About a year ago, we moved to an island in the Puget Sound for a few reasons, but somewhat because I thought running away from certain things (traffic, stress, etc.) would help my anxiety. The summer was beautiful, but the fall destroyed me. I had a miscarriage, and perhaps triggered by that traumatic event, I started having intense contamination OCD.
I still struggle with it, but the weird thing is that I didn’t have that “branch” of OCD in the past. I mean, I even used cloth diapers for my son and sprayed bodily waste into the toilet and washed our clothes in the same washing machine as dirty diapers without worrying about “cross contamination” or anything like that. But I had other manifestations of OCD. I just didn’t realize that I was dealing with obsessive compulsive disorder. I thought it was just anxiety, mostly. I will write more about my early issues at a different time, but let’s just say it wasn’t awesome. It’s never awesome to not know what is wrong with you.
But while I hate contamination OCD, I am glad that it led me to a diagnosis. It seems like excessive hand washing is one of those symptoms that pretty much everyone recognizes as OCD. But still, it was SO HARD to take the first step to get help. My husband had to make the call to the doctor. Miraculously, the doctor had a group meeting that night and a random appointment slot open the next day.
Somehow I forced myself to go to group and blubbered my way through my story because, finally, I knew. I had listened to the others tell their stories and started to understand that my past struggles weren’t just solitary anxieties but arms and fingers and tentacles of this monster that is OCD. Knowing that didn’t immediately solve my problems, but realizing that I wasn’t alone and wasn’t totally in the dark anymore did something. It gave me the courage to keep going.
So my advice for the day is to get information. Read books, look up websites, research doctors, and check out any local OCD support groups. You might have an anxiety attack just thinking about telling your story, but do it anyway. I can’t say that it will get easier, but at least you will be doing something. And something is better than nothing.