I have known since I was a little girl, that not stepping on the cracks in the sidewalk felt more serious to me than it was to other kids. Every one do properly remember that impulse from when they were young and it is perhaps the inspiration to the saying “Step on a crack. Break your mother’s back”.
I don’t know the exact age I first noticed that I had the tendency to both obsessive and compulsive behaviour and mental acts. But I do know that I was very aware that i “had” to hide the behaviour from both teachers and other kids when I started in preschool. It was not that hard because I was already good to hide the symptoms from my family. I knew that the behaviour and mental acts was abnormal and that was reason enough to hide it from others. I did not have any knowledge about OCD and had never heard about anyone else with the disorder. I thought that I was the only person in the world that had these impulses af regard to behaviour and mentalt acts. Of course that was not the case. But never the less I have had that feeling for a very long time.
As a child I felt that I if I did not do specific things bad things would happen to the people I cared for. One of my biggest fears was to be left alone because of some kind of accident would kill my family and that I was to blame. Today I know it was a irrational fear but as a child it felt very real and rational. I used a lot of time to prevent bad things from happening, I would spend hours and hours doing the same things over and over again.
I was terrified that I would make contaminate and be the cause of sickness in others. This resulted in excessive cleaning rituals, avoidance of things and places and last but least behaviour that would make up for “mistakes” i had done. A classic in therms of OCD is excessive hand washing and this was a classic thing for me as well. I would was my hands up and over 200 times a day and at the same time use large quantities of disinfection gel, which lead to dry skin, small ulcers and in worse case scenarios infections. I was convinced that if I did not feel clean I would contaminate others with potentially dangerous bacteria and/or illnesses. This convinced me that I had to clean my hands very often and at the same time avoid things I thought could be infected and/or contaminated in any way. I was convinced that me being contaminated would be a health risk for all the people around me. In retrospect I think that is it a major burden for a child to bare, the responsibility of other peoples wellbeing and health.
I still have compulsions to excessive cleaning and hand wash. When I started therapy my therapist at the time somehow saw right through me and on my symptoms and then told me about OCD. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder it made perfectly sense! I was at the same time relived and terrified! Terrified because I knew that I now had to tell someone about all my rituals and relived because it meant that I could get some help and that i did not need to keep it as a secret anymore. Though the years I have spend a considerate amount of time fighting the OCD and I still fight it every single day. The compulsions from when I was a child have not disappeared, no they are very much still here. I have to deal with them on a daily basis but the difference is that now I am able to withstand the compulsions and obsessions and not act upon them. I have spend unbelievable long time trying to fight the OCD, trying to make it stay at a sustainable niveau. The main thing is not to cure the OCD, I do not even know if that is possible, it is to get it down to a level that does not interfear with your daily life.
At the moment I have my OCD under relatively control but how much I am in control depends of the level of stress I am under generally. In periodes where I am very stressed the OCD gets “bigger” and gains more control and I have to stay aware and fight extra hard to keep it at a lower level. It is a never ending battle and I have lots of obsessions and compulsions I have not mentioned and if i had to this post would be even longer. Therapy have helped me though and I use the tool I have gotten through therapy every single day and I strive to be as OCD free as possible.