Mommy Nurse Wife and 25!

Sunday, July 23, 2006

OCD

I have a personal theory that all nurses have a touch of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

I know for sure that I do. I can remember back to being 10 years old laying in my bed at night worrying that the stove was on or the front door wasn't locked. I would lay there until I would HAVE to get out of my bed and check. Then I would get back in my bed after assuring we weren't in danger of a fire or break-in, and worry that I really hadn't seen that the stove was off or that the door was locked and have to get back up and check on it. I thought this was normal.

And about the same time I also became obsessed with order. Mainly the order of my room. Everything HAD to be in its place. The figures on my dresser, my books, my clothes, they all had a designated place and remained there unless used. One day, my friend Allen locked himself in my room and told me he was moving 2 things. I can clearly remember standing outside my door having what I now realize was a panic attack waiting for that door to open. As soon as it was opened I burst in the room and within ten seconds realized that two toys on my bookshelf had been reversed. I fixed them, then was OK.

This continued into college where it lessened a bit while living with roommates. When I met Donnie and moved in with him it also lessened because I wasn't yet at home in his house. I have since made this house my home and now my OCD is back in full force. I can not sleep at night if the cushions on the couch are crooked, if the toys are not in their place after the kids are in bed, or any of the rugs are not at a perpendicular angle to the wall. If there are things out of place, or even worse, things are homeless, I hide them in a drawer, cabinet, or throw them away because I can't stand to look at them.

It also followed me to work in the ICU. I was OK at first with all of the new things I was learning and experiencing, but once I got a little comfortable it came back on strong. When I moved to the ED it also lessened but as I am now coming to recognize, it is back at work with me now like an old friend.

I figured this out a few weeks ago when I caught myself straighting the tape dispenser and the stapler. Then I couldn't stand to look at the pile of paper on the desk and couldn't think of anything else until it was in the recycle bin. So in the past few weeks I catch myself doing it more and more. It really doesn't interfere with my work but it's just something that I have to do.

And I can recognize that this is sort of crazy. Who gives a shit if the stapler and the tape dispenser aren't at a 90 degree angle to the wall? I do. So a few months ago my mom pointed out to my while I was having a panic attack in the car ride to Myrtle Beach that feeling this anxious all of the time is not normal. It was such a weight off my shoulders to hear that. Until then I really thought everyone felt this way. So off I went to my PCP and discussed all of this anxiety and my compulsions (Which, as you all can predict has gotten worse than ever after having kids) and he put me on Prozac.

I felt a lot better in the beginning but am back to my old habits now. They are much better, but still present. My PCP said this is something I will have to deal with for the rest of my life and now I can really see that's true. My anxiety is much better on the meds and I am a little more relaxed at home with my compulsions (Donnie wouldn't say so, but whatever).

But my whole point to this long and boring story is that I think because I'm a nurse it adds to my underlying OCD. We all have our "quirks" and by being compulsive and methodical it helps us be good nurses. Am I way off base with this or do others see it? One of my good friends, and a nurse whom I respect deeply, cleans each and every phone practically as her coat is off. My mom has to write with a blue, fine tip, BIC pen. Another nurse I know can't work until the med room is clean. A lot of nurses, I have observed, will put the exact same things in his or her pockets at the start of shift (and yes, this is for practical reasons but it's also from a comfort standpoint. How many times in an ED do you really use Kelly clamps for God's sake? (And if you use them a lot, should I carry them with me????)) My friend M. has to write out the staffing for the next day on the whiteboard at the same time each night. I knew one nurse who always had to twist a knob on the wall each and every time she walked past it. ..oh wait, me again. Man, I AM nuts!!!

So, sorry to blab on about this. It is actually really therapeutic to put this all down in writing so thanks for listening. And, you other crazy nurses out there, if you exist, just think of silly Cassie arranging the stapler and tape dispenser while you methodically do your own rituals!

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