on, but later in life realizes, as I have, that it is the things you don’t plan that end up being the best parts of life. She wanted to have kids, she wanted to get married, she loved children and animals and was a sweet person, but after she has her second child, and is overwhelmed, she seems filled with rage. In one scene, she finally gets the baby and toddler both down to sleep, then she hears the trash man coming and knows the dog is about to start barking and wake them up. He does, and she loses it. I could totally relate, and was so relieved to see such a realistic view of postpartum depression I had not seen before, except in my own life. Her husband did not understand what happened to his former wife, until his boss suggested it might be postpartum depression. He now dreaded coming home and when he mentions the postpartum depression to her, at first, she gets angry and defensive, a normal reaction for many. 

They later have a heart to heart where she opens up about how much she had to give up to be a mom and a wife. Earlier in the movie, she was having more success than her husband when it came to their careers, but eventually she wanted to stay home with the kids, and gave it all up for her family. Her husband eventually became more and more successful, and he often started to wonder what he was missing out on as well at times, as he had a single friend who was always traveling and always with different women. One day he realizes how good he has it though, and realizes that his single friend is actually jealous of what he has. Even her husband in the movie reminded me a lot of my husband. Even though she chose being a wife and mother, she sometimes missed all she gave up too, which is normal of course, and she and her husband both admit not realizing how hard it would be sometimes. 

I personally was not able to stay at home, but at one point in my marriage, I was the breadwinner. My spouse and I have kind of taken turns in that over the years. Once we had a small child, and both of us were trying to be managers, I chose to step down from management because it was just too hard. My husband eventually changed jobs to one with much more work life balance too, even though it was still a management position, but somehow he ended up making even more than he did before and having more growth opportunities, which honestly made me a little jealous. However, I still do not regret the choice I made. When I changed jobs, my daughter was just starting school, and having a job with more work life balance allowed me to go on field trips with her, help with a class Christmas party and be involved in so many other things I would have missed otherwise. 


In the movie, it goes from showing the wife and husband talking things out, and joking no more kids for a while, to years later when they have another kid and they are all in a much better place. Kind of like the movie The Notebook, where they do not show you how they go from passionate young lovers to dying together in their 90’s, they do not show you how they got from that one point to the other, because it is a movie, and from experience I can tell you, they cannot fit all that into one movie.

Bio: Amanda Dodson Gremillion published her first book in 2012. She began revising it in 2019 and republished it as Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine. The story chronicles her experience with severe postpartum OCD, anxiety and depression. Amanda is a graduate of Auburn University, and now lives in Calera, Alabama, with her husband, Jay, their daughter, Aubrie, and their two dogs, Honey Girl and Cooper. She hopes to write more books in the future. Follow Amanda’s journey on Facebook,  or twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaGremilli2 and order her book here.  Also, follow her on the Mighty here Amanda Dodson Gremillion | The Mighty Contributor

Mental Illness in the Movies

Earlier today, I took my daughter to see a movie called Words on Bathroom Walls. I will try to avoid spoilers. It was our first time in the theater since COVID-19. That theater is more spaced out than most anyways due to being a dine in with reclining heated seats, but they also seated at only 40 percent capacity and required masks when you were not eating and drinking. Refills were temporarily gone and self serve drinks were as well, but otherwise your normal movie going experience, which I have missed. I am not schizophrenic myself, so I cannot say from personal experience how accurate the experience of someone who has it was represented in the movie. I figure they did their research though, and as someone who suffers from a different mental illness, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, which also causes Anxiety, I absolutely love that this movie portrayed someone with a mental illness in such a relatable way.  I personally did not know, and still do not a ton about schizophrenia, but I definitely think I learned a lot from the movie.

The movie we saw was one of those teenage romantic movies my daughter and I usually enjoy watching together. I honestly do not know if I have ever seen a movie about someone with such a serious mental illness from their perspective. Not only that, one that had a girlfriend, went to high school and tried his best to lead a normal life, and to even become a chef. When I think of other movies related to this mental illness, I think of horror movies, or shows and movies where the person has to be locked up in a mental institute for their safety and the safety of others. The movie brought me to tears a couple of times I admit. That is not hard to do for me though honestly, but it was so moving. There are many people in my family with different mental illnesses. I honestly judged some of them harshly before I realized I had one myself. I felt some used it as an excuse, and I honestly still feel this way about some.

Some people think I might do the same or have done the same, but for me, it was never about finding an excuse, it was about finding a cause and figuring out the solution. My family doctor has known me since I was 11 or 12, so he knows as soon as I leave his office, I am going to research whatever we just discussed and that I am a problem solver. When I realized I had severe postpartum depression about 10 years ago though, and tried to get better, this is when I also realized I also had OCD and Anxiety. I also eventually realized, this was not something you could simply cure. Like in the movie, there is no cure for schizophrenia. They hope there is one day, and in the mean time there are medications, and possibly other things that can help, but even the best medications have horrible side effects. Maintaining good mental health for me is a constant challenge. I have taken medicine for years now, in addition to other things, but I do have to change types of medicine or dosage every so often when they eventually become less effective. I also often have to deal with side effects at times. Like in the movie, sometimes these side effects may not seem as bad as what happens when you do not take the medicine, but they can still be life altering. In the movie, they make his dream career more challenging to pursue.

The character does not give up though, and I love that I could relate to him. Instead of using my mental illness as an excuse, I try to let it drive me to try even harder than most people, but it has caused many challenges at times, including in my career. Often, in movies and TV people with mental illness are portrayed as attention seeking or lazy, or as takers, and they are also often portrayed as harming people, when most people with mental illness do not. You do sometimes really see some of this in real life, but that is not the majority. Some of the most giving, hardest working, kindest people have mental illness. Mental healthy and physical health are both so important, but like it is pointed out in the movie, everyone gives you attention and sympathy when you have cancer, but often mental illness is met with the opposite reaction, even though the person did not choose to have it.

Like cancer, sometimes people can overcome mental illness, but know it might return. Sometimes people beat it and then it comes back, and sometimes they spend the rest of their life fighting it continuously or off and on, trying to live as normal of a life as they can. Being around a physically or mentally ill personal can both be depressing, and depression and some other mental illnesses can seem to be contagious, almost like physical illness. Being around a depressed person can be depressing, but when it comes to physical illness, we do not use that as an excuse to abandon the person and make them fight the illness alone. I really hope one day mental illness will be viewed the same as physical illness, and I think movies like this are getting us closer to that.

Bio: Amanda Dodson Gremillion published her first book in 2012. She began revising it in 2019 and republished it as Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine. The story chronicles her experience with severe postpartum OCD, anxiety and depression. Amanda is a graduate of Auburn University, and now lives in Calera, Alabama, with her husband, Jay, their daughter, Aubrie, and their two dogs, Honey Girl and Cooper. She hopes to write more books in the future. Follow Amanda’s journey on Facebook,  or twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaGremilli2 and order her book here.  Also, follow her on the Mighty here Amanda Dodson Gremillion | The Mighty Contributor

It Feels So Good To Be Seen

It feels so good to feel seen. What do I mean? When I watch the show This Is Us, and I relate so much to the character Randall, I feel seen. When one of the most popular shows on television shows what it feels like to have a panic attack and anxiety, I feel seen. When it shows how someone who seems to be so perfect and have it together, could truly fall apart at any minute from trying so hard to be perfect, I feel seen. When Randall’s dad asks him as a little boy, if he can just be a good boy because his siblings are already giving his mom and dad so much trouble, I feel seen.

When I was in my early twenties, I pinched a nerve in my shoulder falling down the stairs. At first I had trouble getting help or relief.  No one wanted to perform surgery on someone so young. I eventually found a physical therapist who helped me with my pain. When I had my wisdom teeth taken out, it made my pain worse somehow. I told this to the orthodontist who did my surgery at my one week check up. His response was, “We drilled a hole in your bone, you are going to hurt.” I went to the car and cried. I then made an appointment with that same physical therapist who had been helping me. I told him what happened, he instantly explained what was wrong, did a chiropractic adjustment and I felt instant relief. I felt seen.

Since that injury, I have grown to love massage. When the massage therapist seems to find all the places I have knots, and feels them and works on trying to make them go away, I feel seen. Sometimes, that is all people need, is to just feel seen. For so long I did not feel seen at all. I was in so much pain, but no one seemed to see it. In retrospect, they all see it now. Of course, I was trying so hard to hide it, is one reason they did not see it. I did not speak up is why they did not see it. Some were dealing with their own pain is why they did not see it.

When I went to physical therapy and got massages, I was finally asking for and getting help, and being seen. When I was at my lowest point in my severe postpartum depression many years ago, because my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Anxiety were at their worst ever, I do not recall seeing shows or stories all around me that I related to, that made me feel seen. I do recall one time though.

I was once watching One Tree Hill. The mother of one of the main character’s had died, and she was depressed. She jumped into the pool and floated to the bottom and her husband jumped in and rescued her. In another part of the show, she was sitting at their piano and knocked down a candle and just sat there as it started to burn everything around her, until her husband rescued her again. I remember watching and thinking that I could relate to that character, and the fact I could was not a good thing.

It was not too long after this I got help, but I wish there had been more moments like this earlier. Some people like to keep this stuff personal or think it should be, maybe some are ashamed, but I share my story as much I do because I do want it to be all over the internet and TV. I want people to feel seen and to know they are not going through pain alone, because it feels so good to be seen.

Bio: Amanda Dodson Gremillion published her first book in 2012. She began revising it in 2019 and republished it as Just Buy Her A Dress and She’ll Be Fine. The story chronicles her experience with severe postpartum OCD, anxiety and depression. Amanda is a graduate of Auburn University, and now lives in Calera, Alabama, with her husband, Jay, their daughter, Aubrie, and their two dogs, Honey Girl and Cooper. She hopes to write more books in the future. Follow Amanda’s journey on Facebook,  or twitter at https://twitter.com/AmandaGremilli2 and order her book here.  Also, follow her on the Mighty here Amanda Dodson Gremillion | The Mighty Contributor