For as long as I can remember, I have had obsessions and compulsions that affect the way I live my life. Thankfully, I have very tolerant parents. I didn’t have a name for what was wrong with me until I was 27 when I was finally diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder. That was an “Ah-ha" moment for my entire family. We finally had an answer as to why I was so different.
An OCD Personal Story: Childhood Eating Habits
Even though Mom didn’t understand why, she accepted that I could not eat food that was touching on my plate. Dad thought it was a little strange that I could eat beef stew where Mom took all the left over vegetables from the refrigerator and dumped them together to make the stew, but I couldn’t eat those same ingredients if they were mixed on my plate. I ate the stew, with the corn and peas on the same spoon but I wouldn’t eat corn and peas that were in mixed vegetables. The only answer I ever had for my parent’s inquisition was that “Stew was supposed to be mixed together and vegetables were not."
The truth was, I didn’t understand it myself. I remember that when I was very young I actually thought that when I swallowed the food it was separated in my stomach and that each food had a different compartment where it was then digested. For some reason, there was also a compartment for beef stew. I was in my late teens before I learned to force myself to eat casseroles and even then, it was a struggle for me to do so.
Except for housekeeping, which I can’t seem to get a good understanding of, I am very organized. My computer is full of files and everything that is saved has its own space. I can easily find things that were saved several years ago because I understand which file I put them under. However, if anyone else were to try to find something on my computer, they would probably complain about the sheer number of files they would have to comb through.
Almost every file in my Word program has plenty of sub-files. For example, I have a file titled 'Bright Hub' for the articles I write here. Then, within that file, I have a file for each month of year so that I know when I was working on particular articles. Nothing goes in that file, though, until it is complete. There is a file titled “Drafts" where the unfinished work goes so that I can easily remember what I was working on.
The same holds true for my physical filing cabinet. Everything I keep has a file to be easily found when I need it, but my husband can never figure out where I’ve put the stuff he needs.
Before my diagnosis, I had to make three or four trips around the block before I could go anywhere. Why? Well, first I would wonder if I had left the curling iron on, then I would wonder about the stove, then I wouldn’t be sure if I had locked the door, etc., etc. It was torture for me and my family. I especially drove my sister crazy as she has none of the obsessions and simply couldn’t understand why I was such a Drama Queen.
An OCD Personal Story: Relearning How to Live
Once I had the diagnosis, I had to relearn how to live. I researched OCD and talked to medical professionals. I taught myself to check all the appliances before I left home the first time and to not go back no matter how strong the urge was to do so. It hasn’t been easy, but I have made great strides in what I am able to accomplish now. I am no longer late for appointments as I don't have to make all those trips around the block. In fact, I usually arrive early now because 13 years later my internal clock on how long it takes me to get somewhere has not changed. I allow time for all those trips around the block, even though I don't make them.
Source: Author's own experience.