Day 12 - something you are OCD about
I used to have literal OCD. It was not fun. I had to sit on a certain side of whatever car I was riding in (depending on the car; I would just know, from looking at it, which side I needed to sit on) and if I couldn't, I would have a panic attack, because I thought we were going to crash and die. Also, even numbers were "good" and odd numbers were... well, not bad exactly, but "less good." Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday were even days, so they were better than Monday or Wednesday or Friday, and less likely to have bad things happen on them. (There is no way I could explain to you what made those days even, it's just how it was.)
If I could stop the microwave countdown so that the number matched within one minute before or after the time on the clock, I would feel like I won a contest. Better yet was if I stopped it on the exact time. That made my day. If I got it wrong, however, I felt like a total failure. When I was anxious about something (like being a total failure) I would flex and press my pointer finger backward against my middle finger in an awkward and painful way, usually on both hands, and count to five over and over and over -- up to a hundred times.
There's more, but I've already scared myself a little, so I can't imagine what any of you must be thinking by now. I'm sane, really, I promise. I've had multiple assesments to prove it. Rest assured; I'm simply traumatized.
When I remember all the things I used to do, all the rules and the little contests I set for myself, I think it's really a miracle I ever achieved anything in school. With all the shit going down at home, all the ways I tried to distract myself from my scary thoughts throughout the day, how the hell did I get good grades? I was kind of amazing.
At the time, I needed to feel like I had some measure of control over something, anything in my life. But I don't do any of those things anymore. I realized as a teenager that it had gotten a little out of hand -- and made me too much like my mother. So I decided to put a stop to it.
I remember the first time I rode on the "wrong" side of a car. I did it on purpose; I let my friends walk in front of me, and then I took the leftover seat. My legs wobbled, and I almost couldn't open the door. I slid into the seat, my heart thumping loudly in my ears, my palms sweaty. I folded my hands tightly in my lap and stared out the window, pressing my forehead against the cold glass and telling myself: Probably you will not die. Probably you will not die. Probably you will not die...
I have no idea what everyone else talked about. I was stressed to the max, and didn't retain a word of conversation. But as you might have guessed, we made it safely to where we were going. I did not die.
Thus began the slow and often painful dissolution of my nervous habits and compulsions. And now I am, for the most part, free. Writing this out, I am truly impressed by what I was able to accomplish on my own, how much I was able to overcome, through sheer force of will. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is a very powerful thing. But I am more powerful, it turns out. That rocks!
Thanks, Day 12, for giving me a reason to remember my win.