An Old “Friend” Returns

IMG_1917[1]Blake comes rushing into the kitchen.  I’m sitting at the kitchen counter directly opposite the sink, so I have a front row seat for the action. I quietly watch.  The faucet comes on.  The water comes pouring out.  Pump, pump, pump goes the soap.  A quick rub of the hands, then Blake picks up a cup on the side of the sink. He fills it with water.

Pour, pour, pour.  The water runs over Blake’s first hand.

Pour, pour, pour.  It runs over the second.

I hear him whispering a prayer.  Then he goes to towel dry his hands.

Wait.  That must not have been quite right.

Blake rushes back to the sink.  Pump, pump, pump then pour, pour, pour.  The prayer is whispered again.

This time he doesn’t even move to dry his hands.  He begins again. The water is pouring out of the faucet – and we are in a serious drought.

Pump, pump, pump.

“Blake!  Enough!  This is way more than a simple hand washing.”

He stops.  It’s like he’s just been woken from a daydream and suddenly realizes what he’s doing.

“You’re right,” he says.  Then he goes on to some other activity – far away from the sink.  I know he’ll be back.

Blake’s first OCD symptom that I actually recognized as OCD back when he was seven was hand washing.  He’s been through exposure and response prevention therapy for this a couple of times.  He’s eliminated it both times, but it seems to be the symptom that just keeps cycling back in.

With Blake refusing to fight his OCD, his hands are in jeopardy.  So is my soap dispenser.  It is teetering on its last hold on life.  The incessant pumping is more than it can take.  The water puddles on the kitchen counter.  This is one old “friend” I’d like to send packing.  I hope Blake sees through him and sends him on his way soon.

4 thoughts on “An Old “Friend” Returns

  1. As someone with OCD I used to wash my hands so much they split and bled. Ultimately controlled exposure helped me, though sometimes I still can’t resist the urge.
    But I found that sometimes, someone without OCD telling me it would be OK was the best treatment of all. 🙂

    1. Hi. Thank you for stopping by and commenting. I apologize that it took me so long to get back to you. I tried several times while I was away and my device just wouldn’t accept my comments. Anyhow, thank you for sharing your perspective. I think you point out how strong those urges to do a ritual can really be. Interesting how someone telling you it would be okay was helpful. I wish that would help Blake; I’ve long wished that I could just tell him everything will be okay and that it would take away all his anxiety. Be well! – Angie

  2. Like your son, my OCD first became apparent with my constant hand washing over and over and if I touched anything or someone bumped into me, I would start the entire process all over again. Hands would be raw, cracked, bleeding and painful not to mention sometimes numb from extra hot water. I would walk with my elbows bent looking like a surgeon who just scrubbed up and keep them that way until I felt like it was ok. Over the years the washing has come and gone with other rituals and compulsions taking center stage. Every now and again I call it the rest when the hand washing comes back out of no where and I don’t know why. Best of luck to Blake and you. My mom used to try n hide the soap but it never worked.

    1. Hi. Thank you so much for commenting. OCD is just one of those things. It cycles without rhyme or reason. I know that Blake’s rituals come and go and they switch. Sometimes it is an old one, and sometimes something completely new. Thank you for your good wishes. I wish the same to you!

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