Denise, 50, Boston, USA

I see a story about cancer on TV: maybe it’s a message I have cancer. I need to check repetitively for lumps.

denise-no-textI have had OCD since childhood. I started with motor tics (head, shoulder and arm), which morphed into rituals in first grade (frequently using eraser, issues with certain numbers, having to have things feel right). I was diagnosed at Boston’s Children’s Hospital and put on clomipramine and Xanax in early adolescence. Due to side effects, med compliance was poor.

My OCD has been more manageable at some points in my life, but never resolved. For example, I wasted about 10 years of my life fearing that I had contracted AIDS. I never know what my next OCD obsession will be. Generally, my fears are health-related, worrying about my children’s safety, or thinking I ‘have power’ to cause bad things. My rituals are magical thinking in nature – I recite the names of the Presidents over and over until it feels right, and I recite the Gettysburg Address repetitively (quietly in my head) in order to ‘protect’ a bad thing from happening to me or my family.

I also avoid certain colors, i.e. red = blood = disease. I have a hard time writing certain numbers, i.e. if I make a ‘8’, and the circles don’t look right to me, I think they look like tumors, and I have to re-write things until they feel safe.

To say I have wasted so much time on OCD is an understatement! Even when I am functioning, I work full-time, and I always have another track running in my head with rituals. It’s exhausting!

Categories: The Wall

Tagged as: , ,

3 replies »

  1. I just read your post and it has left me very very hopeless. I have had OCD since 2 or 3 years ago. I mean severe OCD, when you start with the repetition of phrases in your head and all of that. Maybe in the past I had some obsessions but they were specific things and when those things ended the obsession ended. Like when I had to study or something. But now reading your post when you say that you have had OCD since childhood and that you have not been able to resolve it even with medication (that I have not tried yet) honestly makes me want to kill myself.

    So there is no solution for this? I am going to be suffering this shit the rest of my life? This is worse than a physical illness because a physical illness is cure by medication and the pain then disappear but this thing is always with you, there is no cure, nobody sees it, you seem normal outside but in your brain in it is like hell. What has happened to me to get this thing? Why? I haven’t had a rough life. Some problems with my parents arguing all the time and maybe too much time alone in the computer or in video games but nothing that many kids do thiese days and other people have suffered worse things like his parents beating them or dying… I don’t understand it. Why my life has gone to shit with this little stupid thing? My life is like a nightmare. I don’t know what I am going to do from here on.


    • I am sorry to hear you’re having a difficult time. Please know that there are solutions and there is HOPE! You are definitely not alone! While there are many stories of struggles here on The Secret Illness, there are also many stories of recovery.

      If you’d like to connect with some reputable sources for support, there is an organisation in the UK called OCD Action that has a support line. You can either email them at or call the helpline number on 0845 390 6232. They have a volunteer support team there who really understands OCD and what you are going through and you may find it helpful to talk to them. Even if you are not in the UK they can call you wherever you are if you give them your phone number and would like to talk with them directly. The International OCD Foundation also has a resource directory and information about treatment options

      Please take care and know that there is a whole community here who gets your experience and wishes you all the best for finding effective treatment!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s