Looking back, I think my OCD developed from an early age. I can remember as early as second grade, I would check my backpack multiple times to make sure my homework was in there. During this time, I also remember having anxieties related to contamination. I hated eating pizza or chicken wings with my hands because getting them dirty would make me feel dizzy from anxiety. My mother was such a great support system at this time. As a kid, I didn’t know this was OCD but I’m sure my mom, being a therapist had some sort of idea. She helped me accept that getting my hands dirty would not hurt me and today I do not have contamination OCD. I am forever grateful for her guidance during this time.
Fast forward to middle school, I still remember checking my math homework multiple times to make sure I answered every problem that was assigned. I would go up and down the list mentally checking that each problem was completed. OCD also attacked my interests at this time. I would be in a Harry Potter phase and convince myself I actually didn’t like it. I remember watching the movies and getting terrible anxiety from watching them because my brain told me I actually didn’t like them.
High school was an interesting time for my OCD. It was dormant and quietly hibernated. I don’t really know why OCD didn’t emerge during this time. If it did, I can’t remember how. I do remember acknowledging that I no longer felt the need to check over my homework multiple times. I guess I thought it was a phase of development that I simply grew out of.
College was when I started to get help for anxiety. I would go to class in college and feel dizzy and restless; almost feeling like jumping out of my skin. I suffered from excessive underarm sweating which I was deeply embarrassed by and hid the best I could. I don’t think many people know I struggled with this because I would layer clothes to make sure it wasn’t noticeable. I started medication and for four years my anxieties varied in severity but again, the OCD was quiet and plotting.
After college, I went back to school to become a nurse. I remember being so excited about starting my career and looking back at all the hard work I did to get to where I was. It wasn’t until I started working as a nurse that my OCD decided to take the stage. I would excessively check to make sure I didn’t make a medication error and make sure I completed all my documentation. OCD thrived on my fear of losing everything I worked so hard for.
Now I am in nurse practitioner school and OCD floods my brain when I try to complete assignments. I have to reread papers multiple times to reassure myself that I didn’t accidentally type out any information that would break patient confidentiality/HIPPA.
Over time, OCD grew and consumed my life on a daily basis. I would drive my car and see someone walking by and think, did I hit them? If I ran over a bump on the road I would think did I just kill someone? Those thoughts are horrifying and I replay those events in my head to convince myself that it didn’t happen. I still struggle to work through quadruple checking my work before leaving my job. This also spirals anxiety because I fear that my workplace will think I have poor time management skills. I will sometimes see sharp objects and think “I could slash someone’s throat with this.” The thought of that is completely terrifying and horrid. I feel nauseated even typing that out. It breaks my heart to think my brain throws these intrusive thoughts at me because I’m a nurse and I take care of people. I wonder if I’m truly a bad person or an undiagnosed sociopath.
I’ve always been a person that has had high expectations for myself and the people around me. Since high school, people have viewed me as being a top student, a good runner, and a fashion-forward person. I pride myself on these qualities but it has eventually exacerbated what I now know is perfectionism OCD. I don’t feel happy if I’m not the smartest, best dressed, or in good shape. The perfectionism led to some body dysmorphia. Last year, my PCP was concerned because I lost about 10-12 pounds since the last visit. At the time, I didn’t see anything wrong because I felt happy with the way that I looked. This blinded me from the fact that I wasn’t eating enough after workouts and feeling lethargic and sleepy. Fast forward to this year, and I gained back 10 pounds. Although I still struggle to accept that this is a healthy weight, I do recognize that I’m not as tired and have more energy throughout the day.
I decided to join NOCD to work through these fears and focus on enjoying my life again to the fullest. I’m sick and tired of waking up every day, getting into my car, and getting intrusive thoughts when driving. I’m tired of having to count pages and pages of documentation over and over again to make sure I filled out everything I needed to at work.