OCD in children, now there’s something you don’t hear every day.
I had never considered that children could have OCD, but after it came to my attention that my daughter may have obsessive compulsive disorder, I started to look back at my own childhood and remember things I would do. They didn’t really seem to affect my quality of life, but I now realize that I still have some of these same tendencies.
When I was little, I would try not to kiss any of my dolls because I knew that meant a painstaking process would begin. If I kissed one of my dolls, I had to kiss them all. I would sit in my closet with my porcelain doll collection (maybe 12-15 dolls at the time) and if I kissed one, I had to make sure to kiss every other doll because I had a feeling something bad would happen if I didn’t. I wasn’t really sure what the bad thing was. Maybe they would attack me in my sleep, maybe one would run away or break, but I had a nagging feeling that I just couldn’t shake. If for some crazy reason, I kissed a doll in the middle of the line-up first, this meant I would be kissing each doll multiple times because I wouldn’t know if they had all been kissed equally. It was frustrating.
I also had an issue with rugs with tassels. If a rug had tassels, they had to be straight at all times. Which could mean an hour of sitting and straitening a rug. It was impulsive, it wasn’t something I planned to do, it just happened. It was like I was sucked into something before I even realized what I was doing. I also had to have all of the cups in a cabinet facing the same way (all bottoms up or all bottoms down and to this day I prefer bottoms down because I don’t want to think that their may be germs on them (though I’m not really obsessed about germs).
I also struggled with religion and obsessive salvation prayers “just in case” my previous prayers hadn’t done the trick.
Dealing with my daughter has brought to light many of the issues I had as a child, and later as a teenager.
When I was a teen, I was diagnosed with depression, but I don’t believe I was clinically depressed. You see, OCD is more like a symptom than a disorder. It’s a symptom of something going on below the surface. For me, it was the ability to control my surroundings (by straightening things) and a way to manifest my fears onto something else (my dolls). I was an anxious child. Ridiculously so. I don’t know where the anxiety came from. Maybe I had seen too many movies at such a young age; depicting things I couldn’t understand, maybe some of it stemmed from the sexual abuse I had endured, losing my boyfriend to an ATV accident when I was only 16, and maybe some of it was just my personality.
I believe that I (like my daughter) was a very sensitive child. I saw things other children didn’t, I felt tension other children didn’t, and I experienced things other children didn’t. I believe all of these things lead to my obsessive fears that I was adopted, that I was pregnant (seriously a fear I had as a child), that my parents would get divorced. Can you even imagine having these thoughts run through your mind every single day? Searching for adoption papers, fear that my dad would cheat on my mom, nightmares. All of it, That was my childhood.
Is it any wonder that by the time I was a teenager, I felt depressed and alone? Who could possibly understand what I was going through? Who could I talk to that wouldn’t laugh at me, or think I was crazy?
Now, as an adult I deal with different issues. I have fears about my children dying, doing drugs, getting abused. I stay stressed out most of the time, and my shoulders always hurt. I am wound up. I struggle to accept grace. I am a perfectionist. I am controlling. I have irrational fears that can overload my system and cause me to feel depressed. As far as OCD for me, the only thing I really realize that I do now, is while I’m driving. If I don’t control myself, or have something to occupy my mind I will calculate for hours. How fast will I get there if I go X miles per hour. How long will it take to go X miles if I go X miles per hour half the time and X miles per hour the other half. How much gas do I use at 60 compared to 80 miles per hour. It makes my head spin and I feel myself getting frustrated and anxious as I do it, but I can stop doing it if I distract myself.
Thankfully, my daughters struggles with OCD have brought to light my own current issues with anxiety. They say realizing that you have a problem is the first step, and I honestly believe that. Now I can step back and look at the choices I make each day, and figure out why I make these choices. Am I living in fear? I don’t even like to let my kids play outside because I am scared they will be hit by a car or kidnapped. So this isn’t only affecting me. I have to make changes, and I have to be open to working on these things so I can live free from fear.
So, that’s what I plan to do. I will let you know how it goes and what steps I take to deal with these things.