There’s a Light Out

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I take pride in my writing, and I use linguistic tools most writers use. So I think I do a fair job of that, and thus if you agree you most likely think the title of this article is a metaphor for something- possibly mental, psychological, or personal.

No, the title here refers to something literal. When a light goes out in any of the fixtures in my residence, my OCD is not only bothered by the obvious (a fixture with 5 lights should obviously have 5 lights working), but what you may not know is that is actually brings about a feeling of depression.

I’ve woken up in the morning and turned on the kitchen lights, and immediately something is wrong. And that something is not just tangible. The kitchen is depressing, and I really feel that depression in my mind. It is certainly slight- I’m not going to jump back in bed unwilling to face the world. But it is there, and the reason is obvious- I don’t even need to look at the light fixture to know the levels of light in the room are off by a fourth or a fifth1. A light has burned out.

In the physical world I’m presented with here- it is a simple fix. Or I hope! If I don’t have a light ready to replace the burned out one, I will walk to the store and buy a pack right that moment. But trust me, I have plenty waiting in my collection.

This may seem a like a little quirk, but focusing on the feeling of depression for what should be a slight alteration of environment is very important here, and speaks to something much greater than replacing light bulbs.

With OCD comes hyper-awareness of surroundings. Decreasing the light by a miniscule amount is a seriously depressing event. As is most other change to any environment. Because change is our Kryptonite. And change leads to an assortment of feelings, and is a major part of what I write about on this site.

Now let’s take that a step further, knowing that such a slight change can cause enough of an emotional and psychological reaction in our brains, you can now surmise where things like fear and control are often attributed to those with OCD, and how those things are intertwined.

At all points in the day, we’re ready for something slight to change the entire complexion of said day. Everyday. Seemingly arbitrary mood swings happen with us, but they are very often linked to small physical changes. And for you that is annoying, because you deal with it after the fact. To us with OCD, it is the fear of future slight events happening that keep us in a slow boil of anxiety.

Keep that in mind when dealing with us. You don’t have to change a thing, other than to be aware that our brains are dedicating some of their processing power- at all times- with the prospect of potential depression, anger, or however we will (admittedly irrationally) deal with disruptions similar to the aforementioned.

Or, just keep all the lights working. You can do that too.


1 I’ll leave it to those who know more about the science of light to tell me if there’s some logarithmic calculation to how much light is missing when one out of four or five lights is burned out.