I’m 62-years-old. When I was a “toddler” society didn’t have as much information about mental illnesses as they do today. Even today it is difficult to identify mental or emotional problems in very young children, or adults for that matter. My parents and my doctor certainly didn’t know I was suffering from obsessive-compulsive disorder
When I was three, my parents didn’t know what to do with me. I had taught myself to read (to a point) and that freaked them out. Keep in mind we’re talking about 1952. However, another thing I did was to scream and cry if I colored outside of the lines in my coloring book. In fact the picture would have to be destroyed and I would have to start on a new page. The best that could be done was to consider me “weird” or “high strung.” Today we know I had a number of mental conditions although knowing that then would have done no good.
When a person has obsessive-compulsive disorder they have a fear that is unable to be solved because no matter how many times they perform the action that should solve it, they feel no better.
I could not tell you what my fear was at three-years-old but I must have had one.
My best friend has it. Here is an example of the way it impacts his life: He recently drove back to his office twice because he was afraid he forgot to lock his desk. Driving back was bad enough. However it may shock you to know that each time the drive back was 40 miles.
I can remember a clerk in an office I worked in who was so afraid of germs that she washed her hands until they literally became raw and once her hands would heal she would repeat the process.
You can see the connection: People are afraid. My friend was afraid of having something stolen and the clerk was afraid of germs.
However there are other aspects and actions of obsessive-compulsive disorder.
When I returned from Vietnam I got married, got a job and started going to college. That’s reasonably “normal,” right? The only problem was if I didn’t maintain an “A” in a class I would drop it. I started college in 1974 and received a Degree in 1983. I wouldn’t have completed it then except the college would no longer let me drop classes. As an aside I did give the commencement address in 1985.
Another “condition” I exhibit today is sloppiness. That seems odd doesn’t it? A person who is extremely “neat out of fear” doesn’t care. However what happens is I can’t keep up with my own standards so I essentially “give up.”
Oh, I almost forgot to tell you. I “hoard” things. Of course I have the perfect excuse now because I write and I need reference materials. However I don’t need near the number of materials I have.
There is no way to diagnose obsessive compulsive-disorder. Treatment consists of “cognitive therapy” and antidepressants.
In the event neither treatment works a person may consider electroshock therapy. Unfortunately most people think of that treatment in the context of “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” where it is used to ruin a man’s brain. However today it is a very effective treatment used when counseling and medication do not work.
I am familiar with it because I also have manic depression (also called bipolar disorder) and am considering it.
I am hoping that the electroshock therapy helps because I am exhausted battling these mental conditions. You see, if a person has a physical condition people see and understand, however, with mental conditions it is more difficult for people to see your burden and make allowances for behaviors.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder affects 3.3 million people. It is akin to many other disorders and there is no real “cure.”
It has affected my life for 60 years and it is still a problem.