My OCD struck at age seven. Strep-throat-gone-to-hell and all of the sudden curse words were running through my head as if I were some foul-mouthed sailor, when the truth of the matter was that I was a shy (Yes, really! Hard to believe now!) girl from a conservative home, who would have never DARED to utter those phrases outloud.
I began to worry that I would lie if I gave my opinion, so for a while, my answer to everything was “I don’t know.” Favorite color?
I don’t know.
Did I like my teacher?
I don’t know.
Should we do this or that?
I don’t know.
I have this image in my head of running to find my mom under the clothesline, smacking my fist against my forehead, and confessing. My poor mom.
I wish we’d known then. It would be another fifteen years before my OCD would even be named, but I’ve wondered what life would have been like had we caught it back in the summer of 1989. Drat you, internet, for coming along too late!
Every once in a while I google things like “my daughter is attacked by bad thoughts” or “my daughter has bad thoughts” or “my daughter keeps confessing” to see how quickly the trail leads to OCD.
My heart breaks for the obsessive-compulsive children out there, wild minds racing, hearts terrified, robbed of childhood.
Parents can look for the following possible signs of OCD:
- repetitive confession
- constantly seeking reassurance
- raw, chapped hands from constant washing
- unusually high rate of soap or paper towel usage
- high, unexplained utility bills
- a sudden drop in test grades
- unproductive hours spent doing homework
- holes erased through test papers and homework
- requests for family members to repeat strange phrases or keep answering the same question
- a persistent fear of illness
- a dramatic increase in laundry
- an exceptionally long amount of time spent getting ready for bed
- a continual fear that something terrible will happen to someone
- constant checks of the health of family members
- reluctance to leave the house at the same time as other family members
I waited fifteen years to be diagnosed. Just take your kiddo to the psychiatrist.*
*I’m not mad at you, Momma. 🙂 How could we have known? You’re my favorite.
That’s amazing, Jackie. Living with it for so long and not knowing what was wrong. I had no idea when I met you at summer camp all those years ago, and even when I crashed at your house when I was going through trouble as a young adult. I had no idea. I’m glad you finally got a name for your disorder and help is available now. Just think of how many kids centuries ago would have been seen to be possessed by a demon or something…
Oh Jackie, my heart breaks for that little girl back in 1989. You have done a wonderful thing by writing this post and putting more information out there about this.
Thanks Sunny! Yes, I have such terrible memories from growing up … and the sad thing is that those years should have been incredible. I had loving, wonderful parents, lived on a farm in the country … idyllic, beautiful, serene. And yet, life was littered.
I wish I had known also….. just thought you were wierd!!! (just kidding)
I knew you back then Jackie and NEVER thought there was anything “wrong” with you. You were just a shy kid. No big deal, right? Thank you for putting your heart our there everytime you post on your blog. As a parent I am thankful for people like you who help me everyday as a mom. What good is all this info if we don’t share and pass on? I can’t imagine how hard it must be though since this is so personal. So again, I thank you and think you are just amazing!!!
I’ve been told by an unofficial counselor that I had ocd in a certain area. Now I wonder if the odd things I did as a child could be traced to ocd. Or maybe i was just an overly cautious weird kid. Like when my mom led me in a prayer of salvation (which I don’t believe I understood at the time) I would be anxious about whether God to knew I wanted to go to heaven so would do stupid things like jump up and say the words “up love” (so God would “know” I didn’t want to go “down” to hell). It was like a compulsion I guess. Weird stuff like that. I used to be afraid of eating at other people’s houses (even my grandma’s house!) Because what if they later decided they wanted the food back that they offered me, since it wasn’t really mine. I would not eat all day if i was there, and then feel sick and throw up from not eating (hypoglycemia is a totally different story haha). Gosh I was an odd child.
Oh yes! I can relate to SO MUCH of this!!!