Why Don’t I have OCD?

I was an anxious child.  The night before the first day of elementary school each year, I would sleep on top of my already made bed instead of getting under the covers. That way I wouldn’t have to make my bed in the morning and there would be less chance of me being late for school (I never was).  What makes this behavior even more ridiculous is the fact that my house actually abutted the school.

If my parents went out for the evening, I would often feel intense anxiety, usually in the form of a stomach ache, until they returned home. It didn’t matter if my older brother was home, if we had a babysitter, or if I was home by myself.  Everyone thought I was afraid to be home without my parents, but what I was actually worried about was something bad happening to them (car crash, perhaps?) while they were out together, and I would then be left an orphan.

So the anxiety and even possibly obsessions were there. Thinking back, I remember often cleaning up our apartment while my parents were out.  But I don’t think it was a compulsion, as I never felt I had to clean. It was just something else for me to focus on, and I always got a big thank you from my mom when she and my dad returned home.

While I was “thinking back” I also remembered something I hadn’t thought of in probably forty years or so.  For a time, when I walked up the staircase to our apartment, I felt the need to touch a specific spot on the banister. I have no recollection as to how long this went on for. It could have been anywhere from a few times to several months. And I have one specific memory of  feeling uneasy because I wasn’t sure if I had touched the banister “correctly.” I remember toying with the idea of going back and touching it again, but I honestly don’t remember if I did. I am guessing I was about nine years old at the time.

Sure sounds like “beginning OCD,” don’t you think?  But that’s as far as it ever went. Why?  My son has OCD. Why don’t I? It’s certainly possible that I have a genetic predisposition to it.

At this point, I don’t think anyone has the answers to these questions.  Hopefully someday.  The more we can understand OCD, the better we’ll all be able to fight it, or even better, prevent it.

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6 Responses to Why Don’t I have OCD?

  1. I think we all have some anxiety to a certain degree. And the examples you gave sound so much like me when I was younger. Isn’t it incredible how your symptoms seemingly vanished while it sounds like your son struggles greatly with his? The way OCD manifests itself differs so much from one person to the next, it’s so interesting…

  2. I find it so fascinating when people can pinpoint one point in time where they felt like they “had to” do something (like your banister touching compulsion) mostly because it suggests that most of the time they don’t feel the pull to do those sort of things – that it’s the exception. I probably take it as reassurance to a certain extent, reassurance that I actually have OCD, because that’s something I fear. I worry that despite all the compulsions I do, despite the fact that I have been diagnosed with OCD by an OCD specialist, that perhaps I am somehow making up my disorder and that everyone feels the way I do but somehow manages to stop themselves from performing the compulsions. I can think of countless examples from throughout my life, both current and past, of things I felt like I “had to” do in a certain way for no logical reason. Anyways, I find it interesting.

    When I was a child (and when I was a teen), I too, would often sleep on top of my bed so I wouldn’t have to make it again in the morning. For me it was usually because either A) there was somewhere I had to be in the morning, I knew I wouldn’t feel right if my bed wasn’t made, and feared that, because I was anxious about whatever I was going to, I’d get “stuck” making my bed the “right” way; or B) it took me so long to make my bed in the first place that it just seemed wrong to sleep in it – like creating a piece of art only to destroy it.

    Then again, I purportedly have OCD and strongly suspected I have for my entire life.

    This all goes to say that I find the whole genetic predisposition for OCD curious, as well. I am the only one in my family that has been actually diagnosed with OCD, but sometimes I look at my parents’ behaviors and wonder whether or not they have small signs of the disorder, as well, sort of like the things you mentioned. It’s a funny thing, OCD, especially when it comes to who gets it and how.

    • ocdtalk says:

      I could have written your last paragraph myself (substituting Dan for myself).
      Also I find your comments concerning compulsions interesting. I guess that’s a real difference between those who have OCD and those who don’t. For me the compulsion was definitely out of the ordinary, but for those with OCD, it can be a way of life.
      Thanks for sharing!

  3. ocdtalk says:

    It is very interesting, you are right. While my OCD symptoms disappeared, I still deal with my fair share of anxiety, but nothing that really disrupts my life….Thanks for the comment!

  4. It took me a while, but I finally got around to reading your blog. I will be adding it to my list. I

    nteresting thoughts. For me, the thoughts and feelings were always present. My mother has severe OCD, multiple forms of it, and did her best to make sure I feared what she feared to keep us both safe. Sigh. I sure wish she hadn’t done that. I was no safer, neither was she. My obsessions and compulsions always change, but they typically involve health or disease, with the occasional “do this or else” feeling.

  5. ocdtalk says:

    Thanks for checking out my blog, and for your comment. Sure sounds like you had the deck stacked against you from an early age…I hope you are getting the right help now, and that there are better days ahead.

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