In the prison of your own mind: Responsibility OCD

Have you ever been afraid of accidentally putting someone in danger?

Well, worrying about others is absolutely normal. But people with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder take these worries to a new level.

Lately, I’ve been spending some time on Reddit and reading other people’s stories about “Responsibility OCD” reminded me to an obsession that used to give me a lot of sleepless nights. This is what I’ll write about in today’s post. And why do I think that having OCD is like being in the prison of your own mind? Read my story, and you’ll understand!

OCD, the bottle of champagne and Reese’s

The obsession that I’m going to talk about started on a beautiful Friday night. I’ve always been a very social and out-going person, so my Friday nights are usually about going out with friends and having a couple of drinks. So on the night when my obsession started, my friends and me went to my city’s “party district” – it’s a place full of so-called “ruin bars” (bars that are built in the ruins of abandoned buildings in the old Jewish Quarter). We wanted to make sure that we’d have enough drinks so we decided to buy a huge bottle of champagne at a supermarket and we were drinking it while walking to our final destination.

A ruin bar in Budapest.
Source: http://www.magyarnemzet.hu

Now, buying a bottle of champagne is not something unusual – but getting that particular bottle of champagne was a decision that I’d regret for a long long time.

The first mistake we did made was overestimating the distance between the supermarket and the bar where we were going to.
Unfortunately, we had not had enough time to finish off a whole bottle of champagne and as it was very cold outside we really did not want to stand at the corner and drink. So we decided to leave our half full bottle of champagne on a bench. Here, I’d like to ask everyone not to judge me for doing that: the nightlife in my city often gets very crazy which means that there’s always someone who’ll want to finish off a bottle of drink they find on a random bench. So at the end of the day, we just wanted to be nice.

But things do not always work out the way you thought they would. Especially if you have OCD. The beginning of the night was pretty nice: chatting, drinking and having fun – exactly what you’d want your Friday night to look like. However, OCD is a kind of monster that one can never escape from.

I normally imagine my OCD as a kind of ugly monster who whispers irrational things (intrusive thoughts) into my ears and that’s exactly what that terrible beast did on that night. It wanted to remind me of the bottle of champagne we’d left on the bench.

Wait a sec….what does it have to do with OCD? At the first glance, nothing at all: but believe me, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is very creative and it’s capable of creating new, shocking obsessions out of insignificant things. And I ate Reese’s (love them) right before drinking from that bottle of champagne.

Okay, Mark went nuts. At this point, I guess many of my readers are like: now, what is this weirdo guy talking about?
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder….a bottle of champagne left on a bench and Reese’s?

But let me tell you what my inner OCD voice was telling me: so you ate Reese’s – which are full of peanut butter – and then, you were drinking from that bottle of champagne and finally you decided to leave it on a bench so that someone would take it and finish it off.

But what if the person who finds it is allergic to peanuts?

What if that poor person is allergic to peanuts?

And you will be the one to blame for that! If someone dies, that will be your fault! Totally your fault!

So what do you think I did? Obviously, I ran out of the bar to check if the bottle of champagne was still on the bench. And of course it was not. Are you kidding? Friday night in the party district? Guess it disappeared a few seconds after we left.

And the disappearance of this bottle of champagne meant the start of a new obsession.
Someone having an anaphylactic shock because of me was not the only thing I was afraid of, but my OCD came up with an endless list of disturbing possibilities:

Let’s say, the person who finds it is not allergic to peanuts. (I checked a few statistics to see how many people have peanut allergy and I tried to convince myself that it’s extremely unlikely that the person who picked up our drink was suffering from peanut allergy)

But another what if question soon appeared:

What if someone put laxatives into the bottle? (You know, there’s always that person who thinks such things are funny.) And then, the person who took the bottle of champagne could be allergic to laxatives! Or both to laxatives and to peanuts!

Or even worse: what if someone put poison into it? It’s EXTREMELY unlikely but it can happen, can it not? And if it happens, I will not only be responsible for someone’s death but I will be in a big trouble.

A storm of “what if” questions, doubt, guilt, fear of uncertainty.

By the end of the night, I checked all allergy statistics available on the internet, all Budapest news and I guess my friends would have preferred running away from me because I’d ask them at least 10 times an hour what they thought about this whole situation: you know, the typical reassurance seeking – guess most of OCD sufferers are way too familiar with it.

And this obsession went on for a couple of weeks. Feeling of guilt, constant doubt, thousands of Google searches and hundreds of phone calls with friends.

How did this obsession go away?

It appeared suddenly, out of nowhere. And it took time to get rid of it, but it got gradually better and better.
One thing that particularly helped me was understanding the way OCD works. Something that I just call the “OCD cycle”.
Check out this article to learn more about it: https://over-coming-ocd.com/2019/12/27/ocd-how-to-break-the-vicious-cycle/

What did I learn from this obsession?

  1. You may not be able to stop having intrusive thoughts but the harder you fight against having them, the more likely they come back.
  2. OCD has a lot of different faces and compulsions are not always easy to recognize.
  3. Try not to rely on others: it’s very tempting to seek reassurance from your loved ones but it’s something that you can not do 24/7. It’s very difficult to stop doing it but if you get used to it, it’ll be even more difficult for you to cope with your anxiety when they’re not around.
  4. Never ever leave a bottle of champagne on a bench: okay, avoiding certain situations will not help your OCD, but at the end of the day, leaving a half full bottle of alcoholic drink on a bench is not an okay thing to do.

Share your story!

As you know, there’s one thing that I enjoy more than writing my stories: reading yours! πŸ™‚

Please share your OCD stories in the comment section!

Mark

Now on Twitter: https://twitter.com/MarkWester14 . Follow me!

12 thoughts on “In the prison of your own mind: Responsibility OCD

  1. So funny πŸ˜‚.I used to have a very bad OCD too.It even brought disagreement between me and my sister.For me,it is about anyone eating half their food and throwing the rest in the bin.i would have sleepless nights thinking hard how poor people may be dying πŸ˜₯ and this other person here is throwing food🀣and many more other issues that made me a prisoner of my mind🀣for many years.Thank God I have learnt to reconcile with myself.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. πŸ˜€ yes, now that I’m looking back at all the irrational stuff I was thinking of and I was doing, it looks pretty funny indeed but at that time it was obviously not haha πŸ™‚
      Me too I feel very bad about throwing food away, but fortunately, this feeling never went out of contorl.
      I’m glad to hear that you’re doing better nowadays! πŸ™‚
      Cheers
      Mark

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Mark, I read this post a few times. I counted 5 times when you wrote “what if”, and then wrote about a storm of “what ifs”.
    We can challenge the ‘what if’ thinking. Those two words used together create anxiety.

    For example: ‘What if it rains,’ can immediately rephrased as: ” What if it doesn’t rain.”.
    “What if ? questions are very typical of OCD thinking patterns. These can be better managed as they are recognized, and immediately challenged.
    This post gave excellent insight into how this thinking pattern can be frustrating.
    Thanks for sharing. πŸ€—

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi there πŸ™‚
      I am glad you liked this post πŸ™‚
      And thank you very much for your advice about challenging “what if” questions. It’s always been one of the most difficult things for me. First of all, because at the beginning of my OCD journey, I did not even use to recognize that “what if” questions have something to do with OCD. And as you have said recognizing them helps a lot.
      One thing that helps me sometimes is asking myself “so what?” – like okay, lets say I may do something stupid, but so what? (Obviously this only works if my obsession is not about accidentally harming someone…)
      And another thing that I should stop doing is googling everything – Google is amazing but using it for reassurance seeking is definitely not the best thing for my OCD πŸ˜€

      Blessings

      Mark

      Like

      1. Hi Mark !
        So what ? is also an excellent response to the ‘what if’ questions.
        You are gaining lots of insight into OCD thinking patterns. And thanks also for being willing to talk about your insights because they help others too. πŸ€—

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Hi Sally
        Yeah – thats a positive side effect of OCD πŸ™‚ It made me interested at a lot of things: like I am the type of person who really enjoys learning new things and it helps me a lot to read and write about OCD.

        Actually you gave me a perfect idea for my next post: the inner OCD voice πŸ™‚ so thank you very much for inspiring ❀ (and for reading and supporting, it means a lot to me to see that there are people out there who understand me)

        Mar'

        Like

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