The OCD Monster: Part 1

Date March 5, 2011

This is the first part of my crazy story with OCD. In January, I had a very scary episode with OCD and finally sought help. It was only then that I learned that I have been suffering from OCD for as long as I can remember. Here is my story.

I’m a teenager. Can’t remember exactly what age, because I have been this way for as long as I can remember. Even for as long as my parents can remember. I am a worrier. Nothing abnormal, or so I thought, but just a worrier. At bedtime, I follow a routine because I am suspicious that I might die in my sleep or that someone might kill me in the middle of the night. On my way to my room, I make sure I tell my Dad I will see him in the morning. I do this every night. That should seal my fate. I should make it through to the next day. Then, when I get to my room, I check. Check, check, check. My closet, under the bed, between my bed and the wall. I check anywhere there could be a potential intruder. I might check my closet twice, just to be sure. Then I lay down and recite my prayer. I say the same words always, exactly as I have said them a thousand times before. If I mess up, I start over. This prayer insures that if I do die in my sleep, that I will get into heaven……finally, I can go to sleep. When I wake in the morning, I am pleasantly surprised.

Still a teenager. My dad drops me off at our house. It is empty. I make him come inside and check under every bed in the house and maybe even the closets. I can’t quite remember. Meanwhile, I check the bathroom closet and I pull back the curtain on the bathtub to make sure nobody is hiding there to jump out and kill me. Once I get the “all clear”, I allow my dad to leave. As soon as he leaves, I lock all doors and check the back door to make sure it is also locked. And if I am feeling extra spry, I might even check the locks on the windows. Can’t have any intruders now, can we? Check, check, check.

Probably around age 10, I notice a bump on my finger. It happens to be the exact place where I hold my pencil. I immediately panic, assuming it is cancer, of course. I run and ask my mom about it. She sees that I am clearly freaking out and assures me that it is just a callous and that I will live. Wow. Dodged a bullet there, but I am going to keep an eye on it, just in case she is wrong.

My college years are full of health obsessions. I notice at one point that one of my ribs in higher than the other when I am laying on my back. Is it supposed to be that way? Is it cancer? Could the higher rib have a growth on it? I nearly have an anxiety attack just thinking about it. I check it everyday, multiple times a day for months just to make sure it isn’t growing. Of course, it never does and I move onto a new obsession.

Still in college, my asthma appears to be getting worse as I age. Maybe it will kill me?! Maybe it is getting worse because I have lung cancer or something like that? (Noticing a pattern here?)

Just married to the man of my dreams and I am working at a local hospital. I am terrified of somehow contracting HIV, even though I have only worked with 2 or 3 HIV patients in as many years and I have never stuck myself with a needle. I become terrified that I have somehow picked up the virus and will pass it on to my unsuspecting husband. I lie in bed at night crying for fear that I might harm him without knowing it.

About 7 years later, I am working at Quest Diagnostics when I experience a true exposure to a person’s blood. I wait 12 hours for the tests to come back confirming that I have not been exposed to HIV. The 12 hour wait was horrific. I was having a full blown break down. Sweating and shivering at the same time. Repeating myself over and over, pacing the floor, on the verge of throwing up. Then I got the call that I had not been exposed. I was so relieved. Then a week later, I started doubting. What if they tested the wrong persons blood? After all, it is a huge lab. What if they didn’t do the test correctly? What if I was exposed and nobody knows? What if, what if, what if? The HIV obsession is back for a while.

Over the years, I have done this with everything. A pimple on my neck – lymphoma? The moles on my skin – melanoma? The lump the doc found on my breast and assured me it was fine more than once – breast cancer? Check, check, check. Check as many times a day as I can. Obsess all day long. It never leaves my mind, always nagging at me. Eventually the obsession fades, just to be replaced by another. I might go months without a worry, then they will slowly creep back in and take over my life.

3 Responses to “The OCD Monster: Part 1”

  1. Debby Bentch said:

    More! Soon, please! I am right there with you remembering the issues I have dealt with throughout my life and also the deliverance/healing I have experienced for a lot of it! May the LORD bless you as you continue this journey.

  2. J.Hoeppner said:

    Jennifer I have some of the same issues,but mine is everything has to be clean and organized. I even spend days going through my check book,every dollar down to the penny must be accounted for at all times.My mom is always telling me why do you worry about something that may or may not happen. I think most people do have OCD,some are just worse than others. I know mine affects my daily life and controlling it would probably reduce a ton of the stress I put on myself,but I just don’t want to admit it to any doctor,afraid they may want me to talk to a psyc. doctor and that I am not ready for.
    Have you ever been told what triggered yours? Was this something you inherited? I had a friend that never slept,and when she did anything would wake her up. She had a routine every night ect. come to find out at eight years old her home had caught fire and they almost didn’t get out. I guess I should research this more!
    I am so sorry you have always dealt with this,do you see this happening in your kids? My one year old will clean a dirty floor at a resturant if you let her ;( Please continue posting,I love reading your entries.

  3. The OCD Monster: Part 2 | said:

    [...] This is the second part of my story of my struggle with OCD. If you would like to read the first part, click on the following link. The OCD Monster: Part 1 [...]

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