Welcome to the fun house. Don’t get too excited, it’s really more like an abattoir. Sometimes it can feel like being locked in a hall of mirrors with an axe wielding clown. If life is a series of theme parks, you may want to skip OCD World.
So what does having OCD feel like? For me it’s not about washing my hands a hundred times a day or worrying that the back door is locked whenever I leave the house. Although, for some sufferers, it might be. There is a lot of stigma towards OCD, I’m forever hearing people misinterpreting the disorder and the issues that walk beside it. I may be contributing to this stigma myself, but everything here is written from personal experience, and if the truth hurts, well, it’s still the truth. This is my castle, in my world, and the dragons in the sky are my own demons.
I invite you into my home. And yes, you can leave your shoes on.
…I’m sitting in the lounge with friends. The conversation is free and easy, nothing profound, just lads watching television, talking about football, plans for the weekend, a brief discussion about a U.F.O somebody said they spotted hovering in the night sky almost twenty years ago. My focus however, is elsewhere, eyes fixed and glaring at the far wall – it’s been decorated with a rich brown paint but I’m desperately trying to imagine that it’s actually a brilliant white. It’s proving to be an almost impossible task. Closing my eyes now, concentrating on not just white but the hottest, purest white imaginable – light from an atomic explosion, the heart of God. Try it now, it’s not so easy – all I could see was the back of my eyelids. My friends stay for three hours. A weight pulsates in my skull, heavy like a bag of sand – fear swelling in my mind. “Look at the wall and imagine it white, or your family will die,” says a voice I don’t hear but feel in my bones.
…My girlfriend and I are drinking beer with friends watching the sunset over the Karoo, South Africa. Fantastic colours splash across the sky as the sun sinks slowly into the horizon. We laugh, we talk, celebrating the end of another long day working for our African host. It sounds hollow to me – other thoughts, less fun, are resonating in my mind. I’m obsessing again, concentrating on a single event from a thousand miles away – shadows from another lifetime. A smile dominates my face but inside I’m crying, frustrated at the intrusion of such a stupid concept expanding like a mini universe. Holding down a conversation with the German couple next to me but screaming in my head, “F*******k!!!!”
…Knives glisten on the kitchen worktop – I picture myself grabbing the plastic handle and stabbing the blade into my best friend’s neck. Watch his eyes bulge in disbelief, horror distorting those familiar features, crying as he dies. Just a second away, I’ve literally got the power in my trembling hands. A swift movement and a gentle push, I can stick it into anything. Need to make the fear dissipate. Luckily, there are things I can do to push it away. I become a cleric burning candles on the floor. Ritualise and ritualise again. Step away from the knife, Yan.
…Unwrapping Christmas presents now. People looking at my face for a reaction to the gifts they’ve bought. Got to put on a show, don’t want to disappoint. What if I throw the box at the wall and tell them how fat they all are? Odd this one, because not a single person in the room is overweight. “But they’ll think they are if you tell them!” Biting my lip and shaking inside I smile and say thank you. Get me out of this room!
…Feeling happy. But not for long. Apparently my girlfriend is f**king everyone in the entire town. Of course, she isn’t, but OCD doesn’t concern itself with facts – performing mental rituals will make the doubt fade away, but nothing else, certainly not the truth. Distrust spreads like a virus, sickness in my belly like I’ve swallowed bleach. Maybe I should swallow bleach? There’s a bottle under the sink. How easy it would be to unscrew the cap and chug it down like cola from the fridge. Maybe run into the lounge and die in front of my partner. That’ll teach her for f**king everyone she looks at. Or, should that be, that’ll teach her for fucking everyone that I look at?
…Glaring at my face in the mirror. Searching for signs of dying while cursing my reflection. Something moves in my gut – I feel nauseous again. Could it be Cancer? Was that abrasion there last week? Last year? Lights flashing, sirens in my mind, a head of snakes hissing over my shoulder. Meet those flashing red eyes and turn to stone.
…Do I want to go for a drink in town? Do I Hell. Too busy trying to pick myself up off the couch. Feeling guilty wasting away in front of the TV – volume down so I can concentrate on all the bulls**t buzzing around my brain like flies feasting on a pig’s corpse. Promise myself I’ll try harder tomorrow. It’ll be different in the morning – but of course it never is.
“This time it’s the real deal,” whispers Crow, creating bizarre shadows on the wall.
I ball my hands into fists. “I’m NOT ritualising today. No rumination. No blinding white light behind my eyes.” My head feels heavy at the prospect, a hot flush prickling through my body.
“Then you’ll carry that weight in your head all day!”
…Got to keep these intrusive thoughts at bay. Fantasising I have razor teeth, I imagine eating my own legs – gruesome concepts harming myself so that I don’t obsess on what I could potentially do to those around me. Surrounded by imaginary trees I howl at an illusory moon, hypnotised and drooling, two fangs now, Nosferatu climbing the stairs. Keeping reason in a box I waste my night desperately chewing on intrusive thoughts, an explosion in my head like hydrogen bombs colliding. No time to read, converse, or even play a round of cards. Just lay on my bed and wait for sleep to whisk me away. Thoughts pounding – upsetting, unrelenting, a continuous river of useless information. Some of it, probably true, the rest, a ball of lies spinning in my brain, collecting more untruths, growing like a snowball rolling down a hill.
Go anywhere, just not here. Do anything, just not that. Be anyone, just not me.
You’ll have to go now, all this reminiscing has given me more things to think about.
And it’s harder to concentrate when you’re around…