From the time of 12 I have been diagnosed as OCD. Yes, 12; some people find that hard to believe. Why, did you think it did not exist then and was a fairy tale in some lame kids book? HA. Prior to this, I really had no idea that mental health problems existed at all. So, when I was told this after a week-long worth of testing at the adolescent psych unit there it was. Coupled with depression which depression often comes with any mental illness, I was bewildered. Feeling alone among my peers , family, I was out of the box in society or so I felt then. Forever I felt I would be the outsider until I meet others at the treatment center that were other adolescents who had a wide range of mental health issues. There were people with anger issues, depression, a few girls with severe bulimia, anorexia, and other things I do not remember. Gee, at least I had these friends to get to know. Family would come and visit and really had no clue what was going on, they looked at me like I was an alien they never knew. Perhaps they meant well, but it did not make me feel better the looks I was given either unknowingly or deliberate with confusion. Something I have to point out to anyone who has a friend or family member confide in you their mental health issues, do not try to fix them. You cannot and will never do it. It is the way the brain is wired and inherited, then experiences in your life bring it out. Countless times did religious friends try to think they could fix me with prayer or church. IT DOES NOT WORK THAT WAY!!!!!! The science of medical care in mental health does not get prayed away from some superhero Evangelist who puts their hand on you at the front of the church and then you fall. NO, NO , NO. Complete delusion on your part if you think you can pray it away. You might as well been Storm from Marvel Comics the way you thought you could wave your hand and POOF; my brain chemistry is scrambled and now neurotypical. (Another post on religion and mental health will follow).
Luckily this all happened in the summer and not during the school year. I had finished my sixth grade year and was on vacation with family. It all started with watching a fish being gutted at a pond and it was all over. My mind obsessed night day over the horror over that. Following that was the strange obsessions, rituals, and ruminations that basically took over my life. Hell on Earth is saying it lightly. My well-educated mother was in tune with me and knew something was wrong. She canceled the trip, we all went home, and got me into seeing a psychiatrist. After that meeting, two days later I left for the Psych unit for Adolescents; which was the best visit ever for this. You are around all people your age group, get to do yoga, play racquet ball, play pinball games, and much more. Of course you work on your own issues, so to keep you busy , your actually in a school setting too. I thought the school stuff was lame and boring but at least I felt at ease.
My first panic attack I ever had come on like a sledge-hammer knocking me off a building and into a pit of slime. Literally came out of nowhere and I felt like no matter what I did , it would not go away. Thankfully , there was a team of trained professionals to guide you through it and educate you. You could say I had to grow up much earlier than other people my age in my hometown would ever realize. They had no idea what stress was really like. My only complaint is despite all the professionals in my life in a 26 year journey of mental health, NO ONE caught that I was ADD. Seriously, my life would have been a lot less of struggle. Even being in special education for eight years for a speech problem, THEY did not even catch it. That is Swartz Creek schools for you.
Let’s back up to leaving the unit. I really did not know what to do with myself after, other than take the Prozac I was given and see a therapist. I did all that dutifully, and just kept it a secret from any peer. School went fine all the way up til my first year of college but that is another story completely. Having OCD is not a fad and when you hear people say , “I am so OCD,” they are most likely full of shit. Who calls them out on it, yeah me. This is not your popular phrase to use for a time period out of fun or to get some jollies off of it. It can be a debilitating illness that will chew you up and spit you out. Now that I have said that, my problems with it have been little lately, and what I worry about goes in stages but it is always about small things. Never big life events , and those I handle like a pro. I won’t go into big detail on this because it is years and years of changes of what I ruminate over , obsess, or do rituals; that is ever-changing.
First, I might check several times that the doors are locked and the stove is off. I do this until I can actually leave the house. They call this the checking ritual, it can involve any object really, and you do not stop until everything feels just right and fulfilled. This can really go on for hours for some people, luckily through specialized therapy I learned how to combat this and break it. The rituals alone can ruin your work life left untreated. As for obsessions and ruminations, imagine a record player playing 24 hours a day with the same five thoughts or more over and over and over. It can get so bad that you cannot sleep, and you feel like jumping out of an airplane thinking you can reset your mind. I guarantee once you land, and if you live, it will still be there. Hell, it would probably haunt you all the way down. hahahaha.
There has been one aspect that is so stereotypical of OCD ; because there is so much more to OCD, is germs. This has never left me. For example, I will not touch public doorknobs AT ALL. Detesting public bathrooms, I carry a small can of lysol, clorex wipes, Yankee candle air freshener, and will not touch things in the bathroom without a kleenex for example. I do not use a toilet without a cover or toilet paper lined. Oh, and another big thing, no touching public pens in doctors offices, you do not even know . The magazines there, forget about it, will not happen. Writing about this actually gives me anxiety too. I suggest you do not mess with me on this subject. It is an evolving project I work on and that is just the way it is. Not nearly as bad as it used to be many years ago, but seriously have you read the reports on public germs. You will see I do have a point to play devil’s advocate. Just yesterday I was out with a friend at the mall eating in the food court, she was laughing so hard that I pulled out clorex wipes to clean the table, laugh as you may but look at the wipe after I clean it. She then joked that she would break down in laughter if I had lysol. Well here you go, there it is. See I can laugh about this, I am used to it and it really is only a small part of me.
Clutter, no way. I like clutter free rooms, and very clean rooms. Do not like seeing pet hair on hard floors and especially a dirty bathroom. Seriously I will clean it before I use it , it does not matter if I am at a friend’s house visiting. I am sure they might get insulted and maybe I should just suck it up. I choose not to suck it up, just too much anxiety associated with it.
There you have it folks, I will be here all week.