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by Rissa Roo

This story is part of our blog series called “Stories from the OCD Community.”  Stories from the community are submitted and edited by Toni Palombi. If you are interested in sharing your story you can view submission details at www.iocdf.org/ocd-stories.

While my mom and I were in a beauty parlor, the beautician told my mom that her facials take longer than normal because she is a “perfectionist.”

My mom motioned toward me, “My daughter’s like that too.” When she looked over at me and saw my annoyance, my mom quickly added, “Well you are, we all have our little tics.”

I was annoyed that my mom was sharing details about my personal life with strangers. I was also annoyed because I felt that the beautician was using her idea of perfectionism as a selling tactic. I wanted to say that having obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) was not what this person was referring to, and it is certainly not the same as having “little tics.”

Originally, I planned to use this story to write about how we could be more understanding of people’s conditions and not minimize what others are going through (which is what I felt my mom was doing). Then I realized there are many more important takeaways from this story.

First, I could be wrong about the beautician; she may also struggle with OCD.

Secondly, while I felt my mom was minimizing my condition, I could have appreciated that she didn’t see it as shameful to mention I had tics. It’s really rather encouraging that she saw a beautiful young woman who clearly applied herself to her work and thought she had something in common with her daughter.

Both of these routes would have had the effect of making me feel just as human and flawed as the next person.

However, the most important thing I learned from this interaction was: the importance of forgiveness.

I need to forgive my mother for not understanding exactly what if feels like to live with OCD, after all – how could she? Instead of feeling frustrated by my mom’s comment, I am committed to finding joy in the fact that she wasn’t ashamed of me and gratitude for the chance to spend the day shopping with my beautifully flawed mother who lives halfway across the country.

I am also committed to forgiving myself: for feeling annoyed, for compulsive skin picking, for checking the stove too many times, for worrying that I need to turn myself into the police for bumping a stranger on the train. I will never be perfect, nor will my mom, or the beautician, or anyone else for that matter. The sooner I can remember that, the sooner I can forgive myself for having OCD, which may be just what I need to beat it.


Rissa Roo works in the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. She has a love-hate relationship with public transportation and in her free time can be found biking, hiking, or reading the most eccentric book she can find.  


  • Christine Walker

    As the mother of a daughter with severe OCD I get that you were afraid she would tell your secret. She probably did think the beautician was giving a hint to her issue. Letting you both know you are not alone in your struggle. I also don’t think your mom was making light of your struggle , but would not dare to list all of your obsessions and compulsions and the struggle she probably has in helping you and not doing it wrong.

  • Steph

    I had a very similar experience with my mum last week. She said something about someone else’s ‘OCD’ when they don’t have OCD. I reacted defensively explaining how I felt I offended for her minimising my OCD. I want to work on my reactions and be able to forgive and educate rather than get angry and defensive. Still so raw and new to me though, still learning!


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