I am 20 years old and in college. I have lived with my obsessive behavior my entire life. It was just this year that I picked up my roommate’s book on mental disorders and discovered with a chilling certainty that I wasn’t alone in this world. I have OCD.
I am astonished at the similarities between my obsessions and the obsessions of others on this site. When I was very small, I was obsessed with the idea that I had AIDS. Somewhere I heard about it, and I was absolutely convinced that I had it. This later became an obsession with appendicitis, bone cancer, and I even believed I was pregnant when I was 12 (although I was a virgin). I would become absolutely convinced that these diseases were what I had, although intellectually I could tell myself that they were not. I was unable to divorce the certainty of their existence from my mind, even though I didn’t “believe” it. I still believed it, against my will. Another thing I struggled with as a child was the concept of death and eternity. I would become convinced that I was going to die when I woke up in the morning. I was terrified being alone. I literally could not be left alone for about 4 years of my life. If I was left alone in a dressing room or the car at the store I had a panic attack. I followed my mother everywhere; I had to be in the same room as her. I become terrified of the moon. I wouldn’t look at it. I hated pictures of it.
I don’t know if this is part of the OCD or something else, but as I child I was very masochistic. I would take pine cones and thorns and rocks and hurt myself and prick myself and savor the pain. It was so twisted and messed up. I was in complete denial that this was twisted and sick for a long time. I came to do this emotionally too as a teenager. I would date guys who I knew would hurt me, and when they made me cry and cry I would almost enjoy the pain because it was what felt normal and “homey” to me. Bad was good, good was bad. Pain was good. Things that were comforting and peaceful and pleasurable were somehow “bad” and I had to sabotage things like good relationships. The OCD always found a way to make me doubt all things good, and I began hearing “voices” in earnest when I was in high school.
I fantasized about death a lot. I lost a lot of weight and was always in a state of internal conflict with my obsessive mind. It got better again for me when I was in the last years of high school. Then I went to college.
My freshman year of college was horrible. I believed I was going insane. My mind was like a dim roar, it was very difficult to study or concentrate because of all the “white noise” inside. I feared the world was going to end, I feared all sorts of decisions I had to make, I feared responsibilities I had to shoulder. I became paralyzed about decision making. I couldn’t sleep at night because the thoughts pounded me over and over like a hammer. They became long sing-song trains in my head that repeated for hours. I couldn’t hear myself think.
This past summer was better. The noise abated. I was doing well. I returned to college this semester and the horror descended again. Right now, I am fighting it with everything in me. When obsessive thoughts crowd everything else out I think NO!! very very firmly and I refuse to let myself think them. This frequently does not work, but for me identifying what I have always struggled with as a sickness has helped tremendously.
On the side, I have always been obsessed with plans, backup plans, back up back up plans, time, schedules, lists, etc. I am neurotic about lists and planning. I no longer try to hurt myself physically. I can tell what was an episode when I look back on it, but I still deal with them every day. This is a very lonely torturous existence sometimes.