Home > Behavior, Personal, Random Thoughts > O.C.D.Epiphany


November 2, 2007

Well I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything and I apologize. This whole Senate Bill thing has left me so physically and mentally drained that I haven’t had much time for anything else other than work lately.

I started off today with the intention of writing something about my latest obsession in collecting, G.I. Joes, just so that I could say that I wrote something. Yea I know that’s kind of a cop-out but “hey I’ve been fuckin’ busy, and that’s not how it worked out anyways. So no harm, no foul… right?”

I often joke about having O.C.D. (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) because of my obsessive collecting of things and need to have them neatly organized and displayed… no matter what they are. I’ve always had these tendencies and they run in my family. With my aunt and grandmother its M&M figures, with my uncle its die-cast NASCAR models, and for me it used to be CD’s. I would spend entire paychecks at Sam Goodie and Media Play on CD’s and hours meticulously categorizing, organizing, and cleaning them each week. Then it was DVD’s, Homies, Low-Rider cars, and books. Now Transformers and more recently G.I. Joes have been added to the ranks of useless shit that I’ve started collecting.

Despite all the jokes and ribbing, I’ve never actually taken the time to read anything about this disease. I had no clue as to what it actually was or any or the symptoms until today. During my half assed blog entry, I made a half assed reference to it and decided to check it out for myself… “Ya gotta love Google!”

listed the symptoms as this:

Symptoms may include some, all, or perhaps none of the following:

  • Repeated hand washing.
  • Repeated clearing of the throat, although nothing may need to be cleared.
  • Specific counting systems — e.g., counting in groups of four, arranging objects in groups of three, grouping objects in odd/even numbered groups, etc.
  • One serious symptom which stems from this is “counting” steps — e.g., feeling the necessity to take 12 steps to the car in the morning.
  • Perfectly aligning objects at complete, absolute right angles, or aligning objects perfectly parallel etc. This symptom is shared with OCPD and can be confused with this condition unless it is realized that in OCPD it is not stress-related.
  • Having to “cancel out” bad thoughts with good thoughts. Examples of bad thoughts are:
  • Imagining harming a child and having to imagine a child playing happily to cancel it out.
  • Sexual obsessions or unwanted sexual thoughts. Two classic examples are fear of being homosexual or fear of being a pedophile. In both cases, sufferers will obsess over whether or not they are genuinely aroused by the thoughts.
  • Strange and chronic worried about certain events such as sleeping, eating, leaving home, etc without proper items. An example would be one who literally can’t fall asleep without a metronome.
  • A fear of contamination (see Mysophobia); some sufferers may fear the presence of human body secretions such as saliva, sweat, tears, vomit, or mucus, or excretions such as urine or feces. Some OCD sufferers even fear that the soap they’re using is contaminated.
  • A need for both sides of the body to feel even. A person with OCD might walk down a sidewalk and step on a crack with the ball of their left foot, then feel the need to step on another crack with the ball of their right foot. If one hand gets wet, the sufferer may feel very uncomfortable if the other is not. If the sufferer is walking and bumps into something, he/she may hit the object or person back to feel a sense of evenness. These symptoms are also experienced in a reversed manner. Some sufferers would rather things to be uneven, favoring the preferred side of the body.
  • An obsession with numbers (be it in maths class, watching TV, or in the room). Some people are obsessed with even numbers while loathing odd numbers (they cause them a great deal of anxiety and often make the person uncomfortable or even angry) or vice versa.
  • Twisting the head on a toy around, then twisting it all the way back exactly in the opposite direction.(see even body section)

“Motherfucker! I have all of those, and I don’t mean just a little bit either, that entire article couldn’t have been more about me if it had my fuckin’ name, address, and social security number at the top!”

I don’t do the “hand washing” thing, but I compulsively clean my ears. If I see a Q-tip I can’t help it, I have to take three of them out and clean my ears, even if I just did it an hour ago. Needless to say, my wife has learned to hide them, I can go through a whole box in a week if they’re left out, but if I don’t see them; “No problem”. *weird*

Some of the other things I do never even crossed my mind as being O.C.D. related; constantly clearing my throat, counting things/steps, aligning things in perfect parallels or right angles, obsession with even numbers, and public bathrooms? “Fugetaboutit, I could catch something“. *fuck*

It wasn’t until less than a month ago that I was able to cook chicken for the first time since I moved out on my own, for fear of salmonella. Less than a year since I’ve been able to cook pork, and I burnt the shit out of it just so that I could make sure that it was done all the way through. I love chicken, and sausage is one of my favorite foods, but unless someone else cooks it I worry about stupid shit like that. Microwave chicken patties and nuggets; I can eat them like I’m an Ethiopian because I know they are already cooked, but no go on buying raw poultry and preparing it myself. *geezus*

The only good thing that came out of reading that article is that it put to rest (slightly) one of my phobias. I’ve never admitted this to anyone, or even spoken it out loud, until now. But I’ve literally lost sleep staying awake at night, worrying myself sick, to the point of feeling physically nauseous, because I was afraid that I might turn into a pedophile. I’ve gone as far as to plan out what I would do, and what I would say to my family before I left if it actually got those urges.


In an attempt to further relate the immense distress that those afflicted with this condition must bear, Barlow and Durand (2006) use the following example. They implore readers not to think of pink elephants. Their point lies in the assumption that most people will immediately create an image of a pink elephant in their minds, even though told not to do so. The more one attempts to stop thinking of these colorful animals, the more one will continue to generate these mental images. This phenomenon is termed the “Thought Avoidance Paradox”, and it plagues those with OCD on a daily basis, for no matter how hard one tries to get these disturbing images and thoughts out of one’s mind, feelings of distress and anxiety inevitably prevail. Although everyone may experience unpleasant thoughts at one time or another, these are usually warranted concerns that are short-lived and fade after an adequate time period has lapsed. However, this is not the case for OCD sufferers.

It’s that whole “pink elephant” thing alluded to in the article on Wikipedia. You see something on TV or read a news article about a child molester, and you have that image in your head. You tell yourself to not to think about those type of things even though they are not fantasies, and the more you try to “not think about it”, the more it weighs on your mind. It starts this whole downward spiral and you start to wander, “If I can’t stop thinking about it, does it make me one?” “Could I ever hurt my daughter the way he hurt his child?”

Of coarse not! The mere thought of it is repulsive, and to say it out loud (or even see it in type) sounds’ fucking ridiculous, but that doesn’t stop you from working yourself into a suicidal depression over it… literally.suicidal.

I’m not sure how I feel about it now that I’m thoroughly convinced that I actually have O.C.D. I’m not a medical doctor and I don’t have any kind of medical background, but damn near every sentence in that article pertained to me, it sent chills down my spine with every word. It was funny to make a joke about having it when I didn’t think that I actually had it because everyone would be laughing with me, but now it’ll be more like they’re all laughing at me instead.

I guess the discomfort is a small price to pay for the peace of mind that it gives over other things, but it doesn’t mean I have to like it. One thing is for sure, I’m defiantly going to follow this up with a proper medical exam, and maybe I’ll self medicate myself tonight just for good measure… I’m just kidding, the days of partying and illegal drugs are long over for me. Seriously though, I don’t think it can hurt to get it checked out and maybe get some treatment. I’m noticing that the older and more set in my ways I get; the more vocal I am about things and it’s starting to cause problems in my home life. Nothing major yet, but the writing’s on the wall and it’d be better to take care of it now than wait until it’s too late and try to piece something together that’s already broken.

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  1. November 2, 2007 at 4:29 pm
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