When I was a young girl, my friend, Carol, often phoned to ask if I wanted to go for a walk. “Sure,” I’d say, “as soon as I wash my feet.”
“Okay, meet me half way?” She’d ask.
That was always the plan, but she usually made it to my front door just about the time I was opening it to leave.
Why did I have to wash my feet? A little OCD? Perhaps. Though we went barefoot all summer, I felt compelled to start out with clean feet! Carol was used to it. Youngsters don’t question things like that. It is what it is.
Many years have passed since those days, but I’ve realized along the way that I have more than “a little” OCD! I suspect many of us do.
I can’t get into my bed at night without looking under the sheets to make sure there’s nothing in my bed that shouldn’t be. I’ve never found anything, but I keep looking just in case.
When I’m ready to leave the house, I go back to the kitchen at least three times to make sure I didn’t leave a stove burner on. I once phoned my daughter from Kentucky while Mr. H. and I were driving to Louisville, because I couldn’t remember if I’d turned off the burner I’d used to boil water for my tea. She drove out of her way to go to my house, check it out and call me back so I could relax.
Occasionally, my husband dusts the furniture for me, but he’s aware that I’ll go back and rearrange everything he moves to get the job done... even if it’s only a quarter of an inch.
And every night, I check my doors several times to make sure they’re locked before going to bed.
It seems to run in the family. My grandson washes his hands constantly and carries a bottle of hand sanitizer with him at all times to use when he can’t wash. He also cleans the table before he sits down to eat – even if it’s just been cleaned by someone else! When in public places, he goes to great lengths to keep from touching door handles or anything else that might have been touched by others. A real “germophobe,” that one!
One of my daughters is always cleaning her kitchen counters. She has a cleaner in a spray bottle and that’s the first thing she does every morning. Throughout the day, she sprays and wipes constantly, especially if there are several people in and out of her kitchen.
A son-in-law, whose job requires him to travel a lot, must be miserable staying overnight in hotels because he absolutely will not take off his clothes to sleep in a strange bed! He stays covered from head to toe – wearing a hoodie with long sleeves, pajama pants and socks. And, according to my daughter, he sleeps on his back so his face doesn’t touch the pillow.
How do normal people deal with those who have these disorders?
Unfortunately, most don’t see OCD as a serious disorder and, therefore, aren’t very supportive. Instead of helping the person learn to cope, they get angry or make fun of his ritualistic lifestyle.
Pointing out the humor and absurdity in some OCD symptoms might possibly help the sufferer become more detached from the disorder. But a situation is only humorous if the victim finds it funny, too.
If he doesn't, making fun of him could make matters worse.
The chief danger in life is that you may take too many precautions.
~ Alfred Adler