6 or so months ago maybe a month less I walked into a med provider’s office to get new meds. I knew the intake process would take awhile. It was questions about my life and family and who has mental health issues and such. This process took 2 hour and a half meetings in 2 weeks. At the end I walked away with 4 new (newly diagnosed) diagnoses and two new meds. One I knew I already struggled with was OCD. I was never diagnosed but everyone knew it was there. This is the story of how that became and how I fight it.
Excessive thoughts (obsessions) that lead to repetitive behaviors (compulsions). Overbearing thoughts that lead into hurtful interrupting annoying compulsions. Only 2% of the world’s population are diagnosed with this mind altering disorder. This is in the best way to describe how my OCD is hurtful for my brain and my loved ones who have to witness it.
I’m not quite sure when it happened but a friend of mine would put uneven amounts of dots under or next to her eye to try to ridden of the thoughts and fight over them. I always knew that she was wrong and that it should always be in pairs of twos. That’s just how it works. Later on in time I would cringe if my food was touching and if I didn’t have an even amount of a certain food. I would eat bowls of chips or popcorn and pre organize and count the order I wanted to eat them in. At first it was just an easy way to feel calm. At the time doing it once was ok so I wasn’t yet dealing with the fuck I messed that up i have to restart thoughts. My brain was calm as long as it was even and organized.
In high school I would tap the top of door ways or else “It will fall on me on the way back.” My lockers were always even numbers so “my stuff wouldn’t be stolen or uneven like the number.” Then it turned into hug and touch and make pinky promises with you friends in pairs of two. Hug her but squeeze twice. Make a pink promise with both hands and redo that 4 times without letting go. Make sure that the pressure on your body is even all over if not start over or do math. The math consisted of (and still does) 8 times 2 is 16 16 times 2 is 32 32 times 2 is 64 64 divided by 2 is 32 32 divided by 2 is 16 16 divided by 2 is 8. That is a simple way to calm me down if my anxiety is only a 2 or 4 out of 10. Other days I would waste notebooks and plain paper to count how many seconds minutes and hours where in 8 16 32 and 64 years months and days. When people would see they wanted to know how old they were in days weeks months, seconds hours and minutes. This was another calming activity that took more time but I love it. Spending I would say 40% of my days (on a good day) counting or touching things twice has just become the norm. It’s my bad days that worry me.
A bad day may consist of intrusive thoughts like “touch the hot pan twice or your mom dies, turn the steering wheel on the highway if not everything will be bad.” Or not doing things in sets of 2 rather in sets of 8 or 16. I have yet to (knock on wood) get to the point of doing shit 32 or 64 times. When talking words just repeat in my head and I have to repeat them. Nothing bad will happen if I don’t I will just be anxious and feel uneven. The fear of being uneven destroys me. I don’t like thinking that my body isn’t being loved or getting sensory input evenly. I can’t pin point that. Having a schedule and plan for each day keeps me calm but isn’t needed. When I watch videos I check the time every few seconds to see it get to 8 26 and 32 or every even number if I’m not interested. The radio and TV, my phone or tablet HAVE to be on an equal number volume. I don’t get my obsession with even numbers all I know is that without them I feel like half of me is in pain while the other is numb and safe.
I take meds to help to some extent and the rest is on me. I’m learning each day from peers how to handle and deal with the thoughts and compulsions. It’s not easy or fun. Being An OC isn’t cool or the new “thing.” I promise you cleaning that stain on your rug does not mean you are “so OCD.” It’s not used to describe a task or chore. It’s a serious painful mental disorder that is mostly invisible to the naked eye. It’s hours and days worrying about if you really did say or do something right or if you were touched right or cleaned it right. It’s worrying about your parents and loved ones because your brain threatens to hurt them if you don’t do something to stop it. It’s the pain,agony and joy of completing something to perfection. It’s my life along with the other 3.3 (what a nasty number) MILLION sufferers.
I want you to take a few things away from today. Don’t judge someone if they seem to be repeating a task over and over. Don’t mock us or judge us. Ask if you can help and if not just bare with us. We are doing our best and have no plans on hurting you. We love you and are getting better for you and us. Hold on it will end and we want you there for it. Never ever give up on yourself or anyone with OCD.
Much love ya’ll