Okay, I'm game. In keeping with the recent trend of mental disorder threads... Do any of you out there have obsessive compulsive disorder (affectionately known as OCD) and/or its relative OCPD (no, not the Orange County Police Department, it means Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder)? A rough list of criteria for knowing if you have OCD: -You experience unwanted and intrusive thoughts without being able to control them (the obsessions) and these cause anxiety (you are terrified that some catastrophe will occur if you don't address them) -You attempt to negate such thoughts with a ritual act (i.e. hand washing, checking something repeatedly, thinking a good thought against a bad one) and this is disruptive of your daily life (the compulsions) -If you don't do the compulsion "just right" you have to do it over again -You realize at some point that the thoughts might not be real (i.e. your sense of reality is not distorted, you know right from wrong) -You don't want to do the compulsions but, despite attempts to resist the cycle of obsessions-compulsions, you get drawn back in by the thought that you could be wrong -Your symptoms may be conspicuous so you hide them from others and develop rationalizations to explain them away OCPD is similar but differs in that... -In general, you are extremely concerned with propriety (i.e. things being in their proper place, doing things in exactly the "right way") -You may be highly critical of yourself or others for not doing things right -You don't feel that the compulsive behaviors are harmful or wrong; you may actually consider them beneficial -Your concern with maintaining order disrupts other parts of your life ____________________________________________________________ So far as I know I only have OCD. You might say that it's been my nemesis. I can trace almost all of the problems in my life to OCD as I've had symptoms since I was four years old (in 1989) and I wasn't diagnosed until I was 23 (February 2008). What's most vexing is the way it changes, adapting like a cold virus so that once you've gotten over a certain set of obsessions and compulsions, a new set will appear soon after and the novelty of the new set makes it hard to resist. You always ask yourself, "What if I'm wrong this time and something does happen?". Mind you, this happens no matter how ludicrous the content of the obsession. For example, when I was twelve I was afraid that rats and other small animals might get caught underneath where I was sitting or lying down. For three months I lost sleep pulling up my mattress by the corner to check if there was anything underneath me. And more than that, I had to scan the crease between the mattress and the bed frame as I lay it back down, just in case anything happened to scurry under there when I wasn't looking. I had to do this "just right", of course, or do it again and again. When my parents saw me lifting up couch cushions and looking under where I sat I claimed that I had lost something. That excuse kind of wore out after a while. Fortunately, this set faded over time, but it wasn't long before a new set appeared. But, probably the worst permutation of it has been my obsessions over socializing which started in my sophomore year of highschool and have been with me ever since. I don't have social anxiety but my OCD turns interacting with people into a sort of fatalistic exercise. No matter how well things go I always come away worrying that I've committed some terrible social blunder; that the other person was just being nice and I've really insulted them terribly. My mind can turn even the smallest thing into a horrible mistake that hounds me all day. Because of this I denied myself many of the normal socializing experiences that people have in their adolescence--getting a job, making more friends, dating--because I was too afraid of failure or rejection. I'm not making excuses for myself. It is possible to overcome the anxiety and live a full life. It is very true that the only thing I have to fear is "fear itself". In fact, I have never used it as an excuse to get out of something, even when it probably did affect my work. But it is very hard sometimes, and I have fallen into a soul crushing depression more than once as I struggled to keep myself afloat and obey the capricious little voice inside me that wants me to do things "just right" or else. Things have been getting better though. Since I was diagnosed and put on an SSRI (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor) called Lexapro my quality of life improved. Even before that, I forced myself to take a job at my college bookstore, I transferred to the University of California Santa Cruz (go SLUGS!), and I've been living on my own. I'm still bereft in the dating department, but at least it's not for lack of trying s. However, the therapy I've received (just talking about it helps) and the SSRI has made my life go from "moping along, barely functional" to "pretty enjoyable". My depression has all but subsided and I'm taking risks that I never would have when I was caught in the full swing of my disorder. Developing a sort of gallows humor about the obsessions, no matter the content, helps because it stymies the usual way that the obsessions get under your skin. If you think and act like it doesn't bother you, the anxiety will wash over you like water. So, are any of you out there worried about germs everywhere? Do you wash your hands raw for fear of being contaminated or contaminating someone else? Or do you dry your hands like bone afraid that by leaving a droplet of water on the light switch you will electrocute someone else (this is one of mine BTW)? Have you ever worried that you ran someone over (despite somehow missing it when it "happened") and driven back to check for a body? Have you ever been afraid of hurting yourself or others but been at a loss as to why you would do such a thing? Do you constantly worry that your Autobot to Decepticon ratio is unbalanced (another one of mine)? Do you hide these things from others for fear that you are going crazy? If so, you aren't crazy. You know the difference between right and wrong. In fact, the problem might be that you know it too well and that you constantly worry that you aren't doing right. You aren't alone. You aren't beyond help. You alone have the power to lift yourself by your own bootstraps and get out of the rut. Start thinking positive. Have compassion for yourself (because the obsessions won't). Talk to someone you trust. Post about it here if you feel comfortable. Find a therapist. It's never too soon to start getting better.