After being diagnosed with squamous cell skin cancer, the dermatologist advised that I have a skin check every six months. At first this sounded wonderful! I thought it would make me feel safe, and because my doctor mandated it, I didn't have to feel the tension of deciding whether or not to go to the doctor.
But OCD had other ideas. I did ok for the first few months and but by the last few weeks, I would be on hyperalert, noticing variation in color or texture on my skin, and in the tug of war about what to point out to my dermatologist. I'd be sitting there in a paper gown, obsessing my brains out, full of pressing dread. My doctor would walk in looking like an astronaut with her special magnifying goggles, and my OCD would go on the loose:
What if she misses something? The nurse told me to leave my underwear on, what if something dangerous is hidden? Should I ask her about the tiny bumps on my hands after a shower? Am I crazy? If I don't ask I will be swamped with anxiety. If I do ask, I will be humiliated, and the reassurance won't last two minutes, and I'll find a new symptom. I must be a bad person to be struggling with this. She's wear magnifying lenses for godsake, how could she miss something? But how do I know she actually saw everything? Why isn't she worried about the underwear? Oh, god, I'm worrying about underwear. I'm a mess.I felt cursed that my desire to be watched over and taken care of turned into an ever deeper pit of obsessing. As I've been seeing Leonard for ERP therapy, I have learned to have more compassion for myself and how hard it is to actually have something physically wrong related to an old obsession. I've learned that I'm not a bad person for having OCD. I've learned that I can cope with having skin cancer, and that the OCD was more painful than the surgery.
Skin Cancer Anxiety