Thursday, February 12, 2009

Guest Blog: Signals of OCD by Ruth J. Hartman

Have you ever been caught in a loop? Not like a noose exactly, although this kind of loop can certainly feel like it at times. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder can stop you in your tracks. How? The OCD loop that gets caught in your brain latches on and doesn’t want to let go. The thought or thoughts that go around in the loop can be about anything.

You may have had the experience of hearing a song and getting it stuck in your head for the rest of the day. Multiply that by one thousand, and you’re starting to get a sense of an OCD-ravaged thought. You literally cannot get rid of it. People can become obsessed with any thought imaginable. And it’s different for everyone. For me, those thoughts are often germ-related. I’m a dental hygienist, so you can imagine all the stuff I get into. Other obsessions for people are: cleanliness, organization, or making sure things are lined up perfectly.

Compulsions may be hair-pulling, eye-brow pulling until there are bald spots, cleaning until a hole is worn in a garment or surface, or opening and closing doors and drawers until a handle is broken off. Others are checking and re-checking stoves, faucets, and coffee-makers: Did I leave it on? Maybe I should check again. Now I’m not sure if I checked it, or just thought I checked it.

With the exception of hair and eye-brow pulling, I, at times, experience all of these. My ultimate compulsion was, and continues to be, hand washing. Which, of course goes along with my germ phobia.

So if you’re caught in OCD-loop land, what do you do? Thankfully, there is help! Mine has been a combination of therapy and medication. When I was first diagnosed at age 27, I hung out with my therapist three times a week. Now, nearly 19 years later, I see him once a year. And that’s pretty much just to get my Prozac prescription refilled.

Speaking of Prozac, it’s the second drug we tried for my OCD. The first one, Anafranil, didn’t do it for me. It only succeeded in helping me gain ten pounds and generally be sleepy most of the day. Sometimes it takes trial and error. But to find the right one is worth it.

My doctor informed me that I would be on medication for the rest of my life. Because once you have OCD, which is in itself is a chemical imbalance, it never leaves. But I’m okay with daily meds. What’s taking a couple of pills, compared to the awful obsessions and compulsions? Unfortunately, I know several people who have the disorder but won’t acknowledge it, or who refuse to get treatment. Their lives could be so much more peaceful and healthy if they would seek help. But, of course, that’s not up to me.

If you, however, experience OCD-related issues, and it’s severe enough to keep you from functioning normally, there is help for you. It’s not too late!

To read my review, click here.

Happy Reading!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I admire you for speaking about your experience. I would like to hear a bit more about how your family has handle your disease. I know watching my son is so painful. I can't imagine how your family must have suffered feeling helpless around you. I send prayers to you and your family.
Jo Ann Hernandez