What If the What Ifs Come True?

I will be sharing some of my older posts this week and next. I hope everyone is having a great summer (or winter, depending where you live :)). This post first appeared on January 17, 2012.


by Master isolated images freedigitalphotos.net

by Master isolated images freedigitalphotos.net

In browsing OCD forums and blogs, I have come across some posts that, on the surface, seem to demonstrate that OCD makes sense. In one post, a woman talked of having to perform a certain set of rituals to keep her husband safe when he traveled for work. For whatever reason, she was recently not able to complete these rituals, and wouldn’t you know it, her husband was in a car accident where he sustained minor injuries. Another post involved a mother who was terrified of transferring germs to her young child, and lo and behold, the child contracted a nasty viral infection.

So if the first woman had performed her rituals the day of the accident, would the accident still have happened? If the second woman had washed her hands just one more time, would her child have gotten sick? The answer, of course, is we really don’t know.

Uncertainty, which we know fuels the fire of OCD, is simply a fact of life. In the course of our lifetimes, good things will happen and bad things will happen and we can never be sure, from one day to the next, what awaits us. Whether we suffer from OCD or not, there are bound to be challenges and surprises for all of us, and we need to be able to deal with them.

And that’s what I find so interesting about the above cases. These OCD sufferer’s “what ifs” came true, and they handled the situations just fine. When the “something bad” finally happened, it was manageable; much more manageable, in fact, than their OCD. The obsessions and compulsions and the havoc they wreak on lives are often much worse than the “what ifs” are when they actually do come true.

I am reminded of another post I read a while ago on The Beat OCD Blog. In her first-person blog, Ann comes to the realization that the only really bad thing that had actually ever happened to her was………..obsessive-compulsive disorder.

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13 Responses to What If the What Ifs Come True?

  1. KAREN VILLA says:

    I always was afraid something would happen to my mom, since I was little. my OCD had me do rituals to make sure she was safe, then when I turned 19 she got breast cancer, my OCD (which I hid so well) was worse, then after 2 years she was in remission, instead of being WHEW my OCD was like I had to do certain rituals so it wouldn’t come back, she was in remission for a year until it had spread to her lympnoids, again more rituals, she had cancer for another 2 years, then one day I did something out of the ordinary and she kept telling me to go to work, I didn’t want to go, but left 15 mins til my shift, i was at work for about 20 mins when i got the call to go back to the hospital, when i got there they told me my mom died about 15 mins after i left, the guilt i carried for 20 years of the “what if’s” haunted me everyday, it was my fault, it was me who was selfish to do something out of the ordinary when i should of just concentrated on the rituals, if i would had my mom would be still here.
    Now i think of how much rituals control my daily life, but yet things happen even when i do “things right” no matter how many rituals or thoughts you have you are not in control. (which is so scary not to be in control of things) but there are things we cant control, and we have to learn to accept that, what we can control (OCD) it has control over us and we need to learn to accept things and learn that rituals and thoughts do not have power over things, we need to accept ourselves and accept the fact that “what if’s” are in everything

    • Thank you so much for sharing your story, Karen, and I am so sorry for your loss, and also for the way you suffered for so long. You are so right, there are some things we just have no control over. I hope you are doing better now, and I wish you all the best.

  2. You make such a good point: that the situation we feared is ultimately a lot easier to handle than the OCD. So true! I wish I could have understood that years ago. Thank you for sharing this again.

  3. I wonder if perhaps that first-person narrative was from my blog:

    “It’s interesting,” I said, “to see how ‘the current issue’”—I made air quotes with my fingers—“hopped from one thing to another. It just latched onto whatever seemed important at the time.” Dr. Foster nodded. “My life is not really that difficult … I just have a difficult disorder.”
    “‘The current issue,’ then, is not your problem …” prompted Dr. Foster.
    “OCD is my problem.”

  4. myocdvoice says:

    “But what if they come true” is something I think about a lot so thank you so much for posting this! It is a great reminder that even if the bad thing happens we should believe in ourselves that we will be able to handle them.
    I also like the idea that uncertainty exists everywhere, even for people without OCD. This makes it easier to just accept uncertainty as a part of life and something to spend less time ruminating about. It isn’t going away! 🙂
    Thanks again for writing such a wonderful and helpful blog!

    • You’re welcome, and thank you for your kind words! I think that so much of what those with OCD experience rings true to those of us without OCD (I used to be the queen of “what ifs” :)). It’s just the intensity of the thoughts and actions that sets us apart.

  5. 71 & Sunny says:

    Oh so much truth to this post. And when the “what ifs” do happen, and they occasionally do, they are almost never as bad as we imagine. Even when one of the almost worst things that could ever have happened (my husband almost dying), somehow, someway, we got through it. It was awful, and horrible and every terrible, yucky, scary thing that you could imagine, but we still survived. How bout that?

  6. Ann says:

    Yep, that was me, back in 2011.:
    “Which reminded me of the biggest irony of all: OCD has caused me to spend hours, weeks, MONTHS of time worrying that something terrible might happen. But so far, really the ONLY truly terrible thing that’s ever happened in my life is that I have OCD.”

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