You always hear about famous people who grew up with learning disorders. Richard Branson and Charles Schwab were dyslexic. Einstein probably had Asperger’s, a mild form of autism. Bill Gates too. Howard Stern and a host of celebrities have struggled with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

Well, here’s something that will blow your mind. I have a deep, dark secret that I’ve never told anyone, not even my wife of 25 years. Until yesterday, that is.

We were sipping margaritas at our favorite Mexican restaurant last night when I said, “You know I have OCD, right?”

“Um … no,” she said. She looked at me like I’d just grown a second head.

“Well, I do. Or I did … sort of,” I said. “Had a nasty case of it growing up. Not so much anymore.”

“How is it I’m just hearing this now?” she asked.

“Guess it just never came up,” I said, grinning.

I thought it was funny. She didn’t exactly see it that way. No sense of humor, that woman.

My OCD wasn’t diagnosed, mind you. I’m not even sure it was a thing back then. Besides, I had no idea why I was the way I was or that I was different than anyone else. All I knew was that I had all these rituals. And one of them was to keep them secret. So I did. I never told a soul.

What was OCD like? I had to do almost everything a certain way or in a certain order. I would walk around all day reciting random phrases or lines from songs over and over in my head. I still do some of that stuff, but it’s so much a part of me that I don’t even notice anymore.

For example, I do most things in even numbers. Sometimes I’ll take a break from working and go for a run to clear my head, and suddenly realize I spent the last 15 or 20 minutes repeating a single refrain to myself. And I literally cannot walk off a basketball court if I missed my last shot. Someday I’ve got to try that and see what happens.

I’m apparently quite adept at keeping all that to myself. Sometimes it makes it harder to be in the moment, but I think it also helps me focus when I need to. I’m actually not really sure how much different I am than anyone else. After all, I’ve only been inside one person’s head. Mine.

Now that it’s come up, here’s the thing. People have a nasty way of obsessing over their issues to the point where it holds them back. The problem is, that’s a self-fulfilling loop. If you feel ashamed or deny them, they will hold you back. Or you can make them work for you, and they will work for you. It’s your choice. And yes, it is a choice.

We’re all human. On the one hand, we’re all the same: flesh and blood, that sort of thing. And yet, nobody is perfect. There’s no such thing. We’re defined by what makes us unique. Some of those distinct attributes are called gifts, some are called disorders, but they’re all what make you, well, you. There’s no shame in that. There’s no denying that.

So there it is. Do I feel any different now that I’ve revealed this deep dark secret? Nope. I’m just me. And I’m good with that. So just be you. And be good with that.

Image credit Warner Bros.