When I was only five-years-old I was the victim of a non-familial child abduction. Thankfully I was recovered safely, however I suffered from multiple psychological problems following the abduction. At the time, I didn’t exactly understand what had happened to me, but I also understood that I wasn’t a normal child and I had a very difficult time relating to my peers. In addition to post-traumatic stress disorder and night terrors, I started exhibiting signs of obsessive compulsive disorder more and more as I aged.
Early signs of OCD
Following my abduction, I became very preoccupied with “evenness.” It wasn’t about numbers at that point, but about feelings. If I had a bracelet on one wrist, I had to have one on the other wrist. If someone tapped me on my shoulder, I would ask them to tap me on my other shoulder too, because if I didn’t I started feeling very anxious and upset. Slowly, over time, these little “quirks” became more extreme and more significant.
During childhood I also developed sensory aversions that have followed me into my adult life. There are textures and sounds that make me feel sick just thinking about them. One texture and sound I can’t tolerate and have never been able to is the texture or sound of cotton balls or swabs. To me, the feeling of cotton makes me want to vomit and sends a shiver down my spine like nails on a chalkboard.
The disorder intensified as I aged
As a child and teen, I never really noticed my “quirks” or thought that there was anything strange or unusual about them. Then my psychologist suggested I take a personality inventory test and some of the questions related to obsessive behaviors and thoughts. Only when I was answering these questions at the age of 19 did I realize there was something wrong.
I couldn’t touch cotton. I got incredibly anxious and upset when diapers of the same color were touching when they were stacked on the diaper shelf. I had to feel “even” all the time. Getting a shot in one arm and not the other would bother and upset me for a week. It was at this point, I realized something was wrong and my psychologist agreed.
Coping with OCD
Coping with obsessive-compulsive disorder has not been easy, but I do my best. Although there are medications available that may help, I haven’t found one that helps me. Most of my symptoms (or “quirks”) aren’t severe enough to drastically affect my life, but I do my best to control it and avoid the anxiety and emotional distress I start to experience when things aren’t how they “should be.” It has taken a lot of self-control, effort and therapeutic intervention, but I am now able to control it and cope with it better than I could before. That’s all anyone with any disorder can do; take it one day at a time.