The Guardian’s Narratively series posts stories from ordinary people on their experiences. In this one, the experience of contamination OCD is laid bare.
An excerpt from the article:
Most people still think having OCD means you’re a neat freak or like your shoes precisely lined up in the closet. Come to my apartment; I’ll show you that’s not true.
OCD is not a personality or preference. It’s a mental illness that can have devastating effects on how you live and interact with the world. You might spend weeks of panic wondering if you’re dying of a rare disease and go to at least seven different doctors, never satisfied with an answer. You might refuse to drive a car because you think you will steer it over a bridge. You might miss work because you can’t stop checking if the stove is off.
OCD is often called the “doubting disease” because deep down, the sufferer knows the thoughts and compulsions are irrational. However, despite this knowledge, there always remains a terrible “what if”.
The narrator gives examples of her OCD manifesting and morphing, from her childhood at 8 years old and not being able to open to the door, to her husband allowing a stranger to feed their dogs a treat. She is able to describe the fear, anxiety, and burden of her OCD obsessions, and the difficulty of doing exposure-response prevention treatment.
Read the full article here.