The Obsessive Monster in me

January 7, 2011
“Not again,” I thought as I felt that familiar feeling of dread creep over me once again. I frantically searched for my friends in the sea of people, but the longer I looked for them the more my anxiety mounted. My heart was pounding and my mind racing, I had no time to think logically, I just knew I had to get out of here quickly before anyone realized I had gone.
I was at the corner of 6th street and Guadalupe. I was desperately trying to reach the safety of my house, which was over a mile away. I knew I never should’ve tried to leave the comfort of my home to go to a party with my friends, Sara, Gabi, and Megan. It was such a stupid idea. I just can’t believe that they left me alone at the party; they knew I had problems with being left alone ever since my last family vacation in Puerto Arietta, many years ago.
It all happened when I was eight years old and my family and I were staying at my great-aunt, Anna-Lisa’s house. It was our last day in Puerto Arietta and I convinced my parents to let me stay home alone and sleep in while they went on a tour of the museum of natural history downtown. While I slept in the master bedroom, I woke with a start, when I heard a crash in the living room. It sounded like a window being smashed into little tiny pieces. I jumped out of bed and cautiously peered out of the room and down the stairs leading to the living room. By the front door I saw a man with dark wavy hair and he was rummaging through our family scrapbooks and just throwing them aside like they were meaningless. It terrified me that someone could so easily ransack someone’s home. It suddenly made me feel vulnerable seeing all my belongings, being violated. I quickly turned away, the floorboards creaked. My body was suddenly filled, top to bottom, with fear; He had heard me, when I turned my head to see his expression, my heart stopped.
The look etched upon his face startled me. A big toothy smile played across his lips, a creepy, eerie grin that sent chills down my spine. All of a sudden I saw his body jerk forward. I ran, knowing he would soon be coming after me. In the middle of locking my bedroom door I heard his low chuckle fade into the hallway towards the kitchen.
A sigh of relief escaped from my mouth, “He’s gone”, I thought. My heart was starting to return to its normal pace until I heard the jumble of our cooking appliances, “Mom?” I called out, hoping my parents had come early. Not knowing how to react, I slowly opened the door. That’s when I saw him coming down the hallway cradling a butcher knife in his left hand. Before I could react my whole body tensed up; and that’s when he struck me. That was the last thing I remember before waking up in the hospital, before my life changed, before the constant fear of being alone had become part of me.
Victims, like me and my family, will always feel that they are cloaked with a heavy cloud of fear and dread for the rest of our life and will never truly feel safe ever again… it never occurs to them that they are doing more than damaging belongings, they are destroying livelihoods, disrupting a place called home, and most importantly making people lose their sense of safety.
Once I shook those thoughts away I reached my home and let out a sigh of relief. As I plopped down on the couch, I heard my familiar ringtone, Dinosaur by Ke$ha, blast from my purse. I was unsure if I should rush to pick up my phone or just let it go to voicemail. I figured it was my friends I ditched at the party an hour earlier.
Later I became aware that I had a new voicemail when my phone kept chiming and chiming. Sure enough, I was right, it was my friends. They were calling from the party, asking where I was and why I had left so suddenly without telling anybody. I persuaded myself to call them back and I made up some crappy story that I had gotten an upset stomach, while at the party, and I had to come home and relax. They seemed to buy my story because they told me to take some Pepto-Bismol, take a nap, and call them in the morning to tell them how I was feeling.
I closed my phone, shut my eyes tight, and reevaluated what I had just done at the party. I ditched my friends; I left my friends for no apparent reason… I don’t know what came over me... I had felt like this tidal wave of fear just crashed over me and I had nowhere to escape. I had been perfectly fine five minutes earlier, but something just hit me.
My friends probably think I’m a total freak by now. In my apartment everything is organized alphabetically, by size, and color; I constantly tap on the walls... Some people may call me a neat freak but I think it’s something worse, I call myself a creature of habit because I feel like if I don’t do my daily safety rituals then something bad may happen like it did at Great-Aunt Anna-Lisa’s house. I decided to grab my neon orange mini laptop with black racing strips running along the sides of it, which was sitting on my kitchen counter, and look up disorders.
While the page was loading I closed the laptop, deciding that there was nothing seriously wrong with me so there is nothing to worry about. I put my laptop away and thought that maybe taking a nap would help calm my frayed nerves.
Two months later I had another anxiety attack when I was at Randal’s with my best friend Dani. We were in the check-out line and I reached into my purse to grab my wallet to pay for a Twix bar. When my hand came back empty I searched thoroughly and thought that maybe somebody had taken it while I wasn’t looking. With that thought I was sent back in a flashback to when I was eight once again and I had seen that man take my belongings, throw them across the floor, and glare up at me with that eerie grin. I screamed as he began to chase me up the stairs just as he had done 20 years ago.
I was brought back to reality when my friend Dani shook my arm. I was back in the store and was at the checking-out desk. Everybody was staring at me with huge eyes of shock. With that my first instinct was to run out of the store, so I did. Dani gave the cashier two dollars, grabbed the Twix bar, and chased me out of the store.

Dani chased me through the parking lot and caught me by the arm as I passed her parked sky blue Mini Cooper. I had planned to run all the way home, it wouldn’t have taken me long I lived no farther than a mile away from the store and I had done it before. When Dani caught me tears were streaming down my rosy cheeks. “What happened back there?” Dani asked. “Why were you screaming? Are you okay? Tell me what’s wrong.” I was unsure how to answer her questions, so I just shrugged my shoulders. “I can’t help you if you don’t tell me how to help you.” With that, I poured my heart out to her. I told her everything about great-aunt Anna-Lisa, my rituals, the constant flashbacks I keep having… everything. Dani hugged me, held me tight and let me cry on her shoulder.
The next day, Dani came over to my cramped apartment with some news… She told me that one of her close friends is a therapist and that Dr. Ann Hendrix had agreed to try and help me overcome my irrational fears. I wasn’t sure how to respond when Dani told me that she had just set me up with a “crazy person” therapist. I mean, I know I have some problems, but I am defiantly not crazy! I know that for a fact. Instead of being totally rude and blowing her off, I decided to try out this so-called “excellent” therapist.
I hate it! I just truly hate it! All Dr. Hendrix keeps asking me are stupid questions, like, “Why do you think this is happening to you?” and “What would you like to learn from this experience?” I’m tired of just being another statistic. I wish she would treat me like any other normal human being, but she doesn’t. Instead, she treats me like I’m a crazy person who is not capable of thinking f0r herself. After a few sessions with Dr. Hendrix I began to realize that she really did want to help me with my fears.
After a never ending day of therapy, I learned that my O.C.D. will never go away. I was shocked by what I had heard; I thought that maybe Dr. Hendrix could prescribe me a chill pill or something that would prevent me from constantly freaking out. I thought it would be as easy as when you are depressed and you can take an anti-depressant or a “happy pill” and you would be okay; but I guess this isn’t the case. Dr. Hendrix said the only way to rid myself of this mental disorder would to “desensitize” myself from the things that frighten me. In my case, that means working on my fears of being alone. I also learned that teens and children aren’t affected by O.C.D. only adults are. Usually adults are haunted by something that happened in their childhood which in turn triggers their O.C.D. Like me many adults with O.C.D don’t have treatment until many years later, and about 2.2 million American adults are affected by O.C.D each year.
After six-weeks of intensive therapy, Dr. Hendrix and I had our first major exposure. Dr. Hendrix took me to an old insane asylum that had recently been transformed into a museum. She took me straight to one of the padded rooms, which is where they restrained mental patients that were out of control. We walked into the quiet white cell and a single rusty metal chair was sitting in the center of the room. “Did you know that patients were locked up in this very room for hours on end?” Dr. Hendrix asked me as we approached the cold unwelcoming chair. I shook my head. I began to feel that chill of fear climb up my spine and I knew it wouldn’t be long before I would be fully consumed by fear once again. “How would you feel if I closed the door to this room?” She asked me. As my mouth grew parched and my throat began to constrict, all I could do was nod in reply. She instructed me to sit in the rusty metal chair and give her a number 1-10 on how high my anxiety was. I did as she asked, and as soon as I sat in the chair I pictured myself once again alone in my Aunt’s house, terrified, and watching the intruder run towards me with the butcher knife. With that I felt my body break down into tremors. As Dr. Hendrix asked me how high my anxiety was, I croaked out 10 and asked if we could leave the room. She told me that she is going to make me sit with my anxiety until it comes back down to a 2 or 3 on my scale.
I had been running away from my fears for so long that I just sat in that cold hard metal chair and began to quietly sob. I hadn’t even realized that I was crying until I felt hot streams of tears begin to drip down my cheeks. After 20 minutes of sitting in the cell I had stopped crying and felt my anxiety start to drop. Dr. Hendrix asked me what my number of anxiety was I replied 3. “You have successfully completed your exposure.” She told me with a smile on her face. I stood up and gave Dr. Hendrix a big hug. “Thank you for all the help and support you have given me. I don’t know what I would have done without you,” I whispered in her ear.

After my 20 sessions of therapy I was able to control my fears. I am now able to attend parties with Sara, Gabi, and Megan again with no problems from my O.C.D even when I’m completely alone.

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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

mustang_chika1195 said...
Jan. 25, 2011 at 10:09 am
dduuddee!! absolutely ah-mazing!! i friggin love this story!!
Daninela said...
Jan. 17, 2011 at 4:26 pm
I helped you write this :). i feel proud :D
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