I don’t think I can write enough about the obsessive end of the OCD spectrum1, as it manifests itself in such a multitude of ways—often long a drawn out, sometimes a pinpoint prick in time. It is all, though, of a brain that is stuck—on pause, or on repeat.
An aspect of OCD—and how it debilitates—is the element I’ll call “The One Thing.” I am often bothered, as my brain wishes to live a life of pure and absolute routine. I wish for the same things to happen, in the same way, at the same time, at every point in time in my life—be it time of day, time of week, and so forth. Life as a fractal is the optimum life. At least to my brain it is. This, of course, is impossible—living in the real world and interacting within the sea of randomness that is Life on Earth.
“Bothered” is fundamental here. It is generally of a constant state, but here we will focus on the singular state of such. It only takes One Thing to cause a tiny kink in the abovementioned repeating fractal that my brain—regardless of it knowing the truth of randomness—continues to foresee as what must happen over and over in life to stay within comfort. A tiny kink that, because my brain is on repeat, thus is amplified over and over.
What is this One Thing? It can be anything unexpected. A change in schedule, a person interacting with me when I am not in a social mindset, a red cloth bleeding in the wash into my white t-shirt. I could go on, there are countless examples. That countlessness, I am sure you can surmise, also being a key player here in OCD being a debilitating disorder.
When this One Thing happens, I am set off. I am in the fog of obsession and often anxiety. You see, my brain continues the repetition that makes it comfortable—like moving through a perfect grid of grids of grids, except for that one tiny kink in the otherwise straight lines that make up this infinite grid set.
I want it to go away. More, I need it to go away. And when in this fog of obsession, being proactive is a characteristic that has been blocked in my brain. I can only attempt to think it away. Just as people cannot actually bend spoons with their mind, this does not work. Though my brain—on its own—believes it can. It seeks the easiest way to return to the comfort of the metaphorical repeating fractal or repeating grid—the easiest way being just thinking it away.
This, again, is where my particular relationship with compulsions comes in. I will only act on my need for The One Thing to go away after I have spent such a long, gut-twisting time wishing it would go away on its own. Don’t get me wrong, if you notice me in this state, you will see a different me. I will be muttering, whispering, sometimes pacing. There will be a grunt or a few. My eyes will be focused akin to a madman’s2.
I am preparing for days and days of this thing to exist, ruining my whole existence during this time. And wow, is that a weight to confront as a potential future!
Here’s the nice thing, The One Thing usually goes away. Always quicker than I worry it will remain. Sometimes on its own. Sometimes by me making a complete fool of myself and getting others worked up about something that they very obviously consider of the utmost triviality3. But it goes away, as it was generally had no staying power anyway. It is, you see, never something like cancer or a friend’s death that is The One Thing. No, by its nature it cannot be something like that—those things are in a completely different category. Interestingly—to me, at least—a much easier category to handle. I am not a psychopath—I have been absolutely devastated by the death of friends, and I’ve known cancer second-hand and have a conscience that has empathy and sympathy for such things. However, as sick as you wish to view me, these things are much easier to handle.
It is most likely because these easier-to-handle things are at the macro level. Being at the macro level gives these items far less of a chance of getting stuck in a repeating and incremental pattern. That is to say—if I have one friend die, barring my country being under nuclear attack, most of my friends will not be dying at the same time.
But The One Thing—it is micro in its presentation. It is small. And thus, with my OCD, I do indeed fear its incremental repetition—its being part of my life forever. Ironically, the smaller the kink in my pattern of life is, the bigger of a deal it is to me. Because it is that which can get out of hand, get stuck on repeat, and—in my mind—take over my life. Now, while it does not ever take over my life (my white shirts, for example, don’t continue to come out pink every time I wash them)—my brain thinks they can and thus prepares for such. That is OCD. That preparation for The One Thing to take over forever.
To some there is getting an eyelash stuck under the lid of their eye. Ouch! To me, the pain and discomfort I feel getting an eyelash stuck under the lid of my eye will clearly and absolutely now be there for the rest of my life, and my quality of life has now just diminished until the day I die.
That is OCD.
1 It is almost as if I am obsessed with it. (Ok, stop it.) [BACK]
2 I am not a madman. [BACK]
3 And I do not deny that they are most likely right, if we’re considering that there is a normalcy to this world—which I believe there is, and I believe I am on the wrong side of. That debate is for another article, but that is where I stand on my disorder. [BACK]