Archive for June 17th, 2009

I just realized that I have not written very much about obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) on this blog. That surprises me because I have struggled with OCD throughout my life. As I have healed a lot of the anxiety, my symptoms have decreased. However, when I get triggered, some of them return with a vengeance. Fortunately, I have been successful in ending some of the more troubling OCD symptoms.

My OCD symptoms have run the gamut. The most amusing symptom to my friends is my compulsion to hoard pens. I used to have to have five pens in my purse plus a spare at all times. No, I do not mean that I needed six pens. I needed at least five pens plus a spare to be okay. The spare was to fill in if one of the five pens got lost or broke. The spare would ensure that I never dropped below five pens in my purse.

Of course, insurance pens were very comforting to me, so I would add additional pens to my purse, just to be on the safe side. I believe my record was carrying around over 30 pens at one time. Typical was more in the 20-pen range.

After adopting a baby and having to switch over to carrying around a diaper bag, I got to where I was okay with two or three pens. I typically carry more on me (around 10), but I am okay as long as I have a couple of pens on me.

One of my friends recently asked if she could take all of my pens (I think I had four on me) and return them in one hour, just to see what my reaction would be. I became very anxious. My heart rate increased, and my breathing got shallow. If she had taken them, I would have driven straight to Target to buy more pens because I could not handle not having any pens in my purse. I only got myself to calm down by reminding myself that I had spare pens in the car. My friend gave me my pens back and was shocked at the severity of my reaction to the thought of being without my pens.

My sister has the same reaction, only in her case, she hoards pencils. We talked about why we thought we both had the same compulsion to hoard writing instruments. She thinks it has to do with having a voice. We had no voices as children, but, as long as we had a writing utensil, we still had a way to communicate, even when we were silenced. If we lose our writing utensils, then we no longer have a way to be “heard.”

I honestly don’t know why I am this freaky about needing to have so many pens around. The pens in the picture are just a few that I keep in my office. I chose those for the picture because they are my favorite brand. (In case you have a pen fetish, the best brand is the one in the picture, which is the SRX Stix Grip 1.0 mm ball point pen. Rose Art used to make them, but they sold them to SRX. You can find them at Target.) I have many more in my office, my purse, in the kitchen, by the phone downstairs, and in the car. I also have three unopened packs of the SRX pens in my office. Yes, I clearly have an issue with hoarding pens.

This is only one of my OCD symptoms. I will discuss more tomorrow.

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Photo credit: Faith Allen

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