Last night made the list of the top ten scariest nights of my life. The line of tornadoes in Arkansas came just a bit too close to home for comfort. It missed us, but I have friends who were touched, and some of them even lost neighbors. It was a long night for everyone.
It’s not like the storms took us by surprise, however. I’d actually been preparing for them for the last three days. Redoing our Tornado Kits, cleaning the house (Because the tornado might hit my house, but by golly, it’s going to be clean!), and watching storm caser videos on Youtube. Lots and lots of storm chaser videos. Like hours of them.
Ever since childhood, I’ve been somewhat obsessive about the things that scare me. First it was lightning. I was terrified of lightning as a child, to a ridiculous level. Now that I’m older, it’s tornadoes. After lots of careful consideration, the only reason I can come up with for these obsessions over what I fear leads right back to my OCD tendencies. And for the life of me, I can’t find much research that links to it, so I’m going to tell you what I know from personal experience.
How These Obsessions are Different from Typical OCD Obsessions
OCD UK’s article, “The Different Types of Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder” says the different types of can include:
- Contamination / Mental Contamination
- Ruminations / Intrusive Thoughts
The Checking aspect of OCD is one of the more well-known ones, the kind where someone with OCD might make sure his door is locked ten times before going to bed, or the where a woman might wonder all day if she turned off her iron, even though she checked it five times before leaving for work. (Here are a few tips on how to face these urges to check things.)
The contamination urge is probably the most popular aspect of OCD, the one people know about the most. It’s the kind where someone can’t bear to touch a doorknob because she fears catching its germs too much. I struggle with this aspect of OCD a bit when it comes to toilets. I. Hate. Toilets. Instead of just worrying about getting a cold, however, people with this disorder often worry that touching things will lead to their death.
Psych Central’s article, “10 Things You Should Know About Hoarding” says that while not everyone who hoards has OCD, it’s often considered a form of the disorder, possibly affecting as many as 42% of people with OCD. This aspect of the disorder is where people fear that if they get rid of things, they might need them later, or they might be doing something bad, such as adding to landfills.
These types of fears are some of the most painful for people with OCD. Typical obsessions showcased in this are due to intrusive, repetetive thoughts, according to Psychology Today’s article, “How Do Obsessive Compulsive People Think?” These thoughts can be tormenting. They often include curse words, violent images, and other unwanted thoughts. Those who suffer from them often feel like they’re in the wrong, when in reality, the thoughts aren’t their fault at all.
When I was little, I had an obsession with lightning. But it wasn’t just when storms surfaced. I thought about lightning on days without storms. I found books on the library about it. During storms, I’d lay on the floor in my bedroom, huddled in a ball, praying it wouldn’t hit me or my family.
As much as the thoughts filled my mind, however, they weren’t seen as intrusive. I actually enjoyed learning about lightning. It seemed like if I understood it better, it would be less likely to hurt me because I’d know what was going on. The obsession that I had with lightning went way beyond what was normal, but it wasn’t undesired. I needed the knowledge.
According to OCD UK, ruminating is, “a train of prolonged thinking about a question or theme that is undirected and unproductive.” While these thoughts are repetative, they’re not necessarily unwanted. Examples of rumnation, as given by Psych Central’s article, “Why Ruminating is Unhealthy and How to Stop,” are these: Continually
- replaying an argument with a friend in your head
- examining past mistakes
- focusing on work problems
- focusing on relationship problems