Wednesday, November 16, 2011

My OCD looks like this

I want to tell you how obsessive-compulsive disorder has manifested in my life.
I go through periods when certain symptoms rear their ugly heads and I have to deal with them again. Then they change. But vestiges of all of them remain even as I grow older.
You may see yourself in this list. It still blows my mind that other people have had the same obsessions and compulsions that I have had. I used to think I was uniquely weird and wrong.
You will also see that the underlying anxiety in a lot of these symptoms is a need to get things right. Not perfect, but right. And only a feeling of rightness will alleviate the anxiety and the compulsive actions.
Here are some of the symptoms I have experienced at some point in my life since I was a little girl. There are more, but this is an overview to give you a picture of what my OCD looks like.
  • Obsessed with sins I committed and the need for forgiveness from God. Along with that, obsessed about being “saved” in the fundamentalist Christian way. Compulsively prayed over and over to be forgiven and saved, then doubted that I got the prayer right.
  • Obsessed with germs that might be on me and with the chance that I could spread them to others and hurt them. Compulsively washed my hands until they were red and raw, not wanting to touch doorknobs, not wanting my lips to touch a fork or spoon that someone else had washed.
  • Obsessed with counting. Compulsively counted the letters on signs, the steps on staircases, other objects, trying to make the count come out in threes.
  • Obsessed with the cleanliness of bathrooms. Compulsively cleaned, taking hours sometimes to clean a small bathroom. I didn’t want anyone else to use my bathroom.
  • Obsessed that I hadn’t read, with attention, the whole page in a book. Compulsively read and reread the page before I could turn to another page.
  • Obsessed that I had hit someone with my car. Compulsively drove back and forth on the street, looking for a possible body.
  • Obsessed that the stove was still on after cooking something. Compulsively turned the knobs on and off and stared at them, for hours, until I felt right about them being off.
  • Obsessed with objects I saw lying on the ground that might harm someone else walking by. Compulsively picked up bent wires, sticks, paper clips, rocks, etc. as I walked along.
  • Obsessed with responsibilities I had and the fear that I could cause harm if I didn’t do things right. Compulsively steered clear of responsibilities to others.
  • Obsessed that I left the lights on in the closet or bathroom, that they might get too hot and cause a fire. Compulsively checked, staring at light bulbs and lampshades until I knew they were dark, not lit.
Does any of this sound familiar?


  1. I knew I felt comfortable with you for a reason. I never thought too much about the things I do and the way I do them. I guess I figured everyone did them too.
    I also count everything. I need to take them to the lowest number. I count words on signs, not so much the letters.
    For me, everything needs to be square, or rectangular (anything with right angles, no triangles though).
    Things need to be in their place (and it is a specific place, placed a specific way). I can't go to bed or leave the house with dishes in the sink. It's like things need to stay in the box.
    I am a germ-a-phobe. But I guess I'm not too concerned about germing others as much as I don't want to be germed. I swear I can actually see the germs on surfaces. I keep hand sanitizer everywhere. I even carry indvidually wrapped purel sanitizer wipes with me. I open doors with my clothes, a papertowel, etc. I carry my own pen around the office. I don't allow anyone to use it, and I don't use anyone elses. If by chance I can't control that, like the boss wanting to use it, I touch very little of it and take it back to my office and use the wipes on it.
    I can tell your OCD is more severe than mine, and I hope you can make peace with it. I look at mine as fun, it feels like a game to me. I do get upset when things aren't like my brain thinks they should be, but with age I have learned that life goes on. I am who I am. I am the way God made me. He loves the way I am, so since I am not nearly as perfect as He is, I am at peace knowing He made me this way for a reason.
    I also have many more OCD peculiar habits and have been treated for depression also, but maybe that's for another day. I wouldn't want to wear out my welcome.
    I love you Tina. Keep smiling, keep praying, and keep being you. Remember, you were made that way for a reason. :)

  2. Some of the things you say you do are so me, I had to laugh. I pull my sleeve down if I am wearing long sleeves to open doors--even the refrigerator door! Or I use my elbow to get the door moving. And I like to keep my pen to myself too. Thank you for your encouragement!

  3. Sooo much of this sounds familiar, and brings back memories of my own. In my blog I did an evolution of my OCD piece (3 parts) in which I tried to chronicle most of my obsessions. I too used to fear hitting people with my car, and I would drive down a road several times to make sure I didn't. It was worse if I had to drive around a corner, I was convinced I didn't see a person standing on a corner and I hit them. I was always certain someone would report my car for a hit-and-run.

    I too have obsessions revolving around hot things... Candles, stoves, hairdryers, irons (thats a big one) and lights...

    It is so interesting how OCD sufferers have many of the same themes. It's fascinating, yet makes us feel not so alone. That's why I love blogging so much, this community we have here is so supportive and is filled with people who "get us."

    Looking forward to reading more from you... :)


  4. The symptoms I have the same or similar to you are:

    * Counting things and multiples of numbers;
    * Reading pages, sentences or specific words, and 'printing' marks on the pages of books;
    * The cooker/stove's knobs being off.

    I also have many others that are not mentioned too. It is a bizarre thing that many OCD sufferers experience the same or similar symptoms but it is a comforting thought to know that we are not alone.

    I second what Lolly says above about the blogging community - The supportive comments and similar experiences of OCD bloggers help us all to fight back, and to stay strong and positive.

  5. Lolly and OCD anonymous--It just amazes me how something that seems like such an individual problem--thinking you've hit someone with your car, or checking the stove or iron over and over--can be so rampant among those of us who have OCD. Blogging helps me feel connected. Thank you for your comments!

  6. Yes, every single thing you said sounds familiar. I have every manifestation you wrote about plus some!

  7. Hi, yesterday I posted my comment on ur first post abt counting..thanks for your reply..I am feeling so relaxed after reading this post too..guess I will read all of your posts.
    I have the same reading ocd..and writing ocd. I.e my hand do not work when I started writing in my exams..I lost many exams, I cudnt complete my graduation :-(
    I don't want to write my name ..but soon . As I am afraid that Google can track my identity..and I believe that...don't mind..thanks... :-) but I am very creative thinker..everyone appreciate that. all of us are.. ;-)

    1. Thank you for commenting! I'm sorry you suffer from OCD. It's not fun, is it? But there are things we can do to combat it. I hope you are able to look into therapy. It has really helped me.


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