ARC Blog

Offering a Hand Despite OCD Fears

My name is Scott Shirey and I suffer from severe Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

I am deathly afraid of bodily waste and bodily fluids and have lived with OCD for almost 25 years. I have a fear of contamination that prevents me from living a normal life. Due to this fear, I live with a lot of rules when I am home. There are probably a million of them.

But before we talk about some of those, allow me to explain briefly how I see contaminants spread throughout the world. Let’s pick a bodily fluid at random. We will go with blood. Let’s say someone spills blood on a chair and doesn’t clean it up. It just sits there on the chair. We will even say the blood dries up.  Now let’s say someone sits on the chair with the dried blood.  Then that person gets up and sits on a new chair. According to my way of thinking, the new chair now has blood on it. It has blood on it whether you can see it or smell it or not. Let’s say someone new sits on that new chair with the second-hand blood on it. Now that new person has blood on them and according to my OCD everywhere they sit or bump will now have blood on it too.

This contamination can spread like wild fire as you can see and that makes it hard for me to think ANYTHING is clean. With all the random fluids or waste throughout the world, everything someone encounters in the world is dirty. When I am at home, I try with everything I have to keep any of the outside world dirtiness out of my home. That’s where the rules come in. They keep me safe and keep my house clean and safe. My home is my fortress of solitude. I have very few people ever in my house. There are probably about 8 people that have been in my house in the last 13 years. Long story short, I rarely have visitors and when they are here they don’t stay long that’s for sure. This week I was presented with a challenge. Some might call it an opportunity but I prefer to use the word challenge. Wait till you hear this.

I really felt like it was now or never. I had to do something. I had to do something or my friends were going to be in trouble and they were going to have to leave my town as I watch and do nothing. That’s not who Scott Shirey is, not now, not ever.

One of my best friends and his girlfriend were living in Portland Oregon for the last few years.  The cost of living, among other things, caused them to leave Portland.  The plan was to explore some new places and decide from there where to live permanently.  After being on the road for a few weeks and staying at camp sites across the US, they made their way to Grand Rapids. For whatever reason, this city was one of their finalists as far as places to live.  Their plan was to stay at a camp site near the city and see how they liked the city.  When they made it here they began to see that camping here is more expensive than other places had been and were already short on money. My friend called me and told me that they would not be staying here and were going to have to figure something else out as far as the future. To be honest, they were both at wits’ end and really did not know what they were going to do. I invited them to meet me for dinner so we could talk about it.

Now I know what you are thinking.  Why don’t I offer them a place to stay with me? Well, it’s simply not that simple. My OCD is a major issue and really makes it impossible for me to live with anyone.  I had never planned on ever having anyone stay with me because the rules I have within my home are tough to follow and it’s too much to expect anyone else to follow them. The mere thought of anyone staying with me for a long period of time was unthinkable.  My good friend knows very well what I deal with and said he refused to even ask me for that favor. He saw it as not being an option despite how close we were.  My friends were going to leave and had no idea what they were going to do. Relying on family is not an option for either of them and I really felt like it was now or never. I had to do something. I had to do something or my friends were going to be in trouble and they were going to have to leave my town as I watch and selfishly do nothing. That’s not who Scott Shirey is, not now, not ever.

I decided to offer them a place to stay with me along with a few conditions. I told them that it would be hard for me to have visitors. Knowing me and my OCD like they do, made them initially doubt it could work. We had a long talk and came up with a few parameters that they were ok with. This was not a permanent situation and the end goal would be to get jobs and earn enough to support getting their own place. This would take time, however. They would have their own room that they could have free reign over aka no rules. They would never wear shoes in the house. They would wash their hands whenever dealing with trash or toilets. They would have their own half of the kitchen and their own places to eat at the dinner table. As long as they could avoid touching any of my personal stuff and sitting on a couple chairs in my home, I could handle it. They could have their own couch in the living room and their own toilet. So they agreed to give it a shot. I told them I would show them respect and I would tell them if things became too much for me. They agreed to leave if it got to that point. I was scared as hell but I had to at least try to help my friends. I have a big house and I had to try. This is probably one of the hardest things I have ever had to do but I’m about to do it. Let’s see how this goes….

If reading this interested you, please read my book Danger Life when it comes out.  I will also be launching a blog soon which I will share with The ARC so people can read how this whole thing with my friends is going.

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