This morning I stopped at the gas station and found myself casing out the other drivers who were going about their business, filling up their tanks, entering the store to buy any number of delectable morning treats, or purchasing unnecessary necessities. None of them cared one iota about me and the business I was conducting, but still, I experienced a level of dubiousness that probably went beyond normal.
I have this unspoken paranoia that one day, I’ll be filling up my tank and some hoodlum will run up to the other side of my car, smash the window, and grab my pink-cow purse; running off with my private belongings that, other than my wallet, would have absolutely zero value to them. You know, the classic smash-and-grab. It happens all the time here in Houston.
I lock my doors when I exit the vehicle even though a locked door is no protection against having a window obliterated. Still, it provides a false sense of security for me. Even more, I have my debit card on me (I don’t carry a checkbook), so if an unsavory character were to exact a gas station robbery, all they would come away with is 2 low limit credit cards (which don’t have much more left until their maxed), my driver’s license, and an HSA card that they couldn’t possibly use because, let’s face it, I don’t carry them on my insurance policy and all transactions would be denied.
I haven’t always had this issue. It’s a recent development (probably in the last 3 months). I attribute it to an instance on the news where a woman was not only robbed at a gas station, but pistol whipped leaving behind a serious gash across her forehead, a broken nose, two black eyes, and her property still gone. Ever since, I’ve obsessed over it. Each time I stop for gas I become stressed out: palms sweaty, nervous twitch, and stomach uneasy.
I wonder if this is part of who I am. As far back as I can remember, I recognize that I would see something, and then worry incessantly that it was going to happen to me. As a kid, it was things like becoming some random victim being bullied or falling on the playground and skinning my knees. But in my glorious adulthood, these obsessions have graduated to violent acts that hold the potential for physical harm.
Probably a little bit.
The Free Dictionary defines Obsessive Compulsive Disorder or OCD as:
“a psychiatric disorder characterized by the presence of either obsessions (repeated, unwanted, often distressing thoughts), or compulsions (the feeling of being driven to repeatedly perform certain behaviors or mental activities), or both, with the symptoms being severe enough to impair normal functioning”
I think I fit that bill…to an extent. I mean, my issue doesn’t prevent me from functioning at a normal level by any means. I still stopped for gas, right? But I do find that I experience high levels of stress when my OCD rears its ugly face. For instance, a year ago I had this unnerving obsession with drivers on the road driving too close to the side of my vehicle. I worried for months that someone was going to sideswipe me at 65 miles per hour or force me off the road, driving me into a concrete barrier effectively ending my existence as I know it. The fear and worry I experienced were palpable. Those four months were hell for me, especially since I work 5 days a week, and let’s face it, Houston traffic is truly a nightmare during rush hour. As you can probably guess, I worked through it.
The only thing that comforts me is that despite my problem, I overcome it. Those fears. Those worries. I face them, even though once I’ve resolved one, another pops up. I try every day. I muster the courage to overcome. Most of all, I don’t allow my fears to paralyze me.
I admire you for being brave enough to accept the issues you are having.
I want to suggest a remedy that may help. List out the top 5 scenarios that make you very anxious, like the one you mentioned in which a hoodlum breaks the glass of your car. Now, with the help of a friend, have these scenarios acted out. You don’t have to necessarily damage your car but your friend(s) have to act really good. Now, in the middle of this act, practice a suitable response. It can start from staying calm, communicating with the ‘attacker’ in a strong yet calm voice. It can also be you practicing how to press a panic button on your phone without glancing on the screen, or attracting other people’s attention.
What I mean to say is: such practical acts can help you in staying calm.
On another hand, I don’t think this is OCD. I have gone through a similar phase when I was younger and overcame with two practices:
1. Knowing everything I can possibly learn about my surroundings. (this includes knowing strengths, weaknesses and possible threats of everything and everyone in the surroundings)
2. Creating a mental list of threats that starts with the most unlikely things and ends with the possible threats. Now, you can easily cancel out (but still be aware of) unlikely threats. For example, if there are people around, you can be assured that no one will dare to harm anyone. And even if they do, they won’t be able to escape.
Hope this helps.
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Thanks for thhe suggestions. I will try them and see if they help.
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I have OCD and this is very similar to what I experience. I have multiple horrific deaths all through the day and they are all in my head. Keep fighting the fear and maybe go to see a psychologist. They will give you a proper diagnosis and give you ways to manage the symptoms.
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