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.