Sit right back, and we’ll read a tale, a tale of my OCD. It started when I was born, which I will write this morn. This is very loosely based on the opening of the 60’s television’s program ‘Gilligans Island.’ Welcome back to the thrice part of my life dealing with my OCD issues that have been around for the majority of my time here on Earth. As we will see, the use of number three will occur throughout the article to come. OCD is not me, only a part of me.
Later in 1994, change was occurring and boy, was I ready. Some people believe and actually say things happen in threes, like the deaths of famous individuals, the birth of people around us, etc. For me, three distinct colleagues of mine told me about the same opportunity.
My vocational counsellor set up the initial interview at the Department of Mental Health in Mineola to become an assistant case manager. After that, I had two additional interviews with Nassau Case Management, one in Hempstead and one in Valley Stream. My OCD increased due to the wait between meetings. Finally, on 11th October 1994, I was hired for the Valley Stream office to be an assistant case manager I.
My role was to work Tuesdays and Fridays for about 10 hours being paid and learn what to do and accomplish the assigned tasks. Of course, my OCD was high because, in the beginning, there was minimal training. Also, other ACM were not helpful, but there was one. His days were the same as mine, and a good working relationship developed. About a year later March of 1995, I was given an opportunity to get five more hours, the third shift at a Continuing Day Program (CDT) on Wednesdays. Three months later, I was promoted to ACM II, which required me to work about 15 to 20 hours weekly, increasing salary and new and different responsibilities.
Despite my OCD, I decided it was a great challenge, and I accepted the advancement to ACM II. My position was going well, but my role was modified for another time. It was on my birthday in 1996, and I would no longer report to the CDT, and my additional hours would be transferred to Case Management Office in Valley Stream. On 1st February 1998, I was hired full-time as an ACM III with an actual salary within two years. Wow, talking of OCD moments.
All we heard everywhere was that Y2K would wreak havoc around the world. A phenomenon was going to happen, and it would occur at the end of 1999. When we vaulted into the next following time, it would be a new year, a new decade, a new century and of course, a new millennium called 2000. Some individuals actually thought that on 31st December 1999, our existence would be ended catastrophically or altered entirely. Our computer systems would shut down, and everything on these would be eradicated forever.
However, when 2000 arrived, all of us and our computer technology was incomplete and accurate running order. People like myself who deal with OCD checked on everyone and everything numerous times to ensure it was safe for all. Finding this lack of change was quite settling for me and unnerving for some of us. Having OCD is a blessing for me, as we all and our possessions survived. It was wonderful. OCD is not me, only a part of me.
‘This is the dawning of the Age of Aquarius,’ by the 5th Dimension, are as important lyrics when we begin the new millennium as they were when written in the late 1960s. Welcome everyone to the 21st Century, and most of us made it. Does anyone really think that OCD and its symptoms go away as we enter the new century and the new millennium? Yeah, It was wishful thinking. Therefore, it definitely does not, but we can all hope to find different ways to manage what transpires.
Of course, there are major events in real life that shape our well-being and will challenge our symptoms of anxiety and OCD. We were not making things up previously, but sometimes having an actual incident or two bits of help. Others see these occurrences as a realistic, tangible and special occasion. These types of episodes can be positive or negative but generally happen only once. Despite this, OCD thinking will last longer. CBT taught me belief positively and aided me through these times. Again, OCD is not me, only part of me.
On 11th September 2001, our lives were changed forever. When those terrorists were mandated to crash those series of planes, two into the Twin Towers in New York, the one diverted by passengers and landed in a field near Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The one into The Pentagon in nearby Washington DC lives spiralled way out of control. Over 3,000 died in these Al Qaeda attacks. Naturally, they did not care as it was their suicide mission to kill these human beings worldwide and eventually die themselves.
OCD and fear reigned supreme. Many individuals had to stay home and perform various ritualistic behaviours that had to be done repeatedly. Survival instincts took over, and we really had to take everything one moment at a time. Also, our OCD and fear made plenty of us think that this would happen again and again. ‘Let the Sunshine In’ and positive thinking became the new way to continue. 2001 was a sad year for the vast majority of us plus our resolve and resilience helped us get through this troubling time. One more time, OCD is not me, only a part of me.
Howard Diamond is a certified peer specialist in New York.