I have other existing problems, which I recognize are not OCD but perhaps a part of it. I have done a little “research” over the last few years…many scattered readings on websites, in books, in psychology magazines, etc. etc. Anyways, here is my summary ­though I am leaving out a lot of things.­ I could go into my childhood and all this but for readability I will write as minimally as I can. (This will still be long).
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I feel that I have no control over the direction of my thoughts the majority of the time. My mind seems incapable of staying in the “here” and “now” no matter how hard I try. Sometimes meditation works but only when the time and place is right. My thoughts are often abruptly pulled in one direction or another as though there are several magnets inside my head with varied strengths, and I am a flimsy, whimsical little piece of metal kind of hovering in the middle of it all. I can be doing something very important or be in the middle of a conversation when an intrusive thought will enter my head, or a sudden compulsion will occur. (For example, I might have to stand up, or leave the room). Many times I won’t absorb information because I am too busy consciously trying to focus my attention on the present stimulus¡­ it’s a little ironic that I’m too distracted trying to pay attention that I can’t register what is being said! This has caused many problems for me at work and school. I may have dropped out of school had I not found an alternative, self directed school program (which was conveniently located five minutes walking distance from my house!! A gem!!). At work, I am able to maintain my jobs but often end up leaving them after short periods. I’ve been working since I was 15 and already in 4 years I have had 15 jobs. (For fun I will list them¡­ and FYI I am listing from earliest to latest. ­Cashier at a fast food restaurant, *hiatus*, Babysitter, Floral Assistant at a Supermarket, Market Researcher, Hostess at a fancy Restaurant, Waitress at a crappy family Restaurant, *hiatus*, Deli Girl at a Supermarket, Laundry Attendant, Insulator –this one lasted two weeks!–, Truck Stop Waitress, Secretary, Waitress at a slightly nicer Family Restaurant, Shooter Girl/Bar Waitress, Receptionist, Bartender.) Carrying on¡­
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My obsessions though sometimes positive, are more often quite harmful to me. Obsessive, intrusive thoughts have affected my relationships, friendships, work experiences, and schooling. An intrusive magnet will power up in my head and before I know it I am obsessing over things like Where am I going/What am I doing with my life (This is a daily, seemingly ceaseless, inundating thought accompanied by its great companion, Panic A. Tack). Another set of intrusive thoughts that enter my head are my childhood memories. I think about bad memories mostly, and try to figure out how I came to this point, and how it relates to my mental health problems today.
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Physical appearance has been a huge obsession for me. – in high school I would sometimes spend whole evenings literally glued to the mirror, redoing my makeup, compulsively smearing it all over my face, washing my face, re-applying my make up, etc. My figure has been obsessed over since age 10, when I first began experiencing distress over my weight.
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Another obsession is the accumulation of money. “I must have over X amount of money to feel happy/secure.” Often once I’ve reached a goal I will raise my standard, “Now I must have this much more money to feel secure.” In this way my anxiety and obsession with money never leaves me. I first began obsessing over money when my father was fired from his job a couple years ago and I realized that my parents were in a huge debt. I felt so guilty for taking all their money and I never wanted to ever be in that situation.
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After social situations I get incredibly stressed/depressed/ashamed and examine everything that had happened, everything I said and did, and I will often find myself repeating conversations partially out loud, changing everything I said wrong into something right, then rehearsing and planning ways in which I can redeem myself the next time.
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In relationships my obsession turns to “am I good enough?” in all aspects and I become distressed, depressed, anxious, etc. I fret about my hair, how ‘good’ of a girlfriend I am.. “Am I up to his standard? Am I pleasing him? Does he think I’m pretty? Does he think I’m interesting? He knows too much about me, how can he possibly still like/love me? Does he still want to be with me now that he has met my family? Why is he with me?” My obsessions also turn to my partner as I examine him and get incredibly distressed trying to measure if he is up to societies standards, if he fits in with my family, what strangers think of us, what my friends think of us. I examine everything he says in way too great a detail and take everything that he does to heart. I am fully conscious of the fact that I am looking into things way too much, worrying much to far ahead, I will continuously tell myself, Sarah, you are young, this is only a boyfriend, he is not necessarily going to be your husband…etc.. but my obsessive thoughts never cease. Along with this comes extreme guilt and since my last relationship (which I ended) I am very afraid to start anything new with anyone else. I feel I need to abstain from relationships until I have my personal O&C’s dealt with… relationships are a HUGE trigger for me and even thinking about the distress it had caused makes me upset as I type this.
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My compulsions are kind of scattered, and some of them can come and go. I will later write about my past compulsions but in this entry I will focus on my present compulsions: I must open cupboards when people leave a room. I need to look through every drawer, and every cupboard, especially in a kitchen. I hate this about myself and try to talk myself out of it but I get this overwhelming urge to go through everything. In peoples kitchens sometimes all I do is anticipate them to leave so that I can try all their food. Food is currently my biggest compulsion. I must try everything. I get overwhelming urges to find food and eat it in secret. If it is my food I am eating it to get rid of it, because it is bad. If it is someone else’s food that I am sneaking I am never sure why I must eat it but I do, even though I feel very bad about it. I need to use, consume, and smell everything. A bad smell is still a smell and I need to know what its like. This causes a lot of distress for me because when I do it I know its wrong but my urge is almost painful, and the fastest way to get rid of it is to give into it. I often feel like I am gong crazy, absolutely loony when I get the compulsion to put something in my mouth. I go through periods where I am “normal” but they only last a few days at most, usually a few hours.
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Recurring negative thoughts will come into my head, there have been single liners that have been with me for a long time and I don’t remember their origin, such as “I want to bash my head in the wall”, or “fucking hell fucking hell” (very original and clever, I know), often accompanied with me humming or tensing up. Once that thought begins I have to wait for “it” to finish before I can think of anything else. . I get kind of ticks, which is just my body tensing and untensing so I don’t scream or something. This happens when I am obsessing over something that I felt humiliated me in a social situation, or when I’ve done something wrong, when I am experiencing another compulsion, etc. I can control these somewhat though, usually I can wait until I am alone, or if I am walking (I try to stay conscious of who is around me incase I know someone).
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Another compulsion of mine is to look in the mirror.. it is incredibly difficult for me to refrain from this and I find it very embarrassing. It is a form of checking, kind of like people who have to check the lock over and over to make sure it is locked. I must check my body over and over to make sure I do indeed look the way I feel. I have never counted how many times I check myself but I trust that it is far more than what is considered normal.
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Another thing is when I go into any public bathroom, I have to look in the mirror atleast 3 times (I don’t count but I know I look more than once or twice to make sure there isn’t something between my teeth). Something even I find unusual and something I feel unable to control is that I start talking in whispers, sometimes extending or repeating a conversation I will have just had, sometimes making one up, or talking aloud from a daydream I am usually having (Really embarassing when I find out someone is in the stall).
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I’ve had body dysmorphic syndrome since I was 10 years old. It began when, my father looked at me one day and said “boy Sarah are you ever getting a gut!”… I’m sure he didn’t intend it to cause problems but my father loved to tease me because he seemed to enjoy making his children become upset. I’m still not sure why and don’t think I will ever know why he never saw that the things he said and did caused alot of distress in us. Anyway, aside from my father saying this about me, a few children at school called me fat as well. Still, I am not sure why because I was a very normal, healthy weight with a slender childs figure. Anyway this hugely affected me, and since that age I’ve had many body issues, even though I am normal build, a healthy weight, and considered attractive by some. I recognise this but I still obsess about my appearance. Now, I am currently experiencing some evolution with regards to my appearance obsession, though my main compulsion of checking the mirror has never changed since childhood. Between ages 10-16, my reason for checking was to make sure I looked good because I was very preoccupied with what people thought about me. Since finishing highschool, however, I have put less emphasis on what people think about my physical appearance, in the sense that it does not create distress in me if I don’t appear “the right way” when I see them. Because of this my makeup and clothes changing rituals have stopped (sometimes these would take up something like 5 hours a night and 3 in the morning). However, I still have issues with my appearance, and my mirror checking still is a big problem for me. Currently it is only my figure that I think about excessively and I am checking my stomach in particular so that it doesn’t grow out farther than my breasts which I feel are out of proportion. I feel that this is paranoia because my eating habits are not healthy.
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Resulting from what I know must be BDS is, and I am ashamed to admit it, full fledged Bulimia. I have been bulemic for almost 3 years now. I vomit less frequent now but still a big problem. Will often eat extra food in secret, sometimes even when I am very full. compulsive exersize accompanies. Actually, I should mention that my bulemia came into full swing after I began exersizing compulsively when I was 16. Between my exersize and binge-purge activities I would say it takes up sometimes more than 20 hours a week.(sometimes less).
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Organically, I think my seretonin levels are a little off beat. I feel that I am constantly battling with my moods. I’ve experienced depression again since about age ten. Infact when I was ten or eleven years old I had attempted suicide. My family still does not know because I lied when I woke up in the hospital from a gravel overdose (stomach medicine for carsickness). I remember my father asking me, embarassed, if I tried to kill myself. I laughed and said that I was only trying to calm myself for a nap… I did this because I felt there were shameful reprocusions for admitting to something like suicide. I remember that I was greatly affected by the death of a child in my school (he had been hit by a car). There was a ceremony at our school where we let balloons go for him, a model was made of his room “as it was” the day he died, and many people were very sad to see him go. When I got sad I would get very very sad and felt that its magnatude was not understood, and only would people understand if I were to take my life. I had these sorts of very strong suicidal thoughts up until I was fourteen years old. It was kind of a ritual of mine to rearrange my room and leave hidden messages for people, love notes, etc., topped with a suicide note.. but often I would begin to greive my own death and the thought of the pain of my mother or likewise would keep me from carrying through. This was followed by another ritual which was erasing my tracks. These rituals carried on until my elder sister attempted suicide at age 17. When I saw the greif it caused my parents it no longer became an option for me and in fact I would often preach to people and believed that it was a very selfish act which should not even be an option for people. I developed a kind of pull up your socks attitude, atleast in that regard.

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Social anxiety is usualy only present after social events, where my obsessive thoughts, depression and anxiousness overwhelm me. I used to get incredibly nervous before my first day of school though. I would have extreme anxiety, insomnia, would spend the whole night obsessing over my appearance and behavior. Self Medicating: dont know where this falls under but in the past ive had problems with over using overthe counter medicines and sleeping pills to self medicate. I have mildly to moderately o.d.ed on a couple occasions, with sleeping pills and I used to steal my mothers ativan when I was 12 or 13. Another social anxiety is this: I over consume, over speak, over exagerate, lie (exaggerations), and overthink most social situations. I often try to “make an early escape” from spending time with people in social situations. I also have a very big problem with being the last person somewhere, being in last place in any sort of game (second last is ok), or being left behind in any sense. My defense for this very alarming kind of anxiety ( I mean it causes great alarm within me) is that when I play anything competitively that involves technique or brain power, I do my best to do my worst and get overly bored to avoid anxiety, alarm and shame.
Another defense is that I make sure I am the first to leave whenever possible!

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This is a summary, I have …many… more theories on origins of my behaviors and problems as well but really I can confuse myself alot because things seem to intertwine so much… I havent ever told anyone about my problems except one girl I told about my bulimia but I got embarassed afterward and stopped talking to her. Peoples over concern and watchful eyes seem to be more damaging to me because I need to feel that I am in control (I know its silly because clearly I am not; these things control me), but I really cant deal with the way the outside world looks at me when they know how out of control I really am. Most people just get confused by me because one day I can be very social and other days I wont want to talk, and I often don’t have answers for people when they ask me what i am doing or where I am going, because it is all too intricate to give a “one breath” answer.
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2 Comments
  1. AnnMarie 15 years ago

    Hi Sarah,
    I think it is great that you have found us and are willing to share your thoughts. Is this your first time on this website? Not too long ago I was at a really low point in my life. My intrusive thoughts were taking over, like they have many times. I was (and still am sometimes) feeling guilty over the thoughts that run through my head. I must say that finding this website was a huge pick me up. It is so reassuring to hear from people who actually understand what I am going through. I also have a hard time staying in the here and now. I feel like I can never just live in the moment. I am always too busy trying to work through a thought that has passed through my brain. I am always focusing on what I have to do next rather than what I am doing at that moment. I have come a long way since I first realized I had OCD, but it still creeps up on me. I am always second guessing myself: I am always thinking “Maybe I shouldn’t have said that” “What if she took that the wrong way” “Am I a good person” “That person said she wasn’t mad but I am not convinced” “I have many friends but I still feel like a bad person” “Why can’t I just fucking enjoy myself and be truly happy” “If I was skinny I would be happy”…… I am always making excuses. I used to think it was just procrastination but it was much more than that. Today for example, I have the day off from work. My plans were to get up early and start my day but it is now 11:45 and I am still in my pajamas because I can’t start my day until I “feel” right. I need to not feel so distracted. You know that feeling when you are trying to remember something? It is on the tip of your tongue and you can still function physically, but you are really not “there” because your mind is too busy trying to remember. That is what I feel like every day. I can get through the day but if there is a thought lurking then I am not truly there. I know I am rambling on and I hope it helped a little to hear other examples. I am glad you shared your story with us. AnnMarie

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  2. sarah 15 years ago

    Hey,
    yes I am brand new to the site
    and actually I only realised I have OCD about two weeks ago
    it was very frustrating to not have a place to put my problems

    Thanks so much for your response.. it sounds wierd but it is so nice to know that I’m not alone with this!!!
    the “am i a good person” thought can be the source of alot of depression can’t it? How have you dealt with your ocd??
    what have you done to make positive improvements?

    I don’t know how to deal with my distraction at all I can’t even sit for long enough to not get out of my pajamas if you know what i mean. sometimes I have to force myself to try to relax for a day… I wake up with anxiety almost daily!! I think we have the same problem in the morning but with polar opposite reactions! Because I completely understand what you meant when you said “You know that feeling when you are trying to remember something? It is on the tip of your tongue and you can still function physically, but you are really not “there” because your mind is too busy trying to remember. That is what I feel like every day. I can get through the day but if there is a thought lurking then I am not truly there”

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