Note: My blogging friend Rebecca Lane Beittel recently did a week’s worth of posts on her blog “Rebecca of Tomorrow” using the five senses. She invited readers to consider the examples of sounds, tastes, textures, etc. that she provided and choose their favorites.
With a nod and thanks to Rebecca, I’m using the theme of the five senses to connect my five posts this week. With each day’s topic, I’ll focus on one of the senses. Today’s is touch.
When I was in high school, I loved basketball. I loved watching college basketball on TV and dreamed of the day when I would be attending the University of Virginia and would be able to see games in person at University Hall.
In high school, I played basketball for two seasons, my ninth and tenth grades. I was not a good player. I spent a lot of time warming the bench.
That said, I did practice, even without a ball. Our house had a long hallway that went almost the entire length of the house and ended in the kitchen. I’d pretend to be dribbling down the hall (real balls not allowed) and then I’d do a lay-up at the doorway into the kitchen.
What I was really doing was finding a new way to cover up a habit I had. I had to touch the top of the doorframe before I could enter the kitchen.
My “lay-up” was a chance to tap the top of the doorframe.
I don’t remember when I started the tapping, and I didn’t have a particular harm obsession connected with it. In other words, I didn’t think anything specific would happen if I didn’t tap the doorframe. But I didn’t feel “right” and felt anxious if I didn’t do it.
It eventually spread to all the doors within the house—I had to tap the top of the doorframe once before entering a room.
The doorframe touching stopping mostly after I started taking medication for the OCD, but I think ERP would definitely work with that, too.
The odd thing is that if I do happen to touch the top of the doorframe now—for example, I may be standing and talking with my husband and grab the frame with my hands over my head—I can see how easy it would be to get back to the compulsion. So I try not to touch it.
My checking compulsions also involve some touching. At times, I become obsessed with whether or not the light switch is “really” turned off. I fear that I’ll leave it halfway between on and off and it will cause an electrical short and a fire will erupt.
I have to use one finger, usually the forefinger of my right hand, to turn off a light switch. It has to feel a certain way—not too light of a touch and not too heavy—or I have to turn the switch back on and off. There is no set number of times I have to do this. I have to do it until the light switch feels off in the “right” way.
I have to pull out the “Brain Lock” and exposure and response prevention tools to fight this light switch compulsion. I have to make myself turn the switch off once and then walk away and concentrate on something else. It’s hard, but not impossible.
Do you have any touching OCD symptoms? If so, what are they and how do you manage them?