Thanks Vanessa and Leenie-
I have had OCD since I was a child...although I had no idea what it was...or that anything was wrong with me until after I had my first child. The symptoms got worse during my pregnancy and after becoming a mother...and then again after getting pregnant and having my son.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with OCD...I'll explain a little. It is not something wrong with your brain...you are not crazy. It is an anxiety disorder. OCD is more common in people with higher intelligence as well. People who have OCD tend to have other anxiety disorders-panic or anxiety attacks, depression, etc. because the same chemical imbalance that causes OCD causes the other problems. I go through periods of depression, and suffer from anxiety attacks due to the stress of living with OCD along with the stress of everyday life.
Sit back and think about when you hear a song on the radio-and it could most likely be a song that you don't even like-and then you hear it in your head all day long. You find yourself hearing it, and you end up humming it or whistling it to yourself the rest of the day...and you really don't want to!
This is akin to the symptoms of OCD-in the way I can explain it best.
People with OCD have anxiety and thoughts that are irrational-called "Obsessions". This can be fears of contamination or germs...fear of harming someone...fear of forgetting something...fear of making mistakes or doign something wrong...fear of losing something valuable or important...and so on.
Some OCD sufferers have thoughts that are purely obsessional, and there is no relief.
For some of these thoughts-people develop "compulsions" or activities or rituals that ease that anxiety for a while.
For instance-for someone who has obsessive thoughts of germs and contamination-their compulsion might be to wear gloves when they touch doorknobs or public toilets-or to wash their hands so many times per day.
Someone who has obsessions about forgetting something may have checking compulsions-checking over and over to be sure the door is locked, the coffee pot is off, and so on.
There are many, many kinds of obsessions...and many compulsive activities that can result from them. Most OCD sufferers have multiple obsessions and compulsions.
Some OCD sufferers may have Obsessions and they don't know why-meaning it has nothing to do with contamination, harm, order, etc. (I believe it is because of the level of anxiety we are prone to at all times-that when we calm down a bit that our brain has to "keep it up".
) For instance-a lot of OCD people have a "thing" with numbers or a counting ritual-or a touching habit or something they do-just like someone biting their nails or twisting their hair. Sort of an OCD "fidgeting" only it is in our head, and not just an outward habit.
This is the first time on 3FC that I have really admitted and talked about my disorder. I have made so many friends here...it feels a little "freeing" to be able to do so.
I suffer from multiple Obsessions and Compulsions. Some of them I have had my entire life...others come and go throughout my life-one O/C going on as a child...then stopping and it being replaced by another as I grew into a teen, and changing throughout my life.
I have a sense of humor about it though. I have to. I was glad to see the movie "As Good As It Gets" portraying Jack Nicholson as someone with OCD...and I LOVE the tv series MONK. You gotta be able to laugh it off. As a matter of fact-it is never stated...but from watching it over and over and over again...I believe Jerry Seinfeld on Seinfeld has OCD.
Personally-the Obsessions and Compulsions that I have are the easiest to hide from everyone...but are the hardest to treat. I am SO not a germaphobe-I could walk into a strange restaurant and pick up a stranger's drink and take a sip if you bet me $20.
I just don't care.
Here are some of my personal symptoms:
*Obsession with order and symmetry-and its compulsions*
This causes compulsions of "everything having to be just so...in a certain way or order. It changes throughout my life. When I was a teenager-my cd's were organized in alphabetical order by the artist, and if I had 3-4 by the same artist-they were then in order by the album title. Another example with these compulsions is eating rituals. If I eat M&M's there is an "order". I separate them into piles by color, and then eat them one color at a time-in order by which pile has the most in it...then down to the least.
As an adult...it is all of the little things-like sorting the clothes hangers in the laundry area by color, all hangers facing the same direction...or sorting the yogurt in the fridge by their expiration date. Knick-knacks around the house have to be in a certain place. I line up the bathroom scale on a certain tile in the vinyl floor...and so on. People who don't live with me assume I am just a "neat freak" and have no idea the anxiety and stress I get under.
There is just no rhyme or reason with the compulsive activities that I do. I can have a dirty kitchen with a sink full of dishes...but I will be sorting things in the cabinets-making sure everything is "in its place".
*Obsessional thoughts over people being harmed*
Some of these have no compulsional activities that go with them...like I frequently have thoughts about my husband being in a car or plane accident. If he goes on a business trip and has to fly (which he does near the end of the month) I am a nervous wreck the entire time. I have frequent thoughts of my son dying...most of the time the visions and thoughts are about him drowning. I trust him with my parents, but if he is with my in-laws I cannot relax-and it is almost all I think about.
As a child I would count the steps in my head as I walked up a flight of stairs...or I would space out in the classroom and count ceiling tiles, markings on the floor, or watch the clock and count the minutes as they went by. As an adult I have laid in bed many nights unable to "shut off my brain" to relax and go to sleep...and I end up doing counting rituals in my head-often not falling asleep until 2-3 hours after my husband does. Mostly it is adding up the numbers in the numbers displayed on the alarm clock.
I am also a list maker...I keep track of EVERYTHING. It is good in some things-I am great at keeping my weight loss journal-diligently writing in all my food and exercise and such...but it is excessive. My to-do lists look like college outlines.
I am a wiz at the grocery store...often finding ways to save $20-$30 a week with using doubled coupons and things like that.
I am a costume maker/seamstress and a belly dancer-so I always pay great attention to detail when I sew...I always remember the choreography from a number our dance troupe does (I am often pegged "dance captain" of a certain song because I memorize the choreography and all the music cues involved) so for what I do professionally it can be an asset...but at the same time it is a curse. I can't relax and I am getting to the point where I just feel mentally exhausted all of the time. Like my brain is just worn out.
I have never taken medications for my OCD...and this past week has been a turning point. I am an emotional overeater-and I have binge episodes when I am severely stressed-and this is where it has been the past week. I have lost so much weight and accomplished so much-and I feel like I am going to lose control of that...and my sanity if I don't start taking something. This is a big thing for someone who doesn't even like taking a Tylenol.
My mom and stepfather understand...as OCD is often hereditary-and my mother and grandmother both show signs of OCD. My father and stepmother don't though-and I am trying to explain it to them. They think I am overextended...and if I would only not dance so much, or take less sewing jobs that I wouldn't be as stressed. I had to explain to my stepmother yesterday that if I wasn't stressed out over any of that...that it was the constant thoughts, straightening things, and stressing over the things that don't matter that do it. If I worked less I would have more time to fold and refold the bathtowels until they were just right.
I look forward to talking with everyone...and hopefully giving and getting support-and having a laugh or two together. I am all for humor as a means of therapy.
Thank you both for responding...and to anyone else that does as well. It feels good to know there is support out there for our emotional issues as well as our fitness and weight goals.