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A Long Miserable Life with OCD--Anyone Relate?

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Let me enlighten people of what it was like to suffer with OCD from childhood (decades of horrible misery), especially when society was far less open and tolerant—and respectful—with other people’s psychological problems.

 

Unlike today, where it is quaint to claim to have a disease (whether one has one or not) ADD, Bipolar, perhaps because they think they will garner sympathy or accrue some benefits, there was most certainly NO benefit in previous years in telling anyone about my OCD.

 

But while the OCD with its intrusive thoughts are horror enough, the difficulty of having to conceal the rituals made an additional ######, as well as the fact I could never dare to confide to a single soul.

 

In fact, as is common of my generation, I never had the slightest inclination until I was past 40, that what I experienced was a recognized disorder with a name, and that there was even a single person who ever lived that experienced what I had.

 

You often read of posts of OCDer (usually females) that tell of having OCD thoughts that they will harm their loved ones and even will not go into a room with their children alone or keep sharp objects in their house. Or you will read of people fearing molesting their children or others, or committing a homosexual act, even though, as OCDers know, they are appalled at the very idea.

 

You better believe if a 6 ft. 4 in. man had had ever breathed a word of this to anyone, he would be persona non grata in his entire community—a loathed person and a total outcast.

 

When you are a large man, the confession “I feel I am going to commit” later evolves to “I have a latent desire to commit” as it passes through people, even though as we OCDers know, we recoil at the very thought and have absolutely no desire whatsoever to do these things we fear we will do.

 

In the 60s and 70s blue-collar environment I grew up in, if I even confided to my closest friends, they would not have been my friends any longer. There was no internet where you could go anonymously and find others that share you experiences.

 

One of my biggest challenges was to keep my rituals from being discovered.

 

One of the rituals I had that if anyone said anything bad or even threatened me (usually they were not serious, such as schoolboy teasing, “I am going to kick your butt” etc.) I felt what they said would necessarily come through literally (as a curse) unless I canceled it by getting them to retract it 4 times or if they said something bad they would have to cancel out the curse by saying something good at least 4 times.

 

Usually when someone saw they were causing me to have fear of them, their own insecurities (perhaps a lack of confidence in their masculinity) caused them to step up their teasing or threatening me. And of course any new curses would have to be canceled by the same 4-1 ratio.

 

I could write a book on how I had to develop stratagems and ruses, as well as take on assumed personalities, to manipulate the unsuspecting party (who was getting their own insecurities assuaged by getting a bigger person to fear them) to retract the curses.

 

I was often criticized for making choices that caused me to be ostracized—people mentioning I could have had better social situations simply by making the right choices. What they do not know the choice was not between developing a persona that would facilitate good relationships vs. maintaining the personality I had. The choice was between either incurring derision for these artificially affected personalities—OR—worst letting my OCD rituals being discovered.

 

Even today, and even more so in the past while one would never belittle a person in a wheelchair, utter a racial epithet, make fun of someone’s sexual orientation, lest you face legal or other repercussions, there is nothing in the political correctness or legal code that prevents someone coughing on someone paranoid of germs and stating they have a combinable deadly disease.

 

Let me give you another example. I would have a ritual where in a library I would have the have the shelf with a book I valued was located lined up perfectly. If it wasn’t I feared the knowledge I garnered from that book would be eradicated from my brain. So I would have to go back over and over rechecking to be safe “add a cushion” of having the shelves besides this one line up perfectly. Someone who I wasn’t even aware of would think I was stalking them.

 

Or, if I have to recheck something in a public building, such as a library and I have to make sure I finished touching or rechecking something a certain number of times, in case I died and be eternally cursed, I would be suspected of “being up to no good” casing the place, or whatever.

 

Or course I could never explain to anyone what I was doing—at that time I did not know that there was a name for OCD, I thought it was just me, sui generus.

 

Could you imagine a conversation with a policeman such as:

 

Officer: “Can you tell me what you keep going back past that patron [the shelf experience] or why you were in the building past closing?”

 

Me: “Well you see officer, if I do not complete this ritual a curse will come upon me, I will get cancer and die.”

 

Officer: “What are you talking about???

 

Me: Seriously, I just know something will happen to me if I do not do such and such, in fact I am constantly laden with fear with the prospect of this happening.”

 

Officer: “OK, we got a real psycho or he is covering up something. He is probably a stalker or thief. Better lock this guy up.”

 

I have long been aware that to survive, it was better to incur odium, derision and even scorn than to let anyone know what really was going on with my OCD rituals. And could you image if the same officer knew what some of my OCD intrusive thoughts were, my situation would only be exasperated.

 

As I got older I had become more of a loner so I did not have to be as careful of covering up some of my rituals. Yet being a loner just allows rumors and stereotypes to accrue all the more.

 

As you can image dealing with OCD prevented me from holding any meaningful employment. As a result I am often broke and in need of financial assistance.

 

But try explaining to an individual or agency of why you are broke and why you cannot maintain employment.

 

Their reaction is this:

 

“You are a healthy big white person, who seems intelligent, does not use drugs or even drink, have no obvious disabilities or handicaps; what possible excuse could you have?”

 

“Well I am Obsessive-Compulsive.”

 

“Oh just that? Why if you saw my roommate Suzy and how she likes to have our apartment tidy and everything placed just right, now there’s OCD! But in not anything serious like bipolar or schizophrenia; I think the problem is just that you are lazy!”

 

Oh how I hate that word “lazy.” It does no good trying to explain that the colloquial use of the word “OCD” is at best, only superficially related to the medical (DSM-V) use of the term.

 

If I could ever redirect my efforts in battling my OCD and concealing it to the business world, I could run Microsoft, IBM, Exxon-Mobile and Dell Computers combined.

 

Going to a therapist in those days only exasperated my situation. OCD before the mid-80s was not known to be caused by a biological malfunction as it is today, but the result of bad parental upbringing and other environmental factors.

 

You would not dare tell a therapist your sexual intrusive thoughts since Freudian concepts of “sexual repressions” and “sexual hang-ups” permeated the psychological community; you would be told your intrusive thoughts were “latent” desires and you needed to “come out of the closet.” Now those horrendous intrusive OCD thoughts are now magnified and given more credibility in your mind.

 

I do not want to revel in my identity of a person with a disability. It is not my goal to waddle in people’s sympathy—I am not looking to be a poster child for OCD, but I would like to have close relationships, do something useful with my life, contribute something to the world, and live with self-respect and dignity.

 

If anyone has similar stories, young, old, male, female, whatever, please either post your story or privately email me.

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Hello and welcome to the forum,

 

Wow....you so well described OCD. I am very impressed with the depth you are able to convey of how OCD intrudes into a person's life. I too have had OCD since I was a child. My main OCD thoughts have centered around the fear of germs, fear of hurting others, and fear of thinking unwanted thoughts of God. I had all the classic symptoms as a child like having to count, my number was 10, before I could believe something was actually turned off. I created a whole world, within my mind, of if this happens then I must do that to redirect fate. So I completely understand where you are coming from. I lived it for many years.

 

What completely changed my entire world is when I finally grasped that the restrictions and false reality of fear, I was living in, was not at all what God had planned for my life. It was awesome when I realized that God was in indeed the one in ultimate control. The control I thought I had was indeed just an illusion. I came to a whole other place of peace that is indescribable. I went from high states of fear to a an unexplainable joy that God loved me and I could trust Him no matter what. He had the best plan possible for me. Even when life seems to be falling apart, God still has a plan. Trusting that He will get you through it makes all the difference.

 

I know looking back on my life with OCD the reason I created all the parameters in my mind, of the if this happens I must do that, was because I had no understanding of God's truths so I was trying to create my own reality of what controls things. What an AMAZING relief to find out you do not have to live that way any longer.

 

In 1993, the year I got married, a friend and neighbor who was a pastor did some premarital counseling with my husband and me. We went through all kinds of things like how we would handle finances, children and the general everyday things you deal with marriage. The pastor wanted to make sure my husband and my marriage could have the best possible chance at success. Well the very last time we met we discussed religion.

 

The pastor asked us if we where to die today and we were standing before God why would He say we could stay in Heaven. I was thinking, to myself, well I am an overall good person so why would He not let me in. I soon quickly understood I was missing the biggest part of life and it literally changed my whole world. The pastor explained to my husband and I that Christ had done everything for us by dieing on the cross for our sin. The Bible makes it very clear all of us have sinned against God you can read this in the Book of Romans Chapter 3 verses 10-18. But the next very important part is Christ was raised back to life on the 3rd day which indeed proved He had victory over death. Now the only thing that was left was having faith that Christ did this for us and to accept Him as our Savior and Lord of our lives. That night, after the pastor showing us many scriptural references to this truth, my husband and I both asked Christ into our lives. I can absolutely promise you that God has transformed my thinking and my life's perspective in more ways then I could ever express.

 

My husband and I started attending a really good Bible based church. We started going to Bible studies and actually learning what our Creator had to say about how He wants us to have faith in Him and that He loves us beyond measure. All this transformed my mind and to levels I cannot explain. The Bible references this transformation in the book of Romans chapter 12 verse 2 "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of you mind". This means get into God's word, the Bible, and learn what He has to say about you and who He is in your life.

 

So now all the OCD restrictions I created in my own mind's reality meant absolutely nothing because I really could grasp why they were false. It took away that fear inside of me knowing God is indeed in control and I can trust Him.

 

Now do I still battle with OCD on a certain level. The answer is yes but it ALWAYS revolves around one thing. It is when I take my eyes off of His truth and start looking at things again from my own vantage point not from Gods.

 

I know the Bible can seem very overwhelming. A great place to start is in the book of John or otherwise known as the Gospel of John. It is the fourth book in the New Testament in the Bible. Another GREAT resource is a book called Classic Christianity by Bob George http://store.silaspartners.com/merchant.mv...Category_Code=B . I have read it several times and it REALLY helped me get my head wrapped around God's grace and that He is not this mean God who is just out to get us. He is a loving God reaching out to us and waiting for us to say Yes I will accept your offer to save me. I actually have an extra copy of this book and I would be more then happy to send it to you if you send me an address I can mail it to. I am heading out for vacation over the weekend, we will be gone for a week, so if you are interested I can send it before I leave or I can send it in a couple of weeks.

 

Another GREAT book is called "The Case for Christ" by Lee Strobel. Lee Strobel had been an atheist and was out to disprove Christianity and the Bible once and for all. His profession in life was an investigative journalist and he had a law background. So he knew how to thoroughly investigate. Well his whole world was changed upside down when the overwhelming evidence should him that Christ was indeed God and the Bible was absolultey reliable. He then wrote the exact opposite book he had planned and wrote how much evidence there is for Christ and how you can prove the Bible is absolutely true. I HIGHLY recommend this book.

 

I know it may sound like I am some super religious person but the fact is I am far from it. Religion is man's attempt to create a way to God. What I have is a RELATIONSHIP with God and it is only because of what Christ did for me that this is even possible.

 

I know you have had a very difficult life. But I want you to know there is absolute hope and it is coming of the true understanding of why God made you and who God indeed is. God made you to love on you and for you to love Him. I know many people have gone through absolutely horrible things in life and you think how can a loving God allow such things to happen. But the reality is this is just one part of our lives the next part comes after we die. God is looking at a picture much bigger then our perspective. All I know is I have heard absolutely horrific stories of what people have had to deal with in life but for those, who understand that God's purposes are higher and he loves them greatly, they see a perspective that is beyond human understanding.

 

From one OCD suffer to another please hold out hope that there are answers. God will show you the truth when you ask Him to show you. I know He will because I have seen it so many times in my own life and in the lives of others. He is indeed faithful to show Himself those who seek Him.

 

Here is a link to another part of the forum where I responded to another person who called herslef Desperate. I shared with her thing things I have done for helping my OCD. Just in case you are interested here is the link http://www.latitudes.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=2623 .

 

Thank you so much for sharing your incredible OCD story. I know it hits home with many, many people!

 

Carolyn

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hello,

 

I'm new to this forum, but not to OCD. I'm a male who started experiencing the first symptoms of OCD as a teenager, and now, almost 20 years later, they have progressed to a nearly debilitating level. The version of OCD that trips me up is checking things - water faucets, electrical appliances, lighters, candles, making sure doors are locked, making sure the car is in park, etc. This sounds mostly harmless and even like a responsible thing for an adult to do, but it stopped being harmless a long time ago. The amount of energy I put into checking things and the amount of distress it causes me have gotten out of control. I guess that's why I'm here.

 

I know exactly what you mean about people referring to you as "lazy." The word that I hate that has been associated with me at all of my numerous jobs is "slow." Because of the compulsion to check my work over and over and over, it takes me much longer to complete tasks, no matter how simple they are. This has led most bosses and coworkers I've had to conclude that I'm slow because I'm either stupid or lazy.

 

I quit a job about two months ago because I was informed that I was going to be fired at the end of the month due to poor productivity. I wanted to tell them about the OCD situation, but I just didn't feel like anyone would care or understand, so I just quit.

 

In the job I held before that, I was constantly in trouble with my boss due to daily tardiness. The tardiness was caused by the checking, which caused me to check over nearly every inch of my house before I left for work in the morning. I usually have to allow for about an hour of checking time every morning, but sometimes even an hour isn't enough. I can't express in words the amount of shame I've felt over the years because I'm unable to hold down a job without constant trouble from the OCD.

 

I've given up on having any friends at work because, inevitably, they will catch me checking something over and over again. Almost everyone I've ever worked with then concludes that I'm crazy or just weird and then avoids me as much as possible. I have friends from high school that I still see occasionally, but seeing them involves leaving the house, which requires a tremendous amount of energy and will power to accomplish. The unfortunate conclusion I usually arrive at is that it's just not worth all the pain I'll have to go through in order to go out and see my friends. I haven't told them about the OCD, either, so I think it comes across to them like I don't care if I see them.

 

It's true what you said about men having it more difficult when it comes to this illness, simply because of the our society's stigma about men admitting to having problems. Of course I don't know what it's like to be a woman, but I do know that women tend to have people they can speak honestly to, while most men seem to have to keep problems hidden.

 

I am blessed to be married to a woman who is trying to help me with this illness. When we got married, the OCD wasn't nearly as bad as it is today. I feel bad for my wife, because there's no way she could have known what she was getting herself into. When we got married, I also didn't know how bad this illness would become. She has been trying to find some kind of help for me. I think she is afraid that I will eventually become one of those people who never leaves the house and are unable to work.

 

I'm in a new job now, but already I'm getting in trouble for being too slow. There's a feeling of hopelessness I have, knowing that the OCD will destroy so much and there's very little I can do to prevent it.

 

I'm concerned, too, because the OCD seems to be branching out into other areas. For example, a few days ago I was hit with a very strong compulsion to steal. I didn't go through with it, but I'd never felt any kind of compulsion like that before. For the past few months, I've also felt compulsions that cause me a lot of anxiety when I have to throw something away. I guess this is the beginning of hoarding. I'm scared of how bad things are becoming. At least I'm attempting to do something to treat the OCD. I guess if I can get on some kind of medication and into counseling, maybe things will get better. I know I should have gotten help a long time ago, but I guess I always thought I could handle this problem on my own.

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xeven101,

 

Thank you so much for sharing you experience. I wanted to tell you about a book that I have found recently and it has been so helpful for me in understanding how to control and help OCD. It is called "Brain Lock" by Jeffrey Schwartz, M.D. He explains in the book how to mentally overcome OCD and shares many examples. A new book runs $14.95 but it is well worth the money.

 

I would also recommend you go to a counselor that does Cognitative Behavioral Therapy. This is what seems to have helped many with OCD. It helps you to analyze your thoughts and put them in perspective. Same thing the book does.

 

The other part to it is getting on the right diet and the right supplements. Many people on this forum, including the forum leader Chemar for her, has had great success with supplements and diet changes. I know I have seen it with my own family. My son has Tourettes and OCD. The things that really set his tics and anxiety off are food dyes, high fructose corn syrup and MSG based foods. I have seen this pattern for 3 years now and there is no doubt there is a correlation. I have been treating him with great supplements and diet changes and he is a changed person. Here is a link to a post I did that can explain more to you if you are interested . You just need to scroll down a bit on the link and you will see my response http://www.latitudes.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=5145 .

 

You would probably be interested in reading Chemar's post regarding her son and what she had done to help him http://www.latitudes.org/forums/index.php?showtopic=687 . I know many have found help with 5 htp supplementation or a product called Inositol. You can read up on both these on the Internet and how they help OCD. The biggest thing I would do is get yourself into a good Naturopathic doctor who understand the diet/supplement changes needed in someone with OCD along with counseling.

 

Of course you can never discount what God can do for you and I know God has done wonderful things in my life in showing me what to do for my son.

 

If you have any questions please let me know,

 

Carolyn

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