Remember that concert you went to? The music was perfect, your band opened with your favorite song and closed the concert with your second favorite song? Remember, you made eye contact with the lead singer? No? You don’t remember? You don’t remember because ocd had you so focused on the possibility that at some point during this long anticipated concert you would have to use a porta potty. You were so focused on this fear that you completely missed these great moments. You were there, but you weren’t “there”. I’ve noticed looking back in my life that I have wasted or lost so much time due to my OCD.
There are so many instances in my life that I have no recollection of because instead of being present in the moment, I was lost in OCD world. My sister will talk to me and say things like, “Hey, Mary. Do you remember when you were five and you did such-and-such? Remember we used to play this game? Remember?” I sit there blank, “No. No I don’t remember.”
I heard a song the other day that reminded me of a time when I was 19. My brother went to a camp for baseball and when he was gone, I bought him this bike that he had really wanted. It would be a nice surprise for him upon returning home. When I gave him the bike, I had a picture taken of me standing with him with his new bike. Looking at the picture, I’m smiling and looking completely happy. No one would have ever guessed what was actually going through my mind. I look at this picture and barely remember any enjoyment. Instead, this picture is tainted and reminds me of what OCD was telling me at the time, that I must have HIV from this “exposure” at my job. It wasn’t even an exposure but in my mind, ocd said it was. I didn’t enjoy the reality of the situation or his excitement because I was so consumed with these thoughts.
This quality time I could be having with my family or my loved ones becomes broken. I am not there, I am with my ocd.
We are being robbed of these experiences because these experiences that are supposed to be good are damaged by the ocd world. This time is being spent on fear of something that’s most likely not going to happen, most of the things we worry about in life never become a reality. OCD just wants you to believe that.
Recovery. This word gets thrown around so much with OCD. Many people hear recovery and think this means a person is cured. I know when I used to read the word “recover”, I thought, “Wow! That means that I can get over ocd. One day I am going to be in a position where it’s vanished!”
On my channel I keep pretty upbeat composure. I try to be and I think a lot of people just think that I don’t deal with ocd anymore, which is not true. Every day in my life I struggle with ocd. OCD is there every day. It’s there when I wake up. It’s there when i go to bed. It’s there when I work. OCD is ALWAYS there.
Recovery, to me, is not getting OCD to go away, because in my experience and from my point of view it doesn’t go away. It’s livable. You may have times where you keep the beast at bay and you don’t experience a lot of the OCD symptoms and it’s pretty mild, it’s tame for a bit of time. For me, however, it has always come back. OCD has never gone away ever, but it has calmed down and that made things a lot easier for me but it is still always there.
I have always said, and this will really anger other people that claim that you can get rid of OCD and that it’s just going to go away. They say “do this or do that and you won’t have ocd anymore”. Well I wish there was a magical cure but from what I’ve seen there isn’t one, and from the people that I talk to there is no cure.
Recovery is an everyday work in progress. It’s not like you go to a therapist for weeks or months, years even and then all of a sudden become ocd free. Recovery requires effort every day of your life.
Look at drug addicts, heroin. When you hear somebody’s in recovery from heroin you don’t say to yourself “they’re over it, they don’t do it anymore”. The urge is still there and most of the time they take a medication to keep them from using but they’re in recovery their whole life, they’re fighting that battle every day. Same goes with ocd. The amount of effort you put in is what determines the quality of your life with ocd.
No amount of proof will ever outweigh a “what if” with your ocd. “What if’s” always win.
About a year ago, my husband, kids, puppy and I went on a trip to Pennsylvania. A situation occurred where we all had to use a public restroom, which was absolutely dreadful for me that my kids would be using a public toilet. If you have contamination OCD, I am sure you understand this. there was no choice in the situation so I figured “hey, if we’re going to do this I will use it first and I will sanitize the whole restroom with lysol spray. I’m also going to scrutinize the whole restroom to make sure there’s no blood, no poop, no weird wetness anywhere on the floor, the sink, or the toilet.” This is my normal routine if I’m going to use a restroom before my kids.
As I entered the restroom I checked out everything. I looked at all the things I mentioned above, and then also the doorknob and the floor. While sanitizing everything, I didn’t see anything that would really freak me out.
I had etched in my mind that this bathroom was totally fine to use. I looked at EVERYTHING. I used the toilet and go to wash my hands.
Earlier that morning while we were packing up to leave to head home, I was playing with my puppy. While trying to remove the toy in his mouth, he cut my finger with his tooth enough to where it was bleeding pretty badly and I had it bandaged.
During my visit to the restroom, I noticed my cut needed to be re-wrapped. So I remove the bandage, which I am very uncomfortable doing in a public restroom because I feel like i’m opening myself up to contamination . However, I removed the old bandage and washed in the sink. As I walked across the room for a paper towel, I noticed my hand was still bleeding. I dry my hands and I figured when I get back outside I’ll just get another band-aid from the truck and rebandage outside. I leave the restroom and my child goes in to use the toilet.
Upon returning from the restroom, my daughter says, “Mom, I think there’s blood on the floor in that restroom.”
Shocked I replied, “What do you mean? I checked it out and there was no blood!”
So I go back and I look because I cannot figure out how there could possibly be blood on the floor when I checked so thoroughly. Apparently when I crossed the room to get a paper towel I dripped some blood, and with the water on my hands it gave a red tint across the floor. It was a direct trail from the sink to the paper towels. I realized it was from me, cleaned it up carefully without touching it and returned to the truck to explain to the kids.
Now, I was totally positive that this was my blood. No one went into the bathroom after myself until my child did, I was absolutely sure it was my blood. After we were all finished using the restroom, we were back in the road for another five hours.
About ten minutes pass since leaving the restroom and it’s complete panic in my mind. ” You idiot! What if it wasn’t your blood and you touched it!? I know you are confident it was your blood and you also didn’t touch it, but what if you did? What if it got on your hands somehow and now you’re going to spread hep c or hiv or something else to your kids? What if they stepped in it? What if it wasn’t really yours? What if you just didn’t see it when you went in even though you scrutinized the entire bathroom and sprayed it all down with lysol?”.
NO AMOUNT of proof will EVER outweigh a “what if”. During the time of panic I should have said ” you know what? I’m uncertain about it but if this happens and my kids get sick it’s out of my hands. Right now what am I able to do? Just because they used the bathroom where there was some blood on the floor does not mean that they’re going to get ill and die.”.
I slowly began to calm down but yet I was replaying the moment I walked in the restroom, “could i have missed it?”
I finally after about three hours came to that moment of, “okay. It’s okay. You know it was yours and you have nothing to worry about and just accept it and even if it wasn’t your blood, time will tell and you will deal with what comes at you.”
Here I am, one year later and I don’t give one thought to it. Actually, a day or two after it happened I didn’t give a thought to it. What I’m saying is, in that moment when you have all the proof in the world, you have to trust your mind. You need to trust yourself a little bit. ” What ifs” will come in and they’re going to torment you and they’re going to push you to question it anyway, but trust yourself and accept the uncertainty. With OCD, this is how we get stronger.
For a video about this real story click below. Also be sure to check out my other OCD related videos😊