The door is locked. I know it's locked. I must check it again. The door is locked. I know it's locked. I must check it again. This ritual is repeated over and over again. It can last 5 minutes or it could last 5 hours. It will stop, but...the anxiety will remain until time passes and it 'feels right'. But...when will this happen?
I touch the table 3 times. It must be 3 times. Not 2 times. Not 4 times. 3 times! If I touch the table again, I must touch it 2 more times to make it 3 times. I must walk a certain number of steps. If I don't walk the exact number then I have to start over. I must swallow a certain number of times. Since we're always swallowing, this process never stops and I'm always counting.
Fear of Hurting Self or Loved One
I am so scared that I am going to hurt someone close to me. I think of this possiblity all day and night. What if I do hurt them? What will happen? At times, I'm so afraid that I can't leave my house for hours, days, or weeks because I'm afraid I will get hurt. I can't walk into a room if there is anything sharp. I might lunge for the object and hurt my mom with it. I better not look over at that knife again. If I do look that's admitting I think it's a good idea to take the knife and cut my throat with it. I can't look at the knife.
There is a big difference between collecting and hoarding. Hoarding is OCD. This distinction is often misdiagnosed. If you collect something then it is possible to sell it or let it go. If you are a hoarder, it is virtually impossible to let it go. For example - you hoard newspapers and have piles of hundreds of newspapers or even thousands dating back 20 years. You can't let even 1 be taken from you because there might be something in it that is important to you. Hoarding can often be so bad that there is nowhere in ones' living space to move or sleep or cook. At times in severe cases it can become dangerous - a fire hazard or health issue. Sometimes the fire departement or health department become involved which can be devastating.
I can't get that damn song out of my head. It doesn't stop. I can't think or read or sleep. Stop that song! My mind is blank and I must fill it with something. Anything. But...I want quiet but my mind will not allow itself to go blank. I can't even watch a movie because I won't be able to pay attention. I can't read a book because my mind goes so fast and is so full I don't even know what I just read so I read it again. Stop the noise! Please! Stop the noise!
Feeling “Just Right”
Every time I get up from a chair the chair must be left in a certain way or the opposite....Every time I sit in a chair it must first be in a certain position. When something has to feel 'just right', it may never be - but this will pass since if you are in a group of people you have to sit fairly quickly as others do in your group.
I can't touch anything. I am so afraid of getting contaminated. If I ride a street car or bus, all I can think of are the poles and seats that have been touched by others thousands of times - as well as the hundreds of people on transit with me. All money and tokens are dirty. How do I pay for my trip? I have to go to the washroom but I am not at home. I can't touch the doors so I wait until someone opens the door and I can follow them in. I can't touch anything in the washroom. How will I wash my hands when I'm done? I have scrubbed my home for hours but it's still not clean. My hands are not clean and now they are bleeding and I must clean them more. What if my clothes have semen on them. I will give everyone HIV (I know I don't have it) that comes into contact with me. I can't wash the clothes or they will contaminate everything else. I will throw the clothes away -- but how? I will seal the clothes in plastic bags. But the sanitation crew will breathe in the HIV particles if I don't do a good enough job taping the plastic. I can burn the clothes. I can't touch my car. I can't touch..... Just to be safe, I won't let anyone ever come visit me at my home.
I can't walk behind anyone because if I do I know I will throw them down and sodomize them. It's a small price to pay to not walk behind someone so that I don't rape them but how am I going to get to work on time if I can't walk behind anyone. I can always walk on the road away from everyone. I will walk sideways when following coworkers into a meeting, and if someone says something about me walking weird, I'll play it off.
And many more...
Actions and Fears:
Fear of breaking by accident or on purpose something
Fear of doing something embarrassing in groups of people
Walking in front / behind / to the right/ to the left of someone
Aligning pens to be exactly as needed on desk – never just right
Brushing teeth so many times – actually takes hours
TREATMENTS FOR OCD
There are two professional ways of treating OCD: Medication and CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy)
With CBT it is best to have a support system in place, such as a partner, family member, friend, or companion. It will help if this support person sees your OCD professional to understand what your issues mean and how best to support you.
If you feel your OCD is affecting your work environment you might consider sitting down with your employer and explaining your situation and how it might affect your work. You might be surprised of the outcome.
For CBT to be effective you must find a therapist who you feel comfortable with, trust, and understands what they are doing and how they do it. If any of these factors are missing, the chances of CBT working well will be greatly hampered or reduced. Don't be afraid to change your doctor and/or therapist - it's your body, not their's.
Since we know that all OCD issues cause anxiety, you must be prepared to experience anxiety during CBT. Why is this? Why must someone inflict this uncomfortable feeling on purpose?
The answer is simple if OCD causes anxiety, you must be able to identify it, eventually face it head on and learn how to reduce it as much as possible, which in turn reduces your OCD.
In time you may be able to recognize, face, and handle this anxiety.
When OCD was first given a name there was very little medication indicated for use with OCD. The primary drug was Anafranil. Today there are many more choices.
Most OCD medications are classified as SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors), SRIs (Serotonin Uptake Inhibitors), or SNRIs (Serotonin Norepinephrine Reuptake Inhibitors).
The trick is to find the right one(s) at the right dosage for you. If you do not have patience, this will not work. The reason is simple – any drug you try will take approximately three months to properly make its way into your system.
Now the patience begins, the strength of drug you have tried may have to be increased or decreased depending on how it reacts with you, based on side effects (if any) and results. You will work closely with your doctor to modify dosages, but you must have patience since this takes time.
You may have to try two or three different drugs, making the same modifications until you find your best choice. One piece of advice - do not be afraid to tell your doctor that the dose or even the drug is not working for you. You might even require a second medication to be added. Sounds like fun!
It is a matter of trial and error. Also remember that not all doctors have the same knowledge of OCD and how it works. You might have to try another doctor. Don’t be afraid to change doctors. You won’t hurt their feelings! There have been many, many doctors who are not up-to-date on OCD and prescribed medications that are not even indicated for OCD. Your body will be the best indication of what to do next – but in the end, it will be worth it.
Every drug, not just OCD medication, can react differently with different people. You may even experience no side effects.
Drug manufacturers must cover themselves so they mention every possible side effect. Have you ever seen a US commercial for any type of medication for anything - they mention every possible side effect, which scares everyone. In so many cases any side effects felt may diminish or disappear over time as you and your body get used to your medication.
Try not to dwell on side effects because if you do, your mind, or even your OCD, could take the forefront and the medication will never make you happier.