My name is Robert. My battle with OCD started out like so many others. The earliest symptoms I can remember appeared around age 8. I had started to develop a prayer routine at night which, in my mind, I believed would keep my loved ones safe. I felt I had to say my family members’ names 8 times, touch the right side of the wall after, blink 8 times after that and the list goes on. With so many rules and restrictions, I could not complete the prayer “perfectly” no matter how hard I tried. I vividly remember it was late at night and my mom was still up cleaning. I ran down to her and burst into tears because I could not get my prayers right and was so worried that my loved ones would be hurt because of this. This was the early 80s and my parents had no knowledge of what OCD was. My mom and pediatrician brushed this off as a silly childhood quirk and was not at all alarmed that something more serious might be happening.
Obsessions and compulsions continued on and off throughout my childhood and changed themes but usually fixated on my health and a fear of dying from AIDS, cancer, leukemia, a brain tumor, etc. My OCD was more just background noise while I was young but became stronger when I was getting ready to leave for college.
It seems that anytime I have a major transition in my life, which involves a large change, my OCD comes on full force. I have had two major episodes: going to college and the other being a relocation I made out of state for my job.
When my wife and I relocated, I had completely forgotten about OCD and thought it was just some phase I went through when I was younger. A lot of stress happened to me that year; a breakup and makeup with my now spouse, my grandma passed away, I got engaged, relocated while trying to figure out a career. It all came to a head and my long, lost friend OCD came back with a vengeance.
Like all sufferers, this was a horrible time of anxiety for me that lasted a while. I gained a ton of weight, had a very hard time sleeping, could not concentrate on work, and was constantly seeking reassurance and barely functioning. My saving grace throughout all of this was getting into therapy, getting diagnosed and eventually put on medication. My wife and I wound up relocating to Florida where I continue treatment and am doing much, much better!
OCD is a disorder that I need to accept as part of my life for the long haul and continue to manage. For the periods of time when I am feeling well, and stress is low, I do just fine. When stress is at a high, I have my struggles but have learned to manage much better. Hopefully, my story will give others hope that one can live a completely happy and fulfilling life even with OCD. I am a living proof.