September 15, 2013

OCD, Panic Attacks and Anxiety

I've debated for a while about writing about this.  It's not something I tell most people but it is a big part of my life and something I struggle with every day.  I tried to have a separate blog about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder but couldn't keep up with 2 blogs.  I know it helped me when I first realized what I was dealing with to read about other people with OCD.  It helped me feel like I couldn't be too crazy to hear about others struggling with some of the same issues.  It gave me hope to read about how people have learned to deal with obsessions and compulsions and to lead regular lives.  I realize now that I started to notice signs of OCD when I was 18 even though at the time I didn't know that's what it was.  Twelve years later, I've learned to manage my OCD with medication and calming techniques.  I'm not always successful and there have been times when my anxiety has definitely controlled me.

When I first started to exhibit signs of OCD,  I didn't know what it was.  I just knew that when I was walking, I was worried about stepping on a band aid, a condom (you'd be surprised how many of these are lying around in parking lots and in the grass), or any other random thing on the ground that could spread germs.  I would constantly watch the ground as I walked to make sure I didn't step on anything.  This was a lot of work as one of my favorite past times at the time was to go for really long walks. If I thought I stepped too close to something I would retrace my steps.  Sometimes multiple times.

I started doing other weird things at the time as well.  I was afraid that whenever I hit a bump while driving, I'd accidentally hit a person and I would have to drive around the block to make sure someone wasn't lying dead in the road.

If I touched something "dirty", I could still feel it on my skin even after washing my hands multiple times.  I would have to check the doors and windows 4 or 5 times to make sure they were locked and the oven to make sure it was off before I could go to bed. 

It didn't all happen at once.  It started out slowly.  I started thinking about how if I touch something with my shoe.  Then the germs could then be transferred to the bottom of my pants.  So if I touched my pants I would be contaminated.

My obsessions have evolved over time, I've been able to learn ways to cope with some so that the urge to act out a compulsion isn't as strong or I don't have to spend as long to get over it.   It just seems like there are always new worries and compulsions to add to the list.

I didn't even realize it was OCD until my husband (boyfriend at the time) was talking to a nurse at work and she told him that she thought I had OCD.  Even then it didn't really sink in.  I couldn't have OCD.  I'm just a germaphobe.  It took a while for me to accept what I was really going through.


  1. I don't think you should feel bad over something like that. Show me a normal person and I'll show you someone who is lying.

    Though I am not OCD, I once met a girl who ended up being a germaphobe but didn't know it at the time. She must've been 17 or 18. The most unfortunate thing? She worked with me at the hotel. Not sure about you, but that's a horrible place to be conscious of germs, what with picking up silverware, plates and napkins, being close to people and handling their things. She quit before long for a much nicer desk job, but while she was there, she was always washing her hands and carried a mini sanitizer. We'd help her out, but it's hard to do when most of your job is involved with the cleaning and reorganizing of things touched by other people.

    1. At this point in my life, I've accepted that its the way I am. I've learned to deal with it. But I've noticed that whenever I tell people, they tend to treat me different. Nothing makes me madder than someone asking me if I remembered to take my meds when I'm upset about something. Which is something my mom loves to do. Which is why only a few close friends and family members even know.

      It amazes me at some of the jobs I used to have and how I was able to deal with them, touching money all the time as a cashier or cleaning the restrooms at a fast food place (that didn't last long.) If there is one good thing about having this anxiety its shown me how strong I can be. I will not let it hold me back... I just might have a few panic attacks along the way. :)

  2. I really feel for you. This will likely never go away but it sounds like you are coping with it well.

    My husband has some OCD tendencies and they get much worse when he is stressed out.