I dont want to diminish the anxiety of living with OCD. But lets admit it: OCD can also be very funny. Looking at the light side of life can help any problem or disease. And laughing is good for you. When OCD is really bad, there doesn't seem to be much humor in it. But if you can step back and look at it objectively, I think there is much humor. I think that is one of the secrets to getting well stepping back and seeing OCD as separate from yourself.
Random Thoughts on Germs
Yes, public phones, door knobs, floors, chairs and just about anything else are loaded with germs. But are they really harmful? Lets take a closer look at the situation. Exposure to these common germs can enhance your immune system. The more exposure, the more antibodies your body is making. Good practice for when a really dangerous germ attacks? Probably.
We don't want our bodies to forget how to make antibodies, do we? If we try to kill off all these germs, we will only be allowing the resistant germs to multiply. More practice for our bodies? However you look at it, these germs are our friends. We should embrace them. Invite them to lunch!
Maybe this little bit of humor would help fight OCD with exposure and ritual prevention. Imagine going to the mall. Touch as many "dirty" surfaces as possible. Imagine all these germs hopping on your hands, then your whole body. Then stop and get a cookie. Eat it with your fingers, imagining all these friendly germs going to your stomach. Then imagine all the nice antibodies you are producing. Yum! But your hands are dirty. No problem! Wipe them on your pants. Now you are thirsty, get a soda and sit down. Whoops! It spills on the table. You don't want to waste any. Sop it up with a napkin and wring it out in the cup. In the process, the straw drops on the floor. Pick it up and put it back in the drink. Now drink the delicious ice cold soda. Now, on to more shopping then lunch!
Okay, this might be a bit extreme, but imagining just such an extreme event might help you tolerate the anxiety of daily life with our friends, the germs. I once attended an OCD support group. My fear was that I would somehow harm others by doing something or not doing something. Another lady in the group was afraid of being harmed through contamination. We each made goals. I made cookies for the group and she ate my cookies. I am happy to report we both achieved our goals lived to tell about it. Our fearless leader, who also feared contamination, wiped a cookie on the floor, then ate it!
Cynthia shared a "checking story" with me. If you have OCD, or you know someone with OCD,
I am sure you will find it humorous. I have cats too, and I am a "checker" too, so I understood
her worry. Cynthia wrote:
I went up to another city about an hour from where I live to teach a class at a private school. This was on a Friday night. I had a cell phone with me as none of the school offices are open at that time, in case I need help. No OCD was occurring, so it was a good evening.
I can only state what happened in chronological order, because I think how things went from silly
to bizarre in a few seconds is why I found this so funny.
1. Arrive at class 6:00. OCD attack strikes. Am 1 hour from home. Live with a cat. Could swear I left the oven on. Could swear that the cat is "dead meat". Class is ready to start. I live alone.
2. I call a neighbor who is "hip" to OCD on my cell phone. I know he has a key. He promises to check my condo.
3. I forget to give him my cell phone number.
4. Neighbor goes bananas searching the house. No key. He runs to my condo to see if he smells smoke. Let us note for the record that he does not have OCD, but if I know him much longer, he may get it.
5. Neighbor is at condo. Could swear he smells smoke. Calls fire department.
6. Fire Department blazes into condo parking lot, giving all of the old people who live around me 3 angina attacks.
7. Neighbor explains situation to fire department volunteer guy. Please note that this fire department volunteer guy had to pull on his pants and rush to the fire house for this adventure. I presume he doesn't have OCD either.
8. Fire Dept. guy sniffs, and smells smoke, he thinks. He could SWEAR he smells smoke. By now, neighbor without key needs heavy sedation.
9. During this time, I am blissfully teaching away.
10. Fire Dept. guy KICKS the DOOR DOWN.
11. the oven is NOT on.........the cat is fine......my neighbor lays down with a cold cloth on his head.....Volunteer fire guy goes back to bed. [They both were smelling the mulch that had freshly been spread that morning.] I laughed so hard when I saw the door that I wet my pants.
Love to all, Captain Cynthia of the starship NCC 1701-OCD
Here is a story from Beth. I have done this many, many times. Id make excuses for going back to check something. For example, I might tell my husband and son I forgot something and we need to go back to the house. Then I would check the stove or coffee pot or whatever. The trick here is to remember to get the item supposedly forgotten!
Beth: This is not really funny but I had the same habit with checking that you had. I had to go back and check to see if I ran over someone. One time I told my boss that I had to go because my contact was hurting and that I would be right back. She was kind of upset that I had to leave but she understood and besides it was not yet busy. Well when I went back to check all was normal and I realized that. After thinking about it I realized it was a piece of flower, you know the dandelions that "fly" across the road that I had been stressed about.
About twenty years ago, when I was a 14 year old kid, I collected stamps. A local stamp
dealer in the Boston area allowed me to take home a parcel of about two hundred stamps to
sort through and look over in the comfort of my own home. My agreement with the stamp man
was that, the next time that I saw him, I could pay for those stamps that I liked at
2-cents a piece while returning the rest.
There never was a next time. My family moved right after he loaned me the stamps and those stamps out on loan from him got packed up along with the rest of my stuff to New York. At about age 19, I developed OCD and I remember that at about this same time, I came across the stamps when I was home from college visiting my parents.
I remember that this was right before final exams during my sophomore year and that I was really struggling that semester in a graduate level statistics course. When finals came around I resolved to stay up all night preparing for that exam. So, armed with a 2 liter bottle of mountain dew and 100 tea bags, I stayed up all night preparing for the examination. A funny thing happened though. Instead of doing desperately needed studying for the statistics exam, I spent almost the entire time obsessing about whether or not it was right for me to be still holding on to those stamps. Needless to say, I bombed the exam. Curiously, after the exam was over, I no longer gave a fig about those stamps and didn't think about them for almost 14 years.
Fast forward 15 years into the future, and I'm studying for my fall semester finals as a 1st year law student. Wouldn't you know it, I start worrying about those stamps again. "What if the Bar Association found out, they would fail me on the character check that all lawyers must go through". So, I called the guy up. But, I learned that he was no longer in business. The only thing left was to hire a private detective so that I could track this guy down so that I could return those dammned stamps and get on with my studying. Was I able to find him. Well, that's another story for another time.
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