Have you ever been afraid of accidentally putting someone in danger?
Well, worrying about others is absolutely normal. But people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder take these worries to a new level.
Lately, I’ve been spending some time on Reddit and reading other people’s stories about “Responsibility OCD” reminded me to an obsession that used to give me a lot of sleepless nights. This is what I’ll write about in today’s post. And why do I think that having OCD is like being in the prison of your own mind? Read my story, and you’ll understand!
OCD, the bottle of champagne and Reese’s
The obsession that I’m going to talk about started on a beautiful Friday night. I’ve always been a very social and out-going person, so my Friday nights are usually about going out with friends and having a couple of drinks. So on the night when my obsession started, my friends and me went to my city’s “party district” – it’s a place full of so-called “ruin bars” (bars that are built in the ruins of abandoned buildings in the old Jewish Quarter). We wanted to make sure that we’d have enough drinks so we decided to buy a huge bottle of champagne at a supermarket and we were drinking it while walking to our final destination.
Now, buying a bottle of champagne is not something unusual – but getting that particular bottle of champagne was a decision that I’d regret for a long long time.
The first mistake we did made was overestimating the distance between the supermarket and the bar where we were going to.
Unfortunately, we had not had enough time to finish off a whole bottle of champagne and as it was very cold outside we really did not want to stand at the corner and drink. So we decided to leave our half full bottle of champagne on a bench. Here, I’d like to ask everyone not to judge me for doing that: the nightlife in my city often gets very crazy which means that there’s always someone who’ll want to finish off a bottle of drink they find on a random bench. So at the end of the day, we just wanted to be nice.
But things do not always work out the way you thought they would. Especially if you have OCD. The beginning of the night was pretty nice: chatting, drinking and having fun – exactly what you’d want your Friday night to look like. However, OCD is a kind of monster that one can never escape from.
I normally imagine my OCD as a kind of ugly monster who whispers irrational things (intrusive thoughts) into my ears and that’s exactly what that terrible beast did on that night. It wanted to remind me of the bottle of champagne we’d left on the bench.
Wait a sec….what does it have to do with OCD? At the first glance, nothing at all: but believe me, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is very creative and it’s capable of creating new, shocking obsessions out of insignificant things. And I ate Reese’s (love them) right before drinking from that bottle of champagne.
Okay, Mark went nuts. At this point, I guess many of my readers are like: now, what is this weirdo guy talking about?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder….a bottle of champagne left on a bench and Reese’s?
But let me tell you what my inner OCD voice was telling me: so you ate Reese’s – which are full of peanut butter – and then, you were drinking from that bottle of champagne and finally you decided to leave it on a bench so that someone would take it and finish it off.
But what if the person who finds it is allergic to peanuts?
What if that poor person is allergic to peanuts?
And you will be the one to blame for that! If someone dies, that will be your fault! Totally your fault!
So what do you think I did? Obviously, I ran out of the bar to check if the bottle of champagne was still on the bench. And of course it was not. Are you kidding? Friday night in the party district? Guess it disappeared a few seconds after we left.
And the disappearance of this bottle of champagne meant the start of a new obsession.
Someone having an anaphylactic shock because of me was not the only thing I was afraid of, but my OCD came up with an endless list of disturbing possibilities:
Let’s say, the person who finds it is not allergic to peanuts. (I checked a few statistics to see how many people have peanut allergy and I tried to convince myself that it’s extremely unlikely that the person who picked up our drink was suffering from peanut allergy)
But another what if question soon appeared:
What if someone put laxatives into the bottle? (You know, there’s always that person who thinks such things are funny.) And then, the person who took the bottle of champagne could be allergic to laxatives! Or both to laxatives and to peanuts!
Or even worse: what if someone put poison into it? It’s EXTREMELY unlikely but it can happen, can it not? And if it happens, I will not only be responsible for someone’s death but I will be in a big trouble.
A storm of “what if” questions, doubt, guilt, fear of uncertainty.
By the end of the night, I checked all allergy statistics available on the internet, all Budapest news and I guess my friends would have preferred running away from me because I’d ask them at least 10 times an hour what they thought about this whole situation: you know, the typical reassurance seeking – guess most of OCD sufferers are way too familiar with it.
And this obsession went on for a couple of weeks. Feeling of guilt, constant doubt, thousands of Google searches and hundreds of phone calls with friends.
How did this obsession go away?
It appeared suddenly, out of nowhere. And it took time to get rid of it, but it got gradually better and better.
One thing that particularly helped me was understanding the way OCD works. Something that I just call the “OCD cycle”.
Check out this article to learn more about it: http://over-coming-ocd.com/2019/12/27/ocd-how-to-break-the-vicious-cycle/
What did I learn from this obsession?
- You may not be able to stop having intrusive thoughts but the harder you fight against having them, the more likely they come back.
- OCD has a lot of different faces and compulsions are not always easy to recognize.
- Try not to rely on others: it’s very tempting to seek reassurance from your loved ones but it’s something that you can not do 24/7. It’s very difficult to stop doing it but if you get used to it, it’ll be even more difficult for you to cope with your anxiety when they’re not around.
- Never ever leave a bottle of champagne on a bench: okay, avoiding certain situations will not help your OCD, but at the end of the day, leaving a half full bottle of alcoholic drink on a bench is not an okay thing to do.
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Please share your OCD stories in the comment section!
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