By Bobbie Saunders
OCD is unpredictable. It will change, evolve, sometimes become more complex. Something from thirty-five years ago can resurface. For example, fear of broken glass, not just pieces of glass but minuscule particles that can't be seen.
My OCD began at age thirteen after reading a particular sentence in a book. Something about it bothered me, and I began to obsess. About this time, my mother and I went with our neighbor to a nursing home to visit her elderly mother. Shortly after this the lady died. I remembered that I had filled a glass of water for her. My mind decided this action could be the cause of death. OCD thinking, no logic!
My mother was a nurse but didn't understand my symptoms or my father's. I was able to talk to my father as he had OCD (Runs in the family.)
His was checking the house at least once before church, making sure everything was turned off. Don't know what else was involved other than my father was a perfectionist. To this day my relatives do not want to talk about OCD and anxiety. My mother did try to learn about OCD after my father died.
At the beginning of my freshman year in an out-of-state college my OCD flared up. I was honest with my professors about my struggle, and they were supportive. I had a not so nice roommate who dropped out of school. Before doing so she observed some of my OCD behavior and reported this. I had anxiety about touching the faucet handles of the sink in our room so used paper towels instead. I ended up in the Dean's office and still remember this woman's coldness towards me. At this time I landed briefly in the infirmary with ulcerative colitis.
After college and a few temporary jobs, I began working for the government. I liked the structure of the Army, having jobs in counseling and housing management. My best job was in accounting (Department of Defense). My love of numbers paid off.
Back in the day, anxiety was not discussed. Doctors didn't even have a name for OCD. I was about forty years old before I talked to anyone with OCD other than my own father. And this was on the phone.
Then along came OCD Conference! A treasure trove of knowledge, awareness, empathy, friendship, and hope.