A woman visits her dermatologist, complaining of extremely dry skin and seldom feeling clean. She showers for two hours every day.
A lawyer insists on making coffee several times each day. His colleagues do not realize that he lives in fear that the coffee will be poisoned, and he feels compelled to pour most of it down the drain. The lawyer is so obsessed with these thoughts that he spends 12 hours a day at work -- four of them worrying about contaminated coffee.
A man cannot bear to throw anything away. Junk mail, old newspapers, empty milk cartons all "could contain something valuable that might be useful someday." If he throws things away, "something terrible will happen." He hoards so much clutter that he can no longer walk through his house. Insisting that nothing be thrown away, he moves to another house where he continues to hoard.
A 10 year old girl keeps apologizing for "disturbing" her class. She feels that she is too restless and is clearing her throat too loudly. Her teachers are puzzled and over time become annoyed at her repeated apologies since they did not notice any sounds or movements. She is also preoccupied with "being good all the time".
These people suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. In each individual suffering from the disorder it manifests in a different way.
again from nami.org:
Obsessions are intrusive, irrational thoughts -- unwanted ideas or impulses that repeatedly well up in a person's mind. Again and again, the person experiences disturbing thoughts, such as "My hands must be contaminated; I must wash them"; "I may have left the gas stove on"; "I am going to injure my child." On one level, the sufferer knows these obsessive thoughts are irrational. But on another level, he or she fears these thoughts might be true. Trying to avoid such thoughts creates great anxiety.Some people can have the obsessions without any significant compulsions to go with them. My obsessive thoughts start at the lower end with things such as worrying that someone is poking fun at me, fear of embarrassment. Towards the middle it is things like worrying my family will be in a car accident or that my husband will leave me. I have obsessive thoughts on the extreme end of the spectrum too which I never talk about because they are just too awful.
Compulsions are repetitive rituals such as handwashing, counting, checking, hoarding, or arranging. An individual repeats these actions, perhaps feeling momentary relief, but without feeling satisfaction or a sense of completion. People with OCD feel they must perform these compulsive rituals or something bad will happen.
Most people at one time or another experience obsessive thoughts or compulsive behaviors. Obsessive-compulsive disorder occurs when an individual experiences obsessions and compulsions for more than an hour each day, in a way that interferes with his or her life.
OCD is often described as "a disease of doubt." Sufferers experience "pathological doubt" because they are unable to distinguish between what is possible, what is probable, and what is unlikely to happen.
My compulsions are on the more mild end of things, I constantly pick at my skin, sometimes I have to check things and I like to count or measure things. I am also constantly seeking reassurance, apologizing or asking permission for silly things.
The anxiety comes from either the thoughts or, in a much lesser sense, from not being able to complete a compulsion.
Why all of this? I guess I got my "official" diagnosis yesterday. I had an appointment with the psychiatry department regarding medication. The therapists that I saw before said it was anxiety and that with some behavioural therapy I would be able to come off of meds at some point, mostly because my compulsions are so insignificant. This lady asked some different, leading, questions about my obsessive thoughts (on the more extreme end) and got a different sort of picture. I have never before told anyone about the thoughts that I told her, I couldn't help but burst into tears. So here we are. I started meds yesterday and I feel terrible. I have a stomach ache and feel a little dizzy, nothing extreme, it sort of feels a little like a mild hangover. Hopefully this will pass and I will start to feel better soon.
More OCD links -
So as I don't end this with something so miserable, here's a picture that Raidhyn took of Mikey and I early yesterday morning!
Sorry, that was a crazy long post.