How OCD "Contaminated" My Relationships

Woman walking away from wilted flowers

Verywell / Madelyn Goodnight

I remember having issues with contamination from very early on. My first thoughts about this happened when I was only five years old. I remember worrying about all sorts of things as I got a few years older. I would stress over food touching "poison" and resulting in me dying, and I would freak out if food touched the floor.

While other children were having what appeared to be tons of fun, I was worried about much larger issues. Dying, people I love dying, getting sick, and all sorts of fears. I would have to count things obsessively, touch things, un-touch things, recount things, and perform all sorts of rituals.

The way that my mind worked was, "If I don't walk in and out of the room in a certain order, a certain number of times, XYZ would happen.” I remember this happening since around the age of eight and people looking at me strangely. Over the years, the rituals and strangeness seemed to carry over to other things. I was always excessively anxious, neurotic, and even highly depressed when I reached my teen years.

The way that my mind worked was, 'If I don't walk in and out of the room in a certain order, a certain number of times, XYZ would happen.'

I had been seeing therapists since the age of six, so by the time I was a teenager, it was all pretty "normal" to me. No one told me that OCD could change forms over the years. It almost disguised itself, and somehow no matter what I did, it seemed to rear its ugly head back into my mind and into my life. It came out in all sorts of strange forms and I had no idea how to deal with any of it or articulate it.

From around 14 years of age, I started becoming increasingly more obsessed with guys, boyfriends, and relationships. I know that this is completely normal for a teenager but for me, it totally took over. I started quite early with everything and unlike other teenagers, who would have a boyfriend and still obtain good grades, it didn't work like that for me. I would obsess completely and my brain would not be able to compartmentalize it. This continued for many more years to come. I did not know it at the time, but this was just beginning.

I found myself "counting" just like I did when I was younger, but this time it revolved around hot guys. I would have lists and obsessions, all pertaining to boys. I also would obsess over other people's relationship history and compare myself. No one knew about these thoughts or what was happening in my brain, as it was completely embarrassing. I also wanted to be cool and nonchalant.

I also made it my life's mission to be around and date the hottest guys possible according to my own strange criteria. Nothing seemed to matter more to me, and I was able to literally block out everything else. Everyone around me started succeeding in things as the years went on, and there I was with my only accomplishment to date: dating a hot guy. It was immature but more than that, it was completely obsessive and I hated it. 

I also had many friends over the years and friendship circles that I have lost count of. I would have a close friendship with somebody and then all of sudden I would realize something about them bothered me. It could be anything from they were "too slutty" or they were "actually nasty," and I would cut them off.

I would have a close friendship with somebody and then all of sudden I would realize something about them bothered me.

There were times when my brain told me to have as many friends as possible. Then, a few years later I would consider the majority of friends that I had to be "contaminated" and I would cut them all out of my life. I would then go through phases where I would want to stay at home as much as possible and isolate myself. I would see clubs, bars, and local hangouts as "dirty." Then, it would all change up again and I would need to go out as much as possible to "cleanse myself.”

It seemed to me that everybody else had figured it out but me. It was like I was totally missing something. I realized that I was missing a best friend. Having a genuine, good human to confide in and trust would've been more important than my OCD shenanigans. The moment that I stopped listening to my OCD, everything fell into place for me. 

I am a slave driver to my OCD brain, and I am glad that I finally have some explanation for my absurd, obsessive, controlling, intrusive thoughts and thought patterns. I was bullied badly all throughout my school years and my OCD bullied me all over again.

If I had one wish for people, it would be for the world to be fully educated on OCD, the different types and manifestations of OCD, and how it can drastically impact your relationships in a vast way. I know that there are plenty of people suffering and I wish that they could get the help that they need in order to not go through any of the things that I did.

If you or a loved one are struggling with OCD, contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment facilities in your area.

For more mental health resources, see our National Helpline Database.

By Lauren Gerber
Lauren Gerber is a writer and psychology enthusiast with many years of work experience in digital marketing, both national and international. She strongly advocates against breaking the stigma against mental health.