My personal truth – OCD

I actually really like my obsessive compulsive disorder (crazy I know!). While my other disorders cause me to hate aspects of myself, my OCD gives me a sense of control. Logically speaking, the “control” I feel is from the compulsions that I need in order to control the obsessions. So one may argue that if I didn’t have OCD I wouldn’t need to feel this control. But I prefer not to use that kind of logic personally.

The truth is, my obsessions are these crazy anxiety cycles in my brain. I would have some form of these cycles anyway from my BPD, so I may as well feel some control over them. And on a totally separate note, has anyone else noticed the amount of acronyms in my type of crazy? I kind of just want to start saying that I suffer from acronyms, then people would have a totally new reason to look at me like I’m crazy, because I am crazy, because I have acronyms, so there!

Anyhoo, I should probably get back on topic and try to explain how I personally experience my OCD. For me it is all about balance. When I started kindergarten I remember a deep sense of anxiety about the school bus, more specifically about the balance of the school bus. I was certain that if too many kids sat on one side of the bus it would become unbalanced and tip over. This fear lasted me until High School, and then only stopped because I walked to school rather than taking the bus. I knew it wasn’t logical, I know no one else feared this, but still the fear never left.

My brain right now sees life as that school bus. Everything can become so easily unbalanced. And when it does, something terrible will happen. In some circumstances my brain does a snowball effect and I “predict” what terrible thing it will be, but more often I have no idea. The anxiety center of my brain just hits the panic button and says that things are unbalanced and MUST be fixed before it is too late.

Because of this, my compulsions revolve around balance. For example, anything that has a number scheme follows the numbers 0, 3, 5, 7, 10,…. that’s right, not even numbers like you expected. Our math system is 10 based (unless you are working in binary, but my car speakers are not in binary, sorry). The half way point of 10 is 5, so 5 is my balance point. Now put the numbers on a see-saw with 5 in the middle. You need to find the middle on each end to keep it balance, but most things don’t use decimals so 2.5/7.5 won’t work. Your options are 2/8 or 3/7. I like the number 3 better than 2, and being closer to 5 looked prettier on my imaginary see-saw, so my numbers follow that pattern. Following me? No? Yeah, neither does my husband which is why he looked at me like I was crazy when I had a panic attack once because he turned the radio to volume 14. I cringe just typing that sentence.

Some of my compulsions are invisible to others, such as my need to chew my food equally on each side of my mouth. Something you would only notice if I randomly offered you an individual smarty, the candy, you’ve had those yeah? In case you didn’t know, smarties come 15 to a roll and are near impossible to break exactly in half. So while they are an incredibly beautiful, perfectly balanced line to admire visually, they just can’t be eaten in a balanced way. So I either have to eat 2 rolls, or get rid of the 15th Smarty.

Some things are more visible, but most people don’t pay attention. For example my random short or long steps across a crosswalk so my feet have exact equal exposure to the white lines. I think the most annoying for me is accidentally brushing up against a wall or a piece of furniture while walking, it throws my whole body out of balance. So I have to find a way to brush my other side against an identical surface with the same amount of pressure. And if not done properly I will keep doing so on each side until they finally balance, which can be redundant, and weird.

My OCD is really only visible to others when my anxiety hits hard. When that happens I have to expand beyond my personal balance to the balance of everything around me. I will rearrange everything in the break-room to be more equidistant, or change entire excel templates at work because the layout was too heavy on one side.

In general, my OCD is mild and at times amusing. It can make walking a bit unusual, and give me panic attacks. But more often than not it just makes me feel more in control of the unknown consequences I so fear. So I’ll continue to appreciate it, and continue balancing everything on my imaginary see-saw so the bus won’t tip.