I Have OCD

Every day while I am at the gym, I work out on the treadmill and step very carefully, guaranteeing each time the logo on the belt wraps around my foot will land in the same spot.  If it starts to come up a little faster than I expected because I have increased the speed, I change my gait so my foot will land squarely in the middle of the logo.

When I shower, I pump the shampoo dispenser eight times, not seven, not nine, but eight.  Occasionally, if I am feeling a little spunky I may change it up and pump it only four and do half my hair and then pump it four more and do the other half of my hair.  When my shower is over, I put five pumps of lotion on each leg, five on my stomach, and five total for my arms.  If the count is off in any way, I feel like the rest of my day is completely off.

It is not like I am superstitious, or as if I believe I will have bad luck; however, if my “counts” are out of sorts for any reason, I feel completely out of sorts and in a fog, the way you do when you are walking around in the naked dream.  You know the one I mean, when you are naked, but you cannot figure out why and you keep going about your regular tasks but feeling out-of-place.

I do other things, like count stairs when I walk, count words when boring people talk, and I spell words frontwards and backwards, especially words that have eight letters in them, just for fun.  The counting and spelling are mostly a sub-conscious soothing mechanism I do mindlessly when I am stressed, nervous, bored, tired, or trying to keep my mind from thinking of things that will send me over the edge.

When I look as these few silly little nuances of my personality, I don’t even let them bother me anymore, they are so much less of an interference in my life than some of the other things I used to do.  When my children were little, I saw myself on video throwing a class one conniption fit because every single teaspoon to a tea set of theirs was not in place.  They were 3 and 4 years old at the time; on the video they were staring at this crazy woman throwing things out of a closet looking for a plastic Little Tikes teaspoon.

Even if the video was not enough to make an impact on me to notice my annoying idiosyncrasies, I watched my older sister later; she was screaming at my five-year old nephew.  He had been playing with his collection of over 500 Matchbox Cars and one was missing.  She was irate because a very specific car was missing and she wanted to know where it was; I watched as she berated this waif of a boy over a missing $0.96 car.  I was stunned as I saw myself in her; she knew exactly which car was missing, but he could care less.

Another sister, same disorder; same uncomfortable feeling whenever I am around her.  She cleans her house incessantly.  As a guest in her home for longer than an hour, you will become witness to vacuuming, counter wiping, and a constant barrage of orders to everyone who lives there.

As adult children of alcoholic parents, I realize our chances of obsessive compulsive disorder is higher than the American average; and there are four children in my family, other than my brother, the three of us girls have had major issues with the disorder.  However, after witnessing the effect my sister’s behavior has had on their families, I have made a conscious decision, to try to control my outward conduct as much as possible.

I described it this way the other day to my brother-in-law: if it is so unbearable it affects other members of the family, it is no different from being an alcoholic.  Both of my sisters have let their condition poison their relationships.  I am certain I have been guilty of that as well.

Today, though, my counting hurts and annoys nobody… except maybe those of you reading this.

18 thoughts on “I Have OCD

  1. A tough disease to live and deal with, I guess you have made some kind of concession with it. OCD and your comparison to alcoholism really isn’t far off. The both indeed can affect other members of ones family and friends and the like.The other major symmetry is that like alcoholism, OCD and a whole host of mental type diseases are not primarily recognized by many medical insurers, meaning out of pocket expenses are greater with these diseases.

    • That is true, Sir. I have noticed within my own family the struggles we have all faced. For me, it was a simple… exchange as it were. The little things I do now really do not bother anybody; in fact, if I didn’t tell anybody, they would not even know. However, I have been like my sisters, where i have ranted and raved and reigned terror on my family should they let one thing get out of place; it is no way to live.

      I am incredibly aware of my behaviors and work daily to make sure they do not infringe on others. It is my issue, not theirs.

      Having an affliction such as this that remains unrecognized by the AMA as a health problem is not likely to go away soon, so I have had to learn to handle it on my own. I know that so many others aren’t able to do that.

      Thank you as always, Sir.


  2. It is healthy to recognize that you are not perfect. Interesting how you could see yourself in your sister. It is rare to be able to see something like that and recognize it. We all have our weirdnesses in one way or another and we’d all do well to recognize what we can and cannot change, or even what we do and do not want to change, and how to live with what we are stuck with. I see no value in yelling at a one-legged man for hopping on one foot to cross the room, he can’t help it. We all have less obvious handicaps. Finding a place where we belong and fit in is a difficult trick for many of us. Let’s revel in the journey!

    • Ahhh, how correct you are, Sir. I have worked diligently over the years improving the things I can improve, and accepting those things I cannot. Improvement is a little easier for me than acceptance. I am terribly hard on myself… some people are even harder on me, but that is a whole different story.

      Thank you for continuing this journey with me. I appreciate the company.


  3. I appreciate your frankness. Yes, it requires a lot of courage even if it is done anonymously. To a certain extent I too am suffering from such disorders, I feel. Perfectionism – there is nothing more disturbing than that. We (believe we) do things perfectly and we expect it from others too. Compromising is too hard.
    Thanks for this insightful post.

    • Oh, you are most welcome. Thank you so much for commenting. I say it is easy; but, honestly I worry each day that somebody in my family will see this blog and be hurt… which is the last thing I would ever want. I write to save myself, not to hurt them. I hope that makes sense.

      And, if it touches or reaches anybody else, then *bonus*.

      Yes, I do believe so many of us strive for perfection… odd how that makes us so imperfect…


  4. I am not sure what keeps drawing me to you.
    I truly care.
    You have touched me.
    I know what you are talking about here today… The numbers thing,
    I had it as well, as a little girl… my mom woke me up in the middle of the night to tell me she was bailing my executive father out of jail not once but twice… First time I was nine years old. My parents were great in many other ways but my dad drank and my mom shared too much of her adult life and burdened me with unthinkable worries about my dad’s drinking. I later went into the Pscyh world as a counselor (but you know what they say, there is a thin line between patients and caretakers) we all have our issues… I remember getting up in the middle of thing and lining up all my Kiddles and still sometimes to this day, I catch myself counting…. WE are all products of where we came from… especially adult children of alcoholics… there are a slew of books out there describing us! We are the ones always waiting for the other shoe to fall! I gave everything to the Lord when I realized how silly it all was and for the most part, HE has taken it… (He would take it all, but as I said, we all still hang on to bits and pieces, how silly.) HE is in charge of me now and and for the last few decades, He had done quite well… lol… But I do GET it… we feel out of control as tiny kids and we create things in our lives to make us feel in control. Your sister and you, makes sense you came from the same chaos. I don’t want to push something on you that might offend you… but if nothing else is working… why not just give God a try? Find a church you are comfortable in… a nondenominational one… you might be surprised how supportive they are. Go somewhere no one knows you and just slip in and listen to a message… I am praying for you… I know your life has been hard.
    There is an amazing song by JJ. Heller called: What love really means
    Maybe just start out by listening to that…
    I am praying for you…

    • You are always so inspirational and have so many wonderful things to say. Thank you so much for spending so much time with me in this cyber world…

      I certainly appreciate all of your wisdom and advice. I will listen to the song.

      And, yes, we are always waiting for the other shoe to drop… as will be proven by the things that I write here. More shoes; always mismatches.

      Again… thank you.


  5. It looks like I am in good company. I am afflicted similarly, but can’t honestly say I suffer from it. It’s not a struggle, it’s just me. I’ll share more later, but for now I will add one to your list. I count my teeth with my tongue. All day long. Nobody knows. Until now.
    We’ll talk. Thanks for the post.

  6. Everyone develops some sort of obsession or disability as life progresses, but you have to remember: No disease is greater than the person, the person is always greater.’ You sound perfectly fine to me. 🙂

Please share your experiences with me

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s