I am worrying about going to my cousinís for a holiday. She has invited me to stay with her, and tried to ring me a few days ago to talk about it. We haven't spoken to each other for a few years, but have kept in touch by letter.
The thing is, my OCD is having an effect on when I go to see her. I have got myself into a situation where I feel I have to go to my sister's twice before I go to my cousin's (the reason for this is not, I think, important here). I have visited my sister once, so to visit her once more is not a very big hurdle to overcome. I should explain that I am in a wheelchair and for me it is not a case of jumping into a car and driving over there. I have put off accepting my cousin's invitation because of the need to visit my sister twice.
It is nearly 2 years since my cousin invited me, and so the pressure had been mounting on me to respond. At Christmas I could forestall myself no longer, and, knowing I still have to visit my sister once more, I wrote a letter to my cousin in which I said it would be great to come and stay with her, but it may have to be "sometime in the not too distant future", thinking she would reply with a letter.
However, she found and rang my number, and left a message with someone asking me to ring her back. But because I have not yet completed the sequence of visiting my sister twice, I felt too anxious to speak to her, as I thought I would need to talk about my OCD and how it is affecting when I go to stay with her. I told her I have OCD when she visited me 7 years ago, and she was very understanding, but I havenít written about it since, so I didnít know if she still thinks of me as having the illness.
I decided the best thing to do was to tell her that my OCD was affecting my thoughts about when to come to stay, in an e-mail. I didnít tell her about the issue I have around my sister. In fact I was rather vague; but I conveyed the main gist of the matter, that I am unsure of when Iíd be able to visit, adding that I didnít want to forestall things for any longer than I could help. She responded by the same means and was very reassuring, and we eventually spoke on the phone. But although we have spoken I am still worried.
The difficulty I have is that, while I would not have been perturbed about talking about my OCD in general conversation, this situation has brought it into sharp focus from the outset. It has made me feel very self-conscious about it. Iím feeling as though I have put a big badge on my lapel saying, ďlook, I have OCDĒ. I am afraid I have made it difficult for me to relax and be myself in her and her familyís company. I had been looking forward to going somewhere where - among other things - I could talk freely about and share my problems. It should have been a liberating experience, as I find my two cousins - she has a sister who will also be there - easy to talk too, whereas I donít find it so easy to talk to my immediate family. Even on the phone I wasnít relaxed and in touch with my feelings when she was asking me how Iíd been.
She and her husband are both intelligent, professional people, and she has said my illness doesnít bother her, but I canít shake off the fear that I will feel awkward when I get there - as though I have put myself in a crate stamped ĎSpecial Delivery - 1 OCD patientí.
Has anyone else experienced these feelings, or been in a similar situation?