Even though OCD can be nauseatingly repetitive, it can also throw a few curve balls. The obsessions and compulsions are somewhat akin to mutating viruses...once the original virus/obsession becomes manageable it will morph into something completely new.
In my last post, I covered in depth the ritual I developed with checking locks and alarm clocks. Over the years, these obsessions and compulsions changed to include checking my parking brake, reopening and checking sealed letters, reopening and checking e-mails, checking to make sure that I hadn't run over someone with my car, going over past conversations to make sure that I hadn't said anything offensive, mentally repeating phrases, obsessing about events and decisions at work, the list goes on and on. I won't even go into intrusive thoughts at this time.
I was able to live with these things, even though I didn't know that my problem was OCD at the time. Eventually, however, my obsessions and compulsions became so pronounced and disturbing that they took over my life. I stopped eating and sleeping and ceased to function in a normal sense. At that point, I finally decided to seek help from a professional.
My first therapist visits were free through a corporate mental health program. This therapist felt that I had generalized anxiety and panic issues. He felt that in my case, medication would be helpful and pointed me toward a psychiatrist. My psychiatrist indicated that I had OCD and finally the pieces of my jigsaw life began to fall into place.
My medication (Paxil at the time) and cognitive therapy did wonders to help me learn to manage my issues. I will go into both medication and cognitive therapy in future posts.
I want to end with this post with two of the many important things that I learned about OCD from my psychiatrist.
1. OCD is like pressurized water that will seek out a crack (stress or anxiety) and leak through.
2. Traditional anxiety and depression medications (Paxil, Zoloft, Prozac) can and will be used to treat OCD, but often in higher dosages.
And now...the moral of the story: If you feel that you may have OCD, please seek professional help even if it is not causing unmanageable distress. Tame the cat when it is still a kitten and before it becomes a full-grown lion.