I have OCD.
I (finally) admit that I do, and starting therapy in January confirmed that. My therapist and I went over the symptoms of OCD and I fit most of the categories–the obsessive thoughts, compulsive behavior, anxiety. I think that if I asked my friends if they ever thought something was wrong, they would probably say that they suspected it, but didn’t think too much about it. They’re clean, but not as clean as me.
I’m obsessed with my mouth and hands being clean. I don’t want to get sick. I feel germs go onto my lips from the bathroom sink, when I open or close the stall door or when I’m walking and it’s windy. I wash or wipe–sometimes both–my lips. At home I do that in addition to mouthwash. If I touch something dirty like a door knob, I feel the germs on my hands and use hand sanitizer. I carry that and Wet Ones hand wipes with me. If I don’t have those two items I’m anxious. I feel comfort knowing that I have a supply of both at home too.
This was a gradual increase and started in 6th grade. My mom was in the hospital for food poisoning and my dad and I went to see her. She did not look good. That prompted me to write a report on food safety and bacteria for my science class, and it stuck. My parents were always clean freaks, being in the medical field, and passed it on to me. But I think the report made me unconsciously OCD, if that makes sense. It started with hand sanitizer, then I discovered Wet Ones and from that one time in 2013 I washed my lips, I’ve been doing that ever since.
I didn’t want to go to therapy. I thought that I wasn’t THAT bad. I knew that I could handle this by myself. It wasn’t interfering with my daily living.
I was wrong, and after my parents and boyfriend brought up therapy more than once I decided to go. I felt terrible that I needed someone to help me with my problem.
But it’s working. I’m making slow progress, and that’s all fine and well according to my therapist. I’m learning coping strategies when faced with a germ situation. I’m slowly rewiring my thinking from “I HAVE to wash my mouth/lips” to “I THINK/FEEL like I have to wash my mouth/lips.”
I still have a long way to go, but my goal is to be aware of germs and not obsessed about being clean. I want to be like how I was in college: not wash my lips and only clean my hands when necessary.
Is it possible? I have no idea. But this is a journey, and it’s going to be long. However, I’m ready and taking it one day at a time.
Besides, it can be worse.