I am a person of ritual and habit. I like to do the same things at the same time, and I don’t take into account moderation when I go about the pace of my day. My OCD is a general discomfort always in my brain and often felt throughout my body. I am constantly going through the horrors that will befall me, and the actions I should have taken to mitigate these horrible eventualities. That is a lot of my life, so when I do find comfort I make it a ritual. I need to look forward to something that makes me feel good, that I know will happen every single day at the same time in the same manner.
This, in itself, is an obsession—but not really one I am looking to get over. At least not right now. I have plenty of other dragons to slay1 that keep my anxiety peaking.
I found a habit in eating peanuts just before I went to bed. I love peanuts. The whole exercise felt of the utmost comfort: I was in bed, the world was not presenting me with terrible things, I could deal with my general OCD stuff the next day. It was just me, a book, and peanuts. A lot of peanuts. I was eating about one pound of peanuts every day.
At the time I was very thin on money, and the peanuts were a fine investment—because they provided me with that rare ritualistic comfort that almost no other situation or person could take away.
A pound of peanuts a day is a lot of peanuts.
The downside to all of this is how I felt the next day. I did not feel physically bad at all, but I felt a tremendous fear that I was going to gain weight. Oh, the fear did not manifest itself in possibilities that were typical. I’m a very thin person, and I was not concerned about my looks. I’d given up the chance of finding a girlfriend at that point in my life because I was just a basket of anxiety and it showed. And I knew it showed, and I knew that was an immediate turn off when it came to the whole dating game or whatever all that is about. Certainly, no girls are out there looking for “an anxious guy who has a slight penchant for the obsessive.”
I didn’t care if I looked thicker.
What I was obsessed over were my clothes. Purchasing clothes for me is tremendously difficult. I need things to fit a very specific way, I need colors to be very specific, and I can’t have things like patterns or the like on what I wear. I buy inexpensive clothes, too—everything is too expensive at first. Then I work my brain down to accepting the price.
If I had to move from a 32 to a 34 with my shorts, for example, it would mean finding four new pairs of shorts that fit with my system. A specific green, a specific brown, black but with the right number of pockets. All in all, it would be a massive project. And expensive! Or at least the feeling of expensive—as I am one to have buyer’s remorse at a $7 t-shirt.
I could not gain weight. I bought a scale. Oh, and that was an adventure—because it wasn’t enough to pay attention and log the pounds I weighed every day. The tenths of pounds mattered. I analyzed trends in the 165-167 pound area, obviously seeing that tenths of pounds either way were a sure-fire path to 200, 250 pounds down the road.
I’d weighed 155 pounds my entire adult life (6′ 3″ if you care), gained 10 pounds through a truly horrible life situation, then stood steady around 165. 165.2. Or 165.4. Wishing now for 164.8!
I don’t even know if my scale was calibrated correctly, and it was a cheap scale to boot—so deep down the scientific me knew I was not getting that granular of a reading anyway. But the part of my brain where the OCD lives believed it like science and there is no talking that part of my brain down.
So I got to the point where I needed to cut back my eating, as the numbers were going slightly upward. Oh—and do note that an upward tick of 0.2 pounds would turn my whole day into an obsessive mess. I would want to rewind time and have no ability to do it. I would very seriously be looking for some way to physically rewind time and would come close to physically beating myself up for not being able to. That is part of OCD. Constant issues with what already happened, and the absolute need to not have them having happened. Hard to follow, I know.
So we all know what Bulimia is, as did I. I never quite thought much of it, as I never cared that much about my appearance and just pinned it to an obsession with that. Oh, I care about anyone with any mental disorder. Because I understand the root of pretty much all of them. That is what I go through. It just manifests itself differently.
I found through no discernable set of decisions that throwing up the peanuts immediately after I ate them made me feel good. They made me feel in control—of time! I could reverse any and all issues that may or may not come from eating too many peanuts. I was free!
I assumed this would protect me from having to purchase new clothes and go through that nightmare. I would wake up and feel like I accomplished something no one else could accomplish: imbibing in pure comfort with no consequences!
I would stay a 32 waist, but most importantly I would not obsess over the potential of what I may be doing to my body the next day. My time at the bus stop in the mornings was so much easier on the mind. Oh, not easy—I had plenty else to obsess over. Plenty. But this one was gone, and I could even feel that weight off the bevy of things OCD would be throwing my way to obsess over. And it felt good. More importantly, it felt right—Because of the control.
After a few weeks of this, I realized I was trading one disorder for another. Can one be temporary bulimic? I don’t know. I never looked too deeply into it. I am riddled with addictions. I take them on and then kick them. Some of them are probably in the
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. I just know I can get addicted to most anything and I need to mentally work to not be. And in this situation, I quickly did. I was already an anxious mess, so just removing the peanut eating altogether was simple enough. Simple in that there wasn’t much more room for more anxiety.
I didn’t solve much. I don’t know if I would have harmed myself or been better off—to be perfectly honest—if I kept up the binging and purging. It just worked as a quick fix for the time being and felt like the right thing to stop doing.
Please don’t get me wrong: people with what I will call actual Bulimia are in a far worse place than I am with that specific condition. I hesitate to even use the term Bulimia for what I was doing, as I understand when people misuse “OCD” for things that are far thinner in effect than what I go through.
But this is a thing that happened. And it was tied directly to the conditions that make up my own personal OCD.
That was me. For weeks. I continued on without the Bulimia. But for certain, still with the OCD.
1 A metaphor I hate, but let’s go with it. [BACK]