A long-term OCD-sufferer happened to mention her driving habits to me. “Every time I go through an intersection,” she said offhandedly, “I always take a quick look back in the mirror.”
“Wait a minute,” I said. “That’s not normal. Only OCDers do that.”
“You’re kidding!” she said, mystified. “Everyone doesn’t do it? …Who knew?”
That’s the way it is with OCD. First, we are not sure we have it; then we are sure we do; and finally we realize how bad it is. It seems we always discover a new way the disorder has affected our lives. Sometimes, this is good. It promotes understanding and self-awareness. Other times, however, realizing the full extent of one’s OCD provokes strong feelings of sadness and regret. Another woman reflected on her younger years.
I just get sick thinking about this—how messed up I’ve been all my life, and all that OCD has cost me. I wouldn’t go out on dates. I wouldn’t even look at people sometimes. I spent all night worrying about poisons, or accidents, or bad things I was thinking. OCD has cost me too much. I can’t get it back. Oh, man. I’m such a loser. My life could have been so different…
Sometimes, it is an angry response that occurs. A man in his 30’s, after finally realizing what OCD was, and how badly OCD had affected him, felt like lashing out.
I can’t believe how OCD has ruined my life! I might be permanently disabled as far as sexuality is concerned. I have been nothing but an empty vessel controlled by fear. No room for desires. OCD has screwed up all my relationships. I hate what it has done to me!
“An empty vessel controlled by fear.” A striking metaphor. OCD sufferers face two different challenges that must be distinguished. The first is learning to recognize and treat their disorder. The second is coming to terms with it. The fact is that God has given us a significant biochemical disorder involving the fear-system of the brain, and we must learn to deal with it just as we would any other medical problem. We treat what we can, accept what is left, and thank God for the good things he has given us.