A Perfect Storm?

Can the beginning of one’s OCD often be traced back to one event?  Looking back, I do think this was true for Dan. When he was around twelve, he and his good friend were horsing around at our house.  Dan was twirling around while holding his clarinet.  The mouthpiece of the clarinet flew off, hit his friend Connor near the eye, and proceeded to leave a one inch vertical gash on Connor’s face. A freak accident with a good deal of blood. Dan came running to me, yelling hysterically, “Connor’s eye is bleeding.” Luckily it was Connor’s face, not his eye, and all was easily taken care of with a few stitches. Connor was as calm and forgiving as could be the whole time ( as was his mother, thankfully), but Dan was deeply affected by this event.

The thought that his actions had caused injury to his good friend was a lot to shoulder for Dan. Right after it happened, he spent hours sitting inside his closet, refusing to come out. Of course we all told him we knew it was an accident, and he even wrote an apology note to Connor. Everyone else forgot about the incident as quickly as it happened, but I suspect it festered in Dan’s mind.

Whenever I mentioned this story to Dan’s health care providers, they all said OCD was not triggered by one event. Now I know that this incident didn’t cause Dan’s OCD, and that it was bound to appear sooner or later. But maybe this event made it sooner. Perhaps it was like The Perfect Storm……..everything was in the right place at the right time to kickstart the OCD.

Not that it really matters much………….again, it’s just me trying to make some sense of a disorder that makes no sense. What do you think?

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7 Responses to A Perfect Storm?

  1. Kay Zeaman says:

    When I was eleven years old my father suddenly died in a car accident. Three days later during his funeral service my OCD counting rituals started. They lasted for many years. The day I had a traumatic event happen in a relationship when I was 21 I started my OCD washing rituals which lasted for many years. Because these were traumas, the therapy I found most help with my OCD was EMDR therapy which causes you to relive the trauma and move the memory from the amygdala to the hippocampus part of the brain where the memory can be released.

    • Thank you for sharing, Kay. I have heard of EMDR therapy but know little about it. Thank you for your explanation. I am so glad you found the right therapy for you, and hope you are doing well now.

  2. va says:

    My counselor last year told me that a stressor does trigger ocd in someone who is predisposed to it…my counselor thought the stressor was moving away to college, but since the ocd-like tendencies had been around for years prior to that but didn’t ramp up into anything really resembling clinical ocd until that spring, I am pretty sure if my ocd was triggered by a specific event that it was hearing my roommate throw up one morning, because it was that morning that I started washing and avoiding and my world began to shrink…So I guess what I am trying to say is that I think the ocd would naturally develop over time, but the triggering event just makes everything snowball and happen a lot faster…

    • Makes sense to me. It seems to me that some people experience a triggering event, and some don’t. Either way the OCD will make its appearance. Thanks for sharing, and I hope things are going well for you now.

  3. healthier me says:

    In truth, I’ve always blamed my parents’ horrible divorce when I was six for a lot of my emotional issues, such as perfectionism, my fear of emotionally-laden situations, and so on. I became an extreme overachiever in school in an attempt to prove my worth. I wore a lot of emotional masks. I believe I would have developed some level of these characteristics, but there’s no telling how I would have developed without so much dysfunction. I wasn’t aware of the depth of my problems, although I always felt somewhat emotionally disconnected and different from other kids at school, until I started reading the Bible at age 18. Obsessive mental loops and terrorizing questions quickly developed in my mind because I felt like the rug was pulled out from under me. I had grown up with the notion that saving belief in God was just a quick check box and that I could live my life however I wanted as long as I mentally assented to faith in Jesus, but that idea isn’t Bible at all. Because salvation comes by faith in Jesus Christ, I became obsessed with finding out if I was really “in faith” or not. Feelings of fear were my enemies, so I found myself in a losing battle with OCD thoughts. For me, life has been a journey from living isolated inside my head to loving myself and others from my heart and a true relationship with my Heavenly Father, the spirit of the Bible rather than the letter of the law. It’s a journey with good seasons and bad, but I’m thankful for the progress I’ve made.

    • healthier me says:

      Interestingly, my mom, whom I grew up with, used to have a years-long eating disorder. I don’t blame her for my OCD tendencies because she worked extremely hard and did her best as a single mom, but the nature vs. nurture question is very intriguing. I believe OCD is the result of both.

      • I agree that OCD is likely caused by a combination of many factors in most situations. It’s hard to know how our lives would have been different had we had different life experiences. The important thing, I believe, is to move forward as best we can and make the most of our lives at any given time. Sure sounds like you are on that path. Good luck as you move forward!

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