Kapil’s wife, Sunita, was tired of seeing her husband repeatedly switch on and off his vehicle for several minutes before leaving for work, go through some elaborate rituals before sleep and constantly check things around the house. She heard from a friend that there was a psychiatrist who practiced very close to where they lived. Kapil went with his wife to the clinic on her insistence.
Sunita told the doctor that ever since she had been married to him, her husband would do several strange things repeatedly before going to bed. He would tap the floor with his fingers, get into bed, then get back out of bed and start tapping the floor again, sometimes for two to three hours at a stretch. What bothered her and made her bring him to the doctor was that his morning activity (starting and stopping the car several times) before leaving for work was constantly getting him late to work. She was afraid he would lose his job. Since she was not working and they had two young kids, she was worried about the financial consequences of her husband losing his job.
The psychiatrist heard her concerns, and then asked Kapil to explain what he thought was going on. Kapil appeared embarrassed but agreed to talk. He told the doctor that if he didn't do some of these things, his anxiety would become unbearable. At such times, he would begin to fear that something bad would happen at home if he did not carry out the rituals or missed any of the steps in the rituals. Although he was aware that his repetitive actions for long hours at a time did not make sense, the anxiety always prevailed.
Over the next half hour, Kapil described the different repetitive things he did from the time he woke up to the time he slept. He was aware that it was interfering with his life in many ways but he felt helpless and could not stop this behavior.
The doctor diagnosed Kapil’s condition as obsessive-compulsive disorder
(OCD) and explained to the couple about OCD in detail. He reassured them that many people in society suffered from OCD and there was treatment for it.
Kapil has been on medications and therapy for several months. Sunita says he is 80 percent better than before and Kapil agrees with her. He admits he sometimes has a strong urge to go through his rituals but is able to control and finally ignore those urges. He is doing well at work and is not concerned about losing his job over his illness.
This narrative has been created with the help of mental health experts by taking into consideration symptoms and accounts from a cross-section of patients. The story is not a case study of any one particular person but is meant to be representative of a person suffering from the disorder mentioned.