As in the case of many sufferers, OCD has taken on many forms during my life, ranging from compulsive hand-washing to paranoia about AIDS.
Then there was, of course, “If I don’t get out of the bathroom within five seconds, my mother will die”, and all that kind of rubbish. The biggest, most destructive and enduring form for me though has been obsessions that my partners have been unfaithful, and seizing upon any tiny little scrap of “evidence” possible to back up these thoughts. “Evidence” can be absolutely anything, a look or something said, or objects I see that will somehow trigger off a bizarre and labyrinthine chain of thought. Any such piece of “evidence” that comes my way will be processed and re-processed maybe fifty times, and looked at from every possible angle, and combined with any other existing pieces of “evidence” before being placed carefully into a type of mental archive to retrieve again at a later date. I have had a couple of ex-boyfriends who I pretty much squeezed information out of, trying to dispel my obsessions, but anything I heard that didn’t quite fit into my schema or the stories I had fabricated in my mind just made the obsessions worse.
About 4 months ago now, these thoughts suddenly really grabbed hold of me again in a relationship with a new partner, and started to manifest themselves every day and in all areas of my life. I first thought they had been triggered by stress from work, but I know it is not just that. I try and let the stuff out by keeping a diary, which I now write in very often, where I just let everything out that comes into my head. Shame the entire diary is pretty much just devoted to my OCD torment now, I don’t really list details of nice things that I do. To me my diary is like a friend, a confidante who I can tell anything without fear of judgment and let my thoughts out so that they can stop ricocheting inside my head. The thoughts must appear so bizarre and irrational to other people, apart from fellow OCD sufferers I guess, but that’s it – we are not rational, no matter how hard we try – our brains are hard-wired to look for any trace of doubt or “evidence”, as I see it, that something is amiss in a situation and to then rehash and rehash this piece of information and combine it with other pieces of information and search for any inconsistencies that exist. There are no absolute answers though, and no truth can never come from this process, and that’s what is hard to accept.
As a result, I am not afraid to fall in love, but there is always a barrier there as my self-defense mechanism, it’s like I am preparing myself for the worst and for being hurt, I even rehearse phrases and scenarios in my head so if someone hurt me, I know what I would say and how I would react. I am trying to get better, I am trying not to “check” things and to look for “evidence” but it is hard. I think I used to be worse though, I would go through my ex-boyfriends’ rooms actually opening drawers and looking for anything that would show they were in a relationship with someone else. If I found an old letter or photograph or something, it was a sickening feeling but in a creepy way almost also a feeling of triumph, in the sense of “Aha! I knew it!” And I think that was the OCD feeling like it had been proven right. It is crazy because the things I store in my head are totally inconsequential to most people, but to me they are everything, I wish I could just wipe the slate clean. I am not like this constantly, but I would say I get a couple of “pangs” and one pretty big attack at least once a day most days, where the thoughts can be whirling around for anything from half an hour to most of the night, depending on the situation and environment. In my current relationship, things started off really rosy and perfect, but then the horrible OCD reared its head a few months back and then I got mega insecure and pretty much had a breakdown as a result, I just could not stand to be in social situations any more. It’s weird, now when I am out somewhere in the pub, on the phone or sitting in the kitchen at home I can have a conversation but my mind is somewhere else completely, so I can say the right thing almost on autopilot while my head is totally full of confusing, repetitive and destructive thoughts. I can still function fairly normally on the surface, even though the torment I feel inside is so immense. I want, I really want to just be able to relax and to focus on the conversations I have with people. I do not want to be consumed with jealousy and fear and obsession any more. I want to enjoy my life finally, and not look at people with suspicion and doubt in my mind, but to just enjoy their company and to believe that they actually mean me no harm.
As an afterthought, I have also recently tried to get a little more into Buddhism, I read another guy’s story on the page and I totally agree that it is a good approach for recognizing your thoughts for what they are – they are not the truth, and all they are doing is blinding you to what is real. I know this is logical, still, I really have to control myself and focus hard to realize that all this pain is coming from within myself.