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Concerned about compulsive behavior
Aug 28, 2011

Ok I know this sounds weird and I know it is. Because of my bout with meningitis I became compulsive. I would spend 3-4 hours a day just vacuuming and when the vacuum didn't work I'd sweep the carpet for 2 hours going round and round the same spot till I was exhausted. Then I sat down. Now my brain is hardwired to sweep the carpet all day. I worked 30 years and ended up on disability. It's so ironic that 10 years ago I was getting ready to graduate my 4 year electrical apprenticeship program in San Diego and since getting sick in 2005 I have been reduced to a carpet sweeping moron. I really wonder how I got in this mess. Help me with advice.

Response from Dr. Fawcett

Such repetitive behavior is typical of obsessive compulsive disorder, an anxiety disorder that can have both psychological and biological causes. Interestingly, research is starting to put together some links between certain infections such as meningitis, autoimmune disorders, and OCD. It can be treated effectively with a combination of certain medications (typically SSRIs - a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) and behavioral therapy. You should speak with your physician about a referral to get you some help for the compulsive behavior.

I would also recommend finding a therapist with whom you can speak about the losses that HIV has brought to your life, particularly in terms of occupation. Losing a skilled profession and the identity it carries can affect self image and self esteem. Feelings of loss are normal and need to be processed so that you can devote your energy to your health.

Take care, David



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