He used to stand by the front door and wait … and wait … and wait.
I don’t have actual OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). I have OCD Tendencies, which is a nicer way to say OCD mild. I used to have the type that kept me from leaving the house. The kind that caused my brain to be absolutely sure the house would be robbed, burned down and blown away if I forgot to make sure the door was locked, every window was closed, and all the furniture was in the right place. I developed OCD while I was on Paxil. Something about what it did to my brain made me believe that my rechecking and obsessing over things would and could control outcomes. A trick of the mind that got way out of control.
For years when D and I were getting ready to go anywhere, he would be ready at least 30 minutes before I as. It wasn’t that it took me longer to actually take a bath or to put on clothes. It was the routines that I had to do before I could leave the house. At first it annoyed him. Then he came to accept it, because he knew if I didn’t go through my motions and gyrations, we might be driving 30 miles back to the house so I could twist the doorknob on the front door three times in a row.
I’ve been med free since August 25, 2007 and I’ve come a long way towards overcoming my rechecking obsession. I’m not completely free of it, but it no longer takes me half an hour to get out the door AFTER I’m ready to go. Here are a few examples …
I can now put on lip balm and not have to tap the cap three times before putting the tube back in the drawer. This one came about when I accidentally dropped the cap on the floor one day and one of our dogs tried to grab it. People without OCD tendencies would have just picked the cap up, put it back on the tube and placed it in the drawer. My mind didn’t go that route. It automatically convinced me that I had to tap that cap every single time I used a tube of lip balm OR the cap WOULD fall off and one of the dogs WOULD grab it, choke on it and die. According to my mind, there was no other option.
I can now get out of my car without having to tap the “lights button” and repeat to myself “the lights are off” three times. I’ve never had a dead battery from my car lights being left on in my entire life. I don’t know where this one came from, but it stuck around for a long time. Even on days when I didn’t turn my lights on during my drive to work, I still had to tap the button and repeat the phrase or I wouldn’t get out of the car. If I forgot, then I would have to go back outside, cross the parking lot, unlock my care and do it. My mind just knew that I had left those lights on, that my battery would run out and I would be stranded at work or on the side of the road somehow.
I can now leave my house without turning the doorknob on the front porch and repeating to myself “the door is locked” three times. I’m down to once. 🙂
You will notice that my magic number seems to be three. That’s very common for people with OCD and OCD tendencies. Their (our) mind assigns a random number that seems to be the key to everything being alright with the world. For me two wouldn’t work and four sure wouldn’t. It had to be three.
I have one rechecking thing left that I’m struggling with. That damn bathroom outlet. It’s my kryptonite. If I don’t tap it or rub my hand across it three times and say “everything is unplugged”, I can’t leave the house. If we’re ready to go out the door and I haven’t done it, I go all the way back upstairs and check. I’ve come up with a crutch to deal with this one. Some people call things like this tools, but I know it’s a crutch, because it keeps me from being able to just walk away and not worry about it.
For a while now, I’ve been taking a picture of the outlet each day with my phone so I can look at it and know everything IS unplugged in my bathroom. At first it made me feel better, like it solved my problem, but I now realize it isn’t really solving anything. I have to retrain my mind and be able to just walk away. I’m working on it.
Are you a rechecker or have OCD tendencies? How have you overcome them?
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