Of all the theories about humanity that I have encountered and researched, one in particular has continued to prove itself repeatedly: societies and civilizations were and currently are heavily influenced by items in their environment. For example, to explain elements that were beyond their comprehension and control, the Greeks created, worshiped, and paid tribute to gods that ruled from Mount Olympus. Fortunes and bountiful harvests were attributed to the appeasement of those who ruled on high, however if tragedy occurred, an attribution of disobedience was concluded in the form of not providing an adequate sacrifice to satisfy their masters. If was a blessing or gift was bestowed upon them, homage was given to whomever of the deities was closely related to it, such as Prometheus and his gift of fire to mortals. Even though today that we know that this was due to a product of science, it has become one of the most powerful tools of mankind which has heavily influenced and advanced societies on a global scale.
My First Encounter with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
If I had to reflect on my first act of OCD, it probably occurred over 20 years ago. As comical as it may sound, it began during a warm summer evening with an insect, a cockroach specifically, that was crawling in the carport of our house. I had never seen one before and, of course being a young boy, I was curious. I began to play with it and was intrigued by its spiked legs, thin wings, and long antennae. Unfortunately, before I could continue my personal analysis, my mother discovered what I was doing, scolded me, and told me to put it down immediately because she warned me they carry diseases. The horror of catching something at a young age frightened me, and in fact disturbed me to the point of washing my hands, not once, but during many times over a period of several hours. My thoughts were in a continuous loop that could not be broken which resulted in my hands changing to a bright-red color. Coincidentally, a few days later, while in a library restroom washing my hands attempting to remain disease free, for an unknown reason, I began to count the tiles on the floor. Another few days later, I saw a television commercial that showed scenes of people who were completing the same actions that I had began to do a week before. The commercial then concluded by advertising assistance for people who were suffering from this disability. I may not have caught a physical disease from that cockroach, but I did contract a mental one, as the commercial broadcasted as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
How I Have Coped with this “Disease”
Needless to say, with further education, I lessened the frequency of my rinsing, but continue to do it often before and after using the restroom (which of course I learned is part of maintaining good hygiene and is also required in my profession), after handling anything such as an animal, an item that was previously used by another person, after any physical contact with another person involving my hands, and before consuming anything that I may have to touch. If soap and water are not readily available, I attempt to have a bottle of hand sanitizer near me at all times. While I’m at a restaurant, I will visit the restroom, and after rinsing off my hands, I will grab several paper towels and moisten them with water from the sink, in effect creating a washcloth. I will then carry it back to the table and wipe off all of the items that have probably been handled by the previous patron, such as the salt and pepper shakers and other items utilized in the enjoyment of my meal. If I am in a situation in which none of the above are available, I will spit on my palms and rub them together, which probably has no affect in reducing the amount of disease-causing germs but does however reduce my personal anxiety. Because this is credited to my depression, I do take prescribed medication, which does help but does not eliminate the symptoms from which I suffer.