My previous post spoke of some success I had with riding a bike for the first time in many years. I forced myself to push forward, even though I was very fearful. I felt really good about that. However, in spite of that accomplishment, I was still plagued by many obsessions. These thoughts ran the gamut from just downright silly, to quite frightening. I'm sure the following does not cover every obsession I experienced that day. These are just the ones that I recall.
First, I hate getting sweaty. I always feel so filthy and uncomfortable. I was definitely anxious about sitting down on my car's cloth seats afterwards for fear of contaminating them. Additionally, I was petrified of hurting someone with my bike. I recently heard about an elderly woman in the Boston area who suffered a fractured pelvis due to being hit by a bicyclist. I certainly didn't want to be responsible for that type of an injury.
After I fell and injured my leg, I was also mildly worried about getting MRSA. There is an unfortunate Georgia college student who is now currently fighting for her life, even in spite of having had one leg, one foot, and both of her hands amputated to stop the infection. She was infected with the MRSA bacteria after getting a large gash on her leg. I have to admit, I've been occasionally checking my knee for signs of infection. I was also concerned about the blood dripping down my leg from my injury. I took off my sock and sneaker in order to rinse the blood off of my knee, but then I was concerned about putting my sock and sneaker back on, because I thought they would become contaminated. It was hard for me to put my sneakers on even today, one week later.
I had one last obsession that was quite upsetting. I considered not writing about it all. It's just really hard to admit, because I feel like it makes me look so weird and strange. Frankly, it's humiliating. I know, though, that many others with OCD probably struggle with these types of obsessions as well, so I feel in my heart it is better to share this.
While biking, I was wearing a special little skirt that came with a pair of bike shorts to wear underneath. We were riding at a pretty fast speed at times, and the wind would lift up my skirt. I wasn't concerned about it, though, because I knew I had the special bike shorts on underneath. However, when I got home, I realized that the bike shorts were quite a bit more see-through than I had previously thought. I was horrified. I immediately felt guilty and ashamed. Then the obsessions began. "Oh, no, I'm going to be arrested for indecent exposure! Everybody at church is going to find out and hate me. I'll never be able to show my face in public again. I should have made sure my skirt stayed down. What is wrong with me? I'm such an idiot. I did a really bad thing. I'm a bad person." Over and over again, these thoughts kept repeating in panicky, rapid-fire sequence. I cannot begin to tell you how real these thoughts felt. As recently as a few days ago, I was still unsure if I would be arrested or not. I was so disturbed by this that I immediately started compulsively asking my husband if I would indeed be taken to jail.
Me: Do you think I'll be arrested?
Me: Are you sure?
Husband: Yes, I'm sure.
Me: Really, are you really sure? I mean, it could happen, right?
Of course, this was not enough reassurance, so I next called my mom.
Me: Do you think I'll be arrested?
Me: I don't know . . . are you sure?
Mom: I said, no! Now don't ask me again, because I'm not going to answer you. This is reassurance and I'm not doing it.
I got off of the phone, and to tell you the truth, the reassurance didn't really help all that much. Often times, it doesn't. The only thing that helps is time. Time to cry. Time to get adjusted to the high level of anxiety. Time to see that nothing really is going to happen. Time to let my brain adjust to the thought and realize that it probably is a stupid thought. Time to pray, and to ask the Lord to help me. "Please God, just one more time, save me!"
OCD is hard. Even when you "do" all the right actions and (mostly) fight the compulsions, it's still painful. Moreover, this pain is secret and hidden. Other people would never be able to recognize that all of this was going through my head. I can carry on a complete conversation with someone while these obsessions swirl around my brain. Sigh. I often wonder how much private pain goes on in the lives of those around me.