Friday, July 10, 2009

OCD History, Part One

My OCD started up in the summer of 1997, when I was 25. While a lot of people have symptoms of OCD as children, it's also apparently pretty common for it to hit people in the early twenties. Weird. For me, it seems to have been related to my first serious relationship, I think both because I was now exposed to another person's germs on a regular basis, and I had another person to feel responsible for.

While many people's OCD takes extremely different forms over time, mine has been very very consistent. My OCD takes the form of a mild version of "checking," mostly doors and the stove before I leave for work or go to bed at night.

But my main OCD has always been "contamination" OCD. I hate being touched, hate being around sick people, have trouble with public bathrooms. I always want to inspect things before I touch them or sit on them, and (have the urge to) wash my hands about 50 times a day. OCD's quirky, though, because while the sterotype of OCD is the person who takes a 2 hour shower, I don't even shower every day. And when I do, my showers are about 7 minutes long. Just a simple hand wash is all it takes to make me feel better. It's just that sometimes those simple handwashes have to happen every 10 minutes. Suddenly it's not so simple.

But I don't stop there. I often try to make other people I'm around wash their hand more than they'd like, too. For some reason, people don't like that. Go figure.

And, add to that what I call the "OCD Cascade." It goes something like this:
-I didn't wash my hands after riding the bus
-I'm sure to get a cold, or a stomach flu, or disease x from all the germs I touched on the bus
-I will give it to my coworker who's about to go on vacation
-She will be sick on her vacation and will attribute it to me
-She will hate me
-She will give me a bad peer review
-I will be fired.

WOW!! My rational brain can see it's silly, but there's a part of me that really believes that not only is it possible, but that it's LIKELY.

Next, a little bit about my past attempts at overcoming my OCD.

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