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Battling Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, an intrusive condition:a short story

Updated on April 3, 2013
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Joe as a small child

"Joe, don't you want to go out? our neighbors are in the playground," Joe's mother eyed the little boy quizzically. She was pleased that Joe was a well-dressed,obedient little boy who always completed his homework on time. He hardly made any careless mistakes when doing his home work; he was an intelligent child who got above average grades. She was worried, though, that the little boy had few friends his age.

Unlike most children, Joe made more of a fuss organizing and packing his bag than others. he took things in and out constantly, putting them in again until they were in an order that satisfied him. He was also unusually afraid of playgrounds, overly worried about being injured on the monkey bars.

"Joe, join us on a bike ride," his friends would say, but he would always reply with "Sorry, I've got lots of homework to do," as an excuse to avoid possible accidents. His irrational fears cost him a large part of his social life. His mum, meanwhile relished in the fact that she had a son who did not cause any trouble.


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Joe as a teenager

Joe was indeed a teenager every mother loved to call her own. He hardly ever used the phone or received calls from any friends.Diligent, he preferred to bury how nose in his books. A relief for his parents on the surface, Joe hid a little secret.

"Barbecue next week, Joe," his best and only friend Kevin would call over the phone. " Join us. You hardly ever do."

"Thanks, but I have that project to complete," Joe would decline ever so politely. there really was no such project; Joe did not want anyone knowing that he was deathly afraid of barbecues, or rather, the oil and dirt that would be left behind on his hands.

He began washing his hands more often than normal, but his mother, the envy of other mums of teens, was too busy enjoying the blissful relief to notice.


An odd habit-constantly taking the longer route

By all accounts, Joe was a well-loved fellow. He was helpful and always tutored friends who needed his academic advice. Consequently he had many friends who would ask him out, but they would more often than not be rejected quite unceremoniously. He had an odd habit which friends did find a little strange.

A few of them would be walking away from school as usual, and would come by a pedestrian crossing along the way. Joe would suddenly turn and take the longer route home. "Joe," Kevin would call,"Isn't this the faster route to your home?" Joe would simply ignore him and walk the other way.

Naturally, everyone thought it a little strange. They did not realize that he was deathly afraid of getting injured on roads.

An unusually neat desk

Joe, ever the organizational fanatic, kept an unusually neat desk, meticulously arranged. That in itself would be a feat to be proud of. His mother, who noticed him cleaning it every hour on the hour, did start to raise her eyebrows. "Your desk is already very clean, Joe. is there a need to keep wiping it?"

"Dust is so hard to get rid of, mum," Joe intoned coolly. His mother, none the wiser, was proud of her neat young son.


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The symptoms worsen

With excellent grades to complete his Law Degree, Joe joined a prestigious law firm upon graduation. He did fairly well in his career, getting noticed by senior partners in his firm and winning accolades for excellent work in litigation.

A devout Christian for the longest time, a new member of his cell group entered his life. A sweet, demure young lady everyone wanted to take home to meet mum, Lisa was a bright young accountant who was an excellent catch for any man. So she was for Joe; his affection grew into an obsession, and he began imagining that she wanted to marry him. She was his idea of the purest person alive.So fixated on the idea was he that he talked about it constantly with Kevin, who soon grew weary. "Hey, pal, if you really feel this way, you should tell her, not me." So bothered was he by Joe that he soon put down the phone when he called.

Joe began to have more intrusive thoughts about his bosses saying untoward things about him. he joined firm after firm, and started believing that his colleagues were stalking him or sabotaging his work. So obsessed was he with what he called their "criminal behavior" that he called to confront them ever so often, leaving rather cryptic messages on their cell phones.


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The nervous breakdown

The deluge of thoughts in Joe's head were so disturbing that he finally had to check himself into a hospital.

His loving mother, of course, was in a frenzy. She pulled at the doctor's lab coat. "What's my boy suffering from? How did he end up here?" She quizzed him anxiously.

"From the answers twosome questions we asked him, he could be suffering from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Does he wash his hands very often?"

His mother kept her head down."Yes. But....he's not cuckoo, is he?"

The doctor was a tad annoyed. "He has a condition that needs treatment, ma'am. I recommend that you expose him to road crossings and other things he may be afraid of.

Then build up his confidence, say in crossing roads. Don't let him walk the other way."

"Of course," Joe's mother nodded. "But doctor, could you not tell anyone else about this?"

The doctor faced her squarely. "Ma'am, if you don't seek help, he won't recover."


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Symptoms and coping with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Symptoms of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Excessive checking of things or surroundings

Repeated checking to see if loved ones or cherished objects are safe

Repeating certain words or actions

Irrational fear of harm or injury to oneself or others

Fixation with certain thoughts and ideas, especially the religious and the moral.

Fear of losing things.

Fixation with organization and order

Superstitiousness

Coping with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

Exposure therapy

A suggested form of treatment is to expose the patient to his fears and remind him or her not to overreact to them. Sufferers are asked to refrain from the compulsive behavior that he or she would normally perform, for instance, hand washing. Sufferers usually have their fears diminish gradually with constant exposure.

Cognitive Therapy

Sufferers are often taught appropriate ways of responding to their fears. They are introduced to the four steps of conquering OCD:

Relabel : The sufferer is taught to recognize that the intrusive thoughts are a result of

OCD. Then he trains himself to think otherwise. For instance, "My hands are

not dirty. I only think they are."

Reattribute : The sufferer must recognize that the thoughts are not caused by himself or

herself, but by the OCD.

Refocus: Get a sufferer to focus his or her attention on something else

Revalue: A sufferer should realize that the value that is attached to whatever he is

obsessed with is probably too much.

Exercise

This helps a person to refocus his attention and keep fit at the same time!

Anticipate OCD urges

Keep urges in check before they happen. If an obsession involves checking doors, it is good for a sufferer to try to do it once and ensure he gets it right the first time.

A healthy support system

The understanding and support of family and everyone's willingness to admit to and confront the condition and its related fears is a crucial,step towards recovery.

Conclusion

OCD is a condition to treat, very much like other health conditions. it is very manageable with the willingness of the sufferer to confront his fears. Family and friends must lend support by admitting to the condition and being open to therapy that will help if it is committed to.


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    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      OCD can be a debilitating disorder, but only if it is left to become that way. Here is a short story of a sufferer, as well as some ways to spot OCD. Some coping strategies are also suggested.

    • Lord De Cross profile image

      Joseph De Cross 4 years ago

      Excellent hub! Joe could've had a much better life, but OCD was there to dictate the most minimal changes. Reminds me of this sleeping with the enemy guy. I wonder how many marriages crumble because of the couple has been diagnsed way before that seven year itch? Thanks Michelle for putting this important subject on the spotlight. Do you know of famous people in history that had OCD? Just curious my friend. Thanks!

    • Jools99 profile image

      Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK

      Michelle, interesting hub. I have a friend with OCD. Everyone around him could spot the signs except him but he is now getting cognitive therapy and is finding his OCD easier to manage. He was an obsessive cleaner/washer and always double checked everything, then started treble checking things - I think it all started to get out of hand and that's when he sought help.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Lord, OCD complicates lives like Joe's, for sure. A good question. I actually had a friend, with OCD who didn't believe me when I said that I wasn't stalking her. She even imagined my grandma stalking her, and I could not communicate with her after that. It was sad, because I've known her for a very long time, though. Your question on famous people who have OCD.....Cameron Diaz, Jessica Alba and Donald Trump to name a few. (Perhaps that's why he has the combover!)

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Glad he was willing to seek help, though, Jools. It's when the condition's not admitted to which makes it even difficult to cope with. Stubbornness can really get in the way, like it did a friend of mine too. I hope that hubs like this help others to empathize with sufferers.

    • Janine Huldie profile image

      Janine Huldie 4 years ago from New York, New York

      Michelle, I took abnormal psychology in my undergraduate work and was fascinated with this disorder and many others. I remember learning about them and wanting to indeed know more. You did a great job here with your short story and explaining the condition. Have of course voted, shared and tweeted as always :)

    • healthylife2 profile image

      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Excellent story explaining how OCD has such a huge impact on every aspect of a person's life. I like that you also included ways it can be treated to offer hope for those that suffer from it. This information can help others have a better understanding of OCD. Voted and shared this one!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Janine, thanks for coming by, my friend! I hope that this helps others empathize with those suffering from OCD....it can be difficult to step into the shoes of a sufferer. Thanks for the tweet and share, my dear!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      It definitely has a tremendous impact, healthy life. Conditions that affect one's mental state often go ignored, because mo one is willing to really face it and any medication for these conditions has not been developed to full potential. Thanks for coming by!!

    • pharmacist2013 profile image

      pharmacist2013 4 years ago

      Really creative, you explained OCD in a simple, yet, detailed way through joe's story, great!

    • carter06 profile image

      Mary 4 years ago from Cronulla NSW

      This is a really thorough explanation of a very difficult condition for the sufferer Michelle, clear and succinct and most helpful...VUUI & shared...

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Pharmacist, I am so glad this was useful! Thanks for coming by!

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      I think many of us have certain things we are compulsive about though not to this extreme. I have gone back to check if I pulled the plug on my curling iron. ..Knowing that I did. You did a great job on this hub and explained everything very well. Voted up and Useful.

    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

      I love the way you presented the facts about OCD...great job Michelle!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      LOL! Good to check, Carol. Sometimes its just to be sure that we don't miss things. OCD can be confused with many things!! Glad you've found it useful! Thanks for coming by!

    • Mama Kim 8 profile image

      Sasha Kim 4 years ago

      I have OCD and now so does my son. He's only 3 and it's very obvious. We're doing the best we can to help him with exposure therapy. Like the mom in your story I love the fact that he's neat and well behaved but his irrational fears can be quite debilitating. As a sufferer and a mother of one I find this hub wonderful! ^_^ Thank you for writing such a valuable hub.. voted a bunch and shared!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks Bill!! Just thought this would be a change from the usual presentations. Thanks for coming by!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Whoa. Glad that you find this useful, Kim, and I hope that your little boy will find the Exposure Therapy helpful. He's so young, so I think time needs to be given for him to get used to the therapy. Time heals!! My blessings, Kim, and thanks for sharing!

    • Healthyannie profile image

      Healthyannie 4 years ago from Spain

      Excellent hub . . . I keep wondering why OCD is on the rise.

    • L.L. Woodard profile image

      L.L. Woodard 4 years ago from Oklahoma City

      As a person in constant recovery from OCD -- yes, recovery is never really complete, it must be ongoing, I found your insights valid. Demystifying mental health conditions goes a long way toward promoting understanding by the general public and "aha" moments for the afflicted.

      Great hub; voted up and shared.

    • ananceleste profile image

      Anan Celeste 4 years ago from California

      I can relate to the struggle...

    • Curiad profile image

      Mark G Weller 4 years ago from Lake Charles, LA.

      Very well written and informative Michelle, thank you.

    • profile image

      ignugent17 4 years ago

      A very good story Michelle. I watched Monk and sometimes he looks funny.

      Your story is sad and it is good example for awareness. OCD needs to be accepted by the society . Thanks for this information.

      Voted up and more.

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      I suffered from mild OCD as a child and occasionally I still find myself doing things like checking and rechecking the front door, the fridge, etc. Collin has it as well and they are working with him at school and we're working with it at home. Poor husband, it drives him nuts at times. LOL

      Great information, Midge! Voted up and more.

    • Amy Becherer profile image

      Amy Becherer 4 years ago from St. Louis, MO

      My 85 year old mother has always had OCD. She didn't believe it until a doctor recently informed her that he suspected it after talking with her. Now, since open heart bypass surgery a year ago, she is impacted with dementia, common after this surgery in the elderly. She constantly gets up at night to recheck her checkbook balance. It seems her sense of a lack of control from the dementia has her in an endless circle of check, rechecking and checking again. What used to be simply annoying is not a nightmare for her. The effects of the combination of dementia and OCD make any change to her routine futile. Even adding an antibiotic to treat the lyme disease she acquired from a tick bite, sent her into total confusion, where she took 2 days worth of all her medications in one day. Any change compounds her confusion at this point. She manages through daily medication sheets that I make and print for her. I do all the driving as she can no longer focus to drive. I'm glad that I am here to help her. Otherwise, she would have to be in assisted living, which would terrify her. Thank you for a great article on a common affliction, Michelle, that used to be considered simply a conscientious, diligent personality.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Blessing to your mum, and to the family, Amy. I have a grandaunt with dementia as well, and I can perfectly relate to the incidents with always checking financial statements and such. A hug for your patience....rest assured that with a little encouragement, things do get better. I am sure she is much assured having you by her side, and that alone will help. Thanks so much for the sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      TT, thanks for the share. OCD can be harnessed very positively, actually. that meticulousness serves well. I think as long as you check once, and all's well, you can be assured! Thanks for coming by!

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Monk makes it funny! but cautiousness does serve detectives very well in reality, though. thanks for coming by Meldz!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      hi Healty Annie, it could really be the stress of modern day living...compounds things somewhat. thanks for coming by!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      L.L.Woodard, I really do hope that this does justice to sufferers, because issues to do with mental health are so often misunderstood. the comment coming from you is really valued and appreciated. Thanks so much!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Ananceleste, thanks for coming by...blessings!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Mark.

    • rcrumple profile image

      Rich 4 years ago from Kentucky

      Michelle -

      Very informative hub! Have heard of OCD, of course, but never had to deal with it, that I know of. Great job both in story and descriptions!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Richard! No one should ever have to deal with it, it's a condition not many would like to admit to. Thanks for coming by!

    • Stephanie Henkel profile image

      Stephanie Henkel 4 years ago from USA

      I enjoyed your article on OCD. From the clear way you explained it, it's easy to see how it can escalate throughout a person's life until it becomes debilitating. In children, there must be a fine line between neatness and OCD behavior. Certainly neatness is usually rewarded, and a parent might have a hard time seeing that certain behaviors are not normal. Good article, voted up, useful and shared.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Stephanie, the fact that a child is too neat can be so hard to accept. Neatness is always a relief for parents who struggle to ask their kids to tidy this, and organize that. When one is neat it is so much a blessing, so what they don't realize is that it is a curse if they are obsessed about being neat. Thanks for coming by!

    • Nell Rose profile image

      Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

      I have a friend going through therapy for this at the moment, she says its not really helping just yet, but there are little things that she seems to be doing that are getting better, wonderful hub, and its great to see how it can start and what to do about it, nell

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hi Nell, I hope that your friend gets better, though I'm sure she already will because she's made a great start in doing so by receiving treatment! Thanks for coming by, and do share this with her...it may help!

    • profile image

      KDuBarry03 4 years ago

      Very enjoyable article on OCD, Michelle! I have dealt with OCD before via some friends and trust me, it does get annoying from time to time, but we all just bite our lips and still have the time of our lives (even when they repeat themselves over and over again). Having a strong support group is definitely one of the best things to have :)

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      I guess it's just the over-meticulousness that we have to get used to, because as with all other conditions, there are different levels of severity! thanks for coming by, and the sharing, Keith!

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      Valleypoet 4 years ago

      Thank you for raising awareness of this condition. I am close to someone with this mental illness, and your hub provides some valuable insights

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Valleypoet, I hope this helps!! My blessings!!

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      IntegrityYes 4 years ago

      I voted up for sure.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      hiya, yes! thanks so much!

    • Ann1Az2 profile image

      Ann1Az2 4 years ago from Orange, Texas

      Interesting and well thought out hub, midget. I suspect there are more people who have OCD than we realize. I knew someone who had it one time. His obsession was collecting stuff. He said it drove his wife crazy. He never threw anything away. I know some of us are guilty of that, but his case was really bad - it caused tremendous amounts of clutter which I'm sure is what drove his wife crazy. He would collect more than one thing of everything. He might have 6 posters of the same thing, for instance.

      I feel sorry for people that have this condition. Thanks for sharing.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Hoarding is a form of OCD too...my mum-in-law had a neighbor with that problem. She kept everything, even rotten vegetables!. But it is a compulsion that needs understanding and treatment. Thanks for dropping in!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I know a couple of people who are definite hoarders. I would never have associated that with having OCD. This is an eye opening hub and it is nice to know that there is therapy that works IF, of course, the person and those around them are willing to participate in the treatment. It must be very hard for the person afflicted with OCD as well as those who live with them. Up votes and sharing.

    • mary615 profile image

      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      I am reminded of my favorite TV star: Mr. Monk! I have known people with this affliction. They usually know they have OCD, but they just live with it instead of seeking treatment. I think as a child, I had some OCD, but I must have outgrew it. I remember having to put my shoes on in order, the same way every time, and other things I did.

      Good informative Hub. I voted this UP, and will share.

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      That's true, Peggy. The person has to be open to therapy, something a bit harder to negotiate for any problems involving the mind. Glad that it's useful! Thanks for sharing!

    • midget38 profile image
      Author

      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      I think they avoid treatment because of the stigma that's usually associated with issues associated with the mind. You're just a very organized person...I can tell when I read your hubs!! Thanks for sharing!!

    • Sunshine625 profile image

      Linda Bilyeu 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

      Well done Michelle. This article hits close to home. Someone close to me has OCD and I know what she goes through is very difficult at times. Medication and therapy do help.

    • midget38 profile image
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      Michelle Liew 4 years ago from Singapore

      Thanks, Linda...it's not easy and we should be more sympathetic to those who go through this. Thanks for sharing!

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