When My OCD Causes Uncertainty and Doubt
Posted on February 12, 2018
As a person with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), I have struggled with doubt and uncertainty since I was a young child. OCD is often dubbed “the doubting disease” because it makes you second-guess yourself. And uncertainty about life can make my anxiety skyrocket. Doubt and uncertainty about life with OCD can be debilitating, but I am finding small ways to cope.
Dealing With Extreme Possibilities as an OCD Sufferer
“The cat is in the dryer,” I tell myself. “The cat is most definitely in the dryer.” A worst-case-scenario to some, perhaps, but a daily worry for me. Our kitten tries to climb into the dryer whether the clothes are wet or dry, increasing the possibility that she will meet her demise by my unwitting hand. In addition, a friend once told me a real-life horror story where a kitten was killed in this manner. Doubt and uncertainty from OCD cause me to look for the cat every time I start the dryer, even if it’s clear that the cat is not wriggling around beneath the clothes.
I Have Always Imagined Severe Consequences for My Actions
Doubt often leads me to believe in extreme possibilities and consequences of my actions. When I was in elementary school I worried about things that most kids don’t give a second thought about. Some little girls on the playground told me that because I wasn’t baptized, I was going to hell. The thought of hell and the uncertainty about my good nature plagued me. When I tricked my teacher into giving me an unclaimed book from the class book order, I began to obsess that I had stolen the book. One negative thought led to another, and pretty soon I was lamenting my certain condemnation to hell. My OCD forced my doubt into overdrive, thus making a seemingly insignificant event have dire consequences.
Life Is Full of Uncertainty—What If
I have always had trouble with life and the “what if” factor. What if I don’t do something and it causes a catastrophe? Incidents where my doubt is proven right only enforce the tendency to doubt other things in life. My life since my divorce has been full of doubt and uncertainty, and my OCD is often at full throttle. One outcome depends on another, and I have several major life-altering events in play right now. Though the uncertainty and doubt from my OCD try to take over, I find I am better equipped to handle the possibilities for seemingly simple reasons.
Positive Possibilities Instead of Dire Consequence
I am learning to cope with the daily uncertainty of life and OCD by imagining positive outcomes instead of negative ones. I am more confident and self-assured since I survived the dissolution of my marriage. And though there has been heartbreak and uncertainty, there has also been some great joy. I’ve often seen a quote from a poem by author Erin Hanson on social media. “You ask ‘What if I fall?’ Oh but my darling, what if you fly?” I have to believe that not all things must end with death or despair. I have to believe that despite my OCD, I can handle whatever life throws at me. I’ve been surviving for many years. It’s time for me to thrive.
Author: Cheryl Slavin
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