I wake up in the morning and the first thought coming into my mind is:
– what if I did something terrible while I was sleeping and I’m not even aware of it? The list of things that I could have done during my sleep is absolutely endless: I could have harmed someone, I could have stolen something, who knows?
And obviously, this intrusive thought wouldn’t just let me alone: no way, I need to check if everything is okay at home and sometimes (not everyday) I need to check the news: because then, who knows, I may have been sleepwalking and I may have done something insane that I’d not be proud of.
Now this would be totally justified if I were a sleepwalker, but I am not. I am suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder – and one of the main characteristics of OCD is doubt. You know that you do not want to do certain things and to be honest you also know that you’ll never do any of those things that your intrusive thoughts are suggesting to you, but you always doubt yourself and you keep asking yourself: what if….?
Then it carries on: having your morning coffee is not always simply. First of all: you shouldn’t even be having your morning coffee because caffeine can actually make your OCD symptoms worse, but then everyone has their own guilty pleasures. Mine is coffee.
So having your morning coffee wouldn’t be scary on it’s own, but then one thing you always need to check is whether you actually turned the coffee machine off – what if you haven’t done so and your home will catch fire? And what if someone gets hurt because of that? Let’s not even think about that.
Yet, every morning I need to check a couple of times if I have really turned it off. You never know, do you?
Next thing I usually do is putting my contact lenses in. While putting them in, the first question that usually comes into my mind: what if I accidentally blind myself – or even worse, what if I do that intentionally?
I have already overcome that fear so that’s okay. But then the story is still not over.
What if I did not put my lenses in the right way?
I have anisometropia, meaning that one of my eyes is stronger than the other ones. So obviously, I need to check a couple of times (until it feels right) whether I have managed to put my lenses in properly.
Leaving home: the most difficult part. And a pretty well-known obsession – I do not think that this will surprise any of you: I need to check a couple of times if the door is locked.
This compulsion started a few years back and at that time, it used to be enough for me to check it like 3-4 times, but over the years, it’s been getting worse and worse, so nowadays I need to check if the door is locked at least 10 times – and sometimes that also includes walking away from the door and going back to check it once more. This is very embarrassing and I guess my neighbors think that I’m totally loco.
Then, I usually take the tube to go to work. Sometimes I need to go back home to check once more if my door is properly locked, but fortunately that’s not too common. Let’s say it happens only once per week.
Now the tube is one more obstacle: my Pure O is torturing me and makes me think: what if I threw myself under a tube train? Do not get me wrong, I do not want to do that. But the “Pure O monster” would never be okay with me telling him that I do not want to do it…cause it’ll keep asking me questions …that usually start with “what if”?
So, I usually prefer staying as far from the platform edge as possible – you never know, right?
Finally, I arrive to my workplace and thanks for God, usually nothing particular happens when I’m in there. One of the techniques that I use for keeping my OCD under control is keeping myself as busy as possible. We could say I’m a workoholic – I may actually be one – but this is another topic.
Even though life at work is pretty much like a safe zone for me, the intrusive thoughts wouldn’t leave me alone: so I obviously need to check at least 3 times if the e-mails I’ve written are okay, I need to check sometimes whether my contact lenses are still in. A weird compulsion that I usually have during the flu season is that I keep checking if I have fever – not if checking it would make any difference if I actually had fever, but then it’s just something I have to do. At least a positive thing is that we do not have flu season all over the year.
Then obviously, sometimes I’m afraid of fainting because that’d be an embarrassing to do in front of your co-workers – this could actually give me a minor panic attack but I’m trying to control it.
Now a typical day usually ends at the bar at the corner. I’m a very social person and I have a lot of friends – that helps me a lot, cause my other way of handling OCD is that I just simply try to ignore it completely and try to get away from it as far as possible. So keeping yourself busy can actually help. Obviously, one needs to face ones fears but OCD shouldn’t take over your life – so my suggestion to everyone who’s suffering from OCD is to go out as many times as they can. 🙂
So, what happens at the bar?
It really depends on the day. Sometimes my OCD leaves me alone – sometimes it’s taking over me.
One thing that I absolutely dislike is when people tell me their secrets. I’m very good at keeping them, but on the other hand, the little Pure O monster often starts whispering random stuff into my ears:
– what if you tell someone about their secrets – and then it carries on – I know you think you do not want to tell it to anyone, but what if you actually want to tell their secrets to others or…what if it just accidentally happens?
I usually let this thought go away pretty quickly, but that doesn’t always help cause the next one is waiting in the queue: what if someone else who knows about their secrets tells other people and then your friend will think that it was you?
Now that is a much scarier one: it’s something you just can not control.
Usually, this intrusive thought wouldn’t force me to do any compulsive thing, but then another little monster is waiting for me at the toilet (alright, I knooow, this sounded kind of creepy, but you see what I mean: GERMS). So, after using the bar’s bathroom, I must (yes, must is the best word to describe the feeling) wash my hands a couple of times – there’s no specific number for this, it’s just…until it feels right. Depends on the day.
Getting home is usually pretty safe. There’s one more thing that I do not know if it’s linked to OCD or not (probably need to ask a therapist – I’ll let you know once I got the answer), but I just need to have a phone call with someone before I enter my home – If I do not do that, I have the feeling that something terrible might happen. So, I usually smoke a couple of cigarettes and talk on the phone before entering my home. This could take an hour – or two.
During the day, I like keeping myself busy, but then the scariest part of the day is when I get home and go to sleep. As you may have noticed (based on my previous posts), I’m single so I’m not sharing my bed with anyone – which means that Pure O’s most active period is the one when I’m trying to fall asleep.
So a storm of all kind of thoughts is on the way:
I usually ask myself whether I’m good enough at what I’m doing – my job is pretty important to me so I constantly worry about losing it and this makes me check all positive feedback that I received in the past – just to make sure I was good enough. So I need to check the feedback a few times, until it just feels right.
Another intrusive thought is my extreme worry about not being able to buy a flat on my own (that’s extremely important in our culture, not sure if it’s the same in yours – please feel free to share in the comment section). So this can force me to look at flats for sale – for hours and hours. Do not get me wrong, I do not actually have the money to buy one, it’s more like a magical thought: if I check it enough times, I may end up having money to purchase a house or flat. Completely illogical, I know, but well, OCD is not famous for being the most logical thing on earth.
Finally, a very last one that often keeps me awake at night: the feeling of guilt. What If I’m not grateful enough for everything I have (at the end of the day, my life is pretty good) and I feel that I’m a bad person and feel very guilty for having wasted so much money on myself (yes, next to all of this, I am also a big spender – a shopaholic, you might say – just to make things even worse.)
The last thing that I do everyday, before falling asleep is:
– checking if the alarm is set. Not only once, but at least 3 times – and on 2 different phones.
I’ve always been a night owl and it’s very difficult for me to get up early in the morning. So then you can never know, if you are unable to get up in the morning, you’ll not be able to get to work on time so they’ll fire you and then you’ll not have money so ….you’ll even become homeless and…I think those who are suffering from OCD can carry on completing the rest of this.
So: this is the story of my life. Every day is different, but the one I have described above is a pretty average one. I obviously didn’t want to share all of the details because what if I won’t be able to publish any more posts after that? I wouldn’t want that because I love sharing my stories with people. And I hope you like reading them.
Please share your personal stories in the comment section because there’s one thing I love doing more than sharing my stories: reading yours! 🙂