Wednesday, August 4, 2010

House Key, Truck Key, Firebird Key

I love to watch the television show "Obsessed". It spotlights people suffering from various types of OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder). But sometimes when I watch shows like that it makes me wonder "Do I know people like this? Are they out there interacting with me every day?". Well, they are. On two occasions recently, I've had customers come in to the office exhibiting these types of behaviors. In the past I would have probably just thought they were crazy, but after learning more about OCD and how many people are affected by it, I know these people are suffering inside their own minds.

The first happened a few weeks ago when a lady came in to get some books and maps from us. When she first walked in to the store she sat her purse down and looked at her keys. Before she even told us what she needed, she mumbled under her breath "House key, truck key, Firebird key". I asked how I might assist her, and while I was filling her request she said it again, very softly, "House key, truck key, Firebird key". It only took me a moment to complete her order. I thanked her and she gathered her things. But before she left, she said it one more time, "House key, truck key, Firebird key". I know this poor woman was tortured by the thought that she may misplace one of those keys. She needed constant confirmation that she had them all with her. I had to wonder how many times in a day the poor thing had to reassure herself.

Then yesterday an older couple came in and asked for some assistance. At first they seemed quite normal, like every other senior couple we help. But when they got seated at the desk with a counselor, the woman kept saying to her husband, "Bob, I'm scared". The first couple of times she said it, he didn't respond. After about the third time, my employee said "Are you scared of going on this trip?". The lady replied "no". In a moment she said it again, "Bob, I'm scared". Finally, Bob said "It's okay to be scared sometimes. Everything is okay". That seemed to satisfy her, plus the counselor had completed their request, so they left.

There are people out there among us with all sorts of mental disorders. They may not be so visible on the surface, but many people are tortured with compulsions and fears. I'm glad shows like "Obsessed" are able to show the rest of us what's going on in these people's minds. Maybe it will help us understand them a little bit more, and help us to be more compassionate.

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