Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Excerpt from "My Life in Mental Chains"

A prisoner of my obsessions, a slave to my compulsions. That's what my life had become. I now know that my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) must have begun gradually, but the day I became fully aware of my problem is a frightening memory that has been seared into my mind with a painful brand.

I was working as a dental hygienist in Indiana. It was February. Outside it was snowing big, heavy, wet flakes. Inside, I was cleaning the treatment room after finishing my patient. Up to that point, it seemed like any other Thursday.

But suddenly, out of nowhere, came a terrifying thought: What if I didn't get every tiny crevice absolutely, perfectly disinfected, and my next patient got some terrible disease from the previous patient? It would be entirely my fault! I kept cleaning the same surfaces over and over. My heart began to race. I sweated profusely. Where had that crazy thought come from? I'd never experienced anything like that before.

I was forced to stop cleaning, however, when I looked up to see my employer, his skinny hands on his narrow hips, standing in my doorway. "Hurry up!" he said. "You're running behind."

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