Obsessive Compulsive Disorder Coupled with Bipolar Disorder

ocd manChecking the locks.

That is the new thing. Lock the door. Walk away. Walk back. Wiggle the handle. Move on.

Not only am I beautifully bipolar, but I live with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) as well. I can’t describe to you how good it feels to wash my hands. Sometimes I start and I just can’t stop. It feels so good. It makes the anxiety go away. But then I can’t stop and my anxiety builds back up.

An endless cycle.

I have this thing about multiples of five. I cannot get out of bed unless the number on my cell phone reflects a multiple of five – like 8:35 or 10:30.

I curl my eyelashes for exactly 12 seconds each eye. I don’t know why 12 became the magic number, but shit gets real if I vary.

The items in the medicine cabinet and shower must be arranged just so.

I must put my right sock on first, then the left. Then the left shoe, followed by the right.

I must only put my earrings in left, then right.

So what? You’re thinking. What happens if she does it a different way? Well, if I do it the “wrong” way, something terrible will happen to me or a loved one. I know this as surely as I know night will come after day.

OCD is an anxiety disorder. The more anxious I feel, the more likely I am to act out compulsions. I used to have this thing with counting. 1 -2 -3 -4 -5 -6 -7 -8 -9 -10. Over and over and over again until my anxiety lessened. I do it rarely today. Meds help. Therapy helps. Coping skills help.

My other more recent obsession is that I will run someone over in my car. Motorcycles scare me. People walking on the side of the highway scare me. Kids riding their bikes on the sidewalk scare me. It is illogical because I have never run anyone over, nor have I come close, nor have I been in any kind of incident such as that. But I believe it. With every part of my being I know I will kill someone.

So what do I do? I talk to myself. When I see a woman on the side of the road I say out loud, “You are not going to hit her. You have never hit anyone. See, you are passing her now and everything is okay. There, look, she is in the rear view mirror. It would be impossible to hit her now.” It sounds silly and maybe “crazy,” but my therapist has me do it and it helps.

OCD is so much more than being a neat freak or an alphabetizer of your library or eating dinner at 6 every night. It is overwhelming. I am thankful that for the most part I can keep my shit together, thanks to large doses of anxiety and antidepressant meds.

I know how dirty menus are. I can count the germs on a door handle. Please, please don’t ask me to shake your hand.

So, please be kind, like all those Facebook posts say, “You have no idea what someone else is dealing with.” We just try to appear “normal” and fit in. Not too many stares. Not too many cares.


Image courtesy of imagerymajestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net



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    Last reviewed: 17 Oct 2014