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J.R. Buchanan


Me, My Thoughts, and I

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February 23, 2015


As I've mentioned here before, I have OCD. My symptoms aren't debilitating, as OCD so often is, so I often say that the bipolar has messed with my life more than the OCD.

But that's not entirely true. There are three symptoms that do bother me. The first is obsessive worry about contamination. The second is intrusive thoughts. The third is plants.


My primary contamination worries are chemicals and pesticides.

Something that does not worry me is germs. One of the first things that people think of when they hear OCD is the person who worries about touching doorknobs, sitting on seats on buses, etc. Those things don't bother me at all. I have an awesome immune system and I know it. I hardly ever get sick (but when I do, it's usually pretty bad). When it comes to worry about germs, I hardly ever wash my hands. I'm not alone in this, there is a book called, "I Hardly Ever Wash My Hands: The Other Side of OCD" by J.J. Keeler. I've never read it, but plan to "some day."

What does worry me, and can send me to the sink to wash my hands, or even to the shower for a complete scrub down, is certain chemicals, and most particularly, pesticides. It is almost impossible for me to treat the yard for weeds (I'm embarrassed by the weeds in our yard), and spraying insecticide is almost impossible as well. If we buy some pesticide for my wife, or a friend, to apply and carry it home in the back of the van, I find it difficult to eat food transported back there. In fact I have to wash my hands after touching the outside of the shopping bag it's in. It's a problem.

Intrusive thoughts

Here's one that really bothers me. I've read that many people with OCD have ugly unwanted thoughts intrude into their heads. It certainly happens to me. For years I was scared to tell anyone that I had them, for fear that they would not understand that I hate these thoughts, and be scared of me for having them. I've never told anyone, not my wife, or my therapist, what some of these thoughts are, for the same reason. But after talking to my therapist, and reading some books on OCD, I discovered that they are common, and no one acts on them. As my therapist put it, if I enjoyed these thoughts, there would be a real problem, but since they horrify me, I need never be worried about taking action. They're still pretty freaky, but at least I'll admit to having them, even if I won't say what they are.


This one can cause problems in the yard too. Some plants are absolutely repulsive to me, and I can't touch them. There's one kind of weed that grows here that is so horrific that I can't get within about 6 feet of it.

I can remember when this started. I was about 4 years old, walking down the street with my father, and we came to a yard where a storm had uprooted a tree. The roots were horrible. I insisted that we walk on the other side of the street. I can still remember it vividly 49 years later.

Fortunately, not all plants bother me. Really familiar ones, such as grass and trees don't bother me -until I see roots. Ugh. Vegetables I've always eaten like broccoli or green beans don't bother me. Vegetables I don't eat, such as asparagus or brussel sprouts, freak me out.

So when I say that the bipolar has messed with my life more than the OCD, I may be implying that the OCD does not limit me, but in truth it does.

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