This story is part of our blog series called “Stories from the OCD Community.” Stories from the community are submitted and edited by Toni Palombi. If you are interested in sharing your story you can view submission details at www.iocdf.org/ocd-stories.
Inside my apartment, the door is locked but still I check: once, twice, three times. I shake the door handle just to make sure its locked. I walk up the stairs trying to assure myself that my apartment is secure. I walk over to the stove and check the knobs are all turned off: once, twice, and then a final time before walking over and doing the dishes.
Every time I leave my apartment I also check the lock: once, twice, three times. After I get into my car, I run out and check the lock again. I silently curse as I drive down the road wondering how I can live this way.
For as long as I can remember, I have dealt with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). As a child, I had to have things arranged a certain way, whether it be CDs, paintings, or books. As I grew older, everything had to be put in a certain place too and in just the right manner. In my apartment, I have specific paintings hanging on certain walls. Everything needs to be placed in their own group.
As I look to the Buddha statue on my night stand, I pray for inner peace. Living with OCD can often be a burden. I lay in bed each night tossing and turning, wondering if I have forgotten something. Did I check the lock? Is the stove turned off? Should I leave the microwave plugged in or is it a fire risk? Should I check to make sure I put the dishes in the correct spot? These thoughts plague me throughout the night until my nighttime anxiety medication kicks in.
OCD appears when I least expect it. At the store, I check my wallet twice to make sure I have my debit card. I call the bank three times a week to check how much money is in my account; this drives the bank crazy. I panic if I get lost and don’t know my way around a strange city.
Living with OCD has certainly changed my life. Even though I see a therapist once a month, the complexity of OCD is still hard to grasp at times. Sometimes I don’t even know that I am caught in a cycle of OCD obsessions and compulsions.
My OCD can be a burden for my loved ones who cannot understand what I am going through. They deem me a bit crazy and just shake their heads when I try to explain that it can be hard to manage sometimes. However, over time I have learned to accept it. I have OCD and there is no cure. All I can do is try to deal with it the best I can.
I have found ways to deal with OCD: I attend counseling, I engage in deep-breathing exercises, and I have learned to be patient with myself.
Destiny Eve Pifer is a small-town journalist who has been living with OCD her whole life. She also suffers from anxiety and bi-polar disorder. Though she deals with a great deal it has inspired her to educate others dealing with the same issues.