A Beginners Guide to OCD

July 7, 2009
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So you want to know what it’s like to have OCD. You wonder what causes someone to constantly have bizarre desires of straightening pencils, straightening picture frames, and turning on and off light switches several times before they are “fully off.” You’re wondering why someone might like exactly two tablespoons of Jiff Peanut Butter on their PB&J sandwich, why fully pushed in drawers are such a high priority, or why in the world Mr. Monk would want a closet full of identical tweed suits. Does he just have extremely bad taste? Well, my friend, I’m here to answer your questions. I’m the proverbial genie, ready to grant your wish to feel what it’s like being a perfectionist. Just follow the experiment below, and soon you will find out that it’s not just bad fashion taste that causes Mr. Monk to be so odd.

For this experiment, you will need:
1) Five bottles of caffeinated Mountain Dew

2) A Klondike Bar

3) One 250-pound weight-lifter

Find a space about ten yards in length. Place the Klondike Bar at one end, yourself (with the five sodas) at the other, and Mr. Muscle in the middle. Now, swig the five Mountain Dews. That’s right, all five- all 264 grams of sugar and 354 milligrams of caffeine, a whirlwind of lemon-limey bliss. Don’t even stop to breathe. Well, maybe stop if you get lightheaded, or if you think your body’s going into cardiac arrest from raised insulin levels. But besides those two instances, just keep on chugging. Then, when you’re done, wait.

These five Mountain Dews represent the feeling of energy behind an OCD-er’s drive. Not the obsession itself, remember, but the overwhelming urge to do the obsession- the suppressed, gigantic surge of uncontrolled energy, so like a ticking bomb seconds away from explosion. This sugar-rushed heck is the feeling of drive from a person with OCD. As for where all this energy is directed to, that’s where our Klondike comes in.

Ah, Klondike. This is no ordinary ice-cream treat on sale at Wal-Mart. This is chocolate, this is sweetness, this is a slab of freezer-cooled heaven with droplets of desire condensating on its crinkly, glinting wrapper. Make it any flavor you like- Oreo, Reeses, maybe even just the Original, if you swing that way. Just make sure you want it. You need it. You have to have it! But, as you lunge, tongue fully out and drooling, in preparation for that first nibble, our 250-pound guy steps into view.

He’s huge. He’s muscular. He’s like a cross between Eli Manning and an Orc freshly escaped from the set of The Lord of the Rings. And he’s guarding our Klondike.

Actually, he needn’t necessarily be a “he.” I’m not going to be prejudice. Our 250-pound weightlifter could very well be female.

Anyways, what can you do? With a man/woman like him/her, he/she could crush you with his/her pinkie toe!

For this demonstration, the weightlifter signifies our conscience. What decides, for us, what is right and wrong, what we should or shouldn’t do. For people with OCD, our conscience is pretty much the only thing keeping us sane when an OCD-bout strikes. “Should I straighten that pencil?” we think. While our disorder replies, “Yes, yes! God yes!” our conscience says, “No. You shouldn’t. Why does that pencil need to be straightened in the first place? Do you want everyone in class to think you’re a neat freak?” and so on. For OCD-ers, our conscience is in charge of keeping us in check.

But back to our experiment. You’re young. You’re fully sugar-high. And, most of all, you’re hungry for some Klondike Bar. Will you let seven stone of pure muscle stop you from getting your gluttonous goal? No way! Thus, you charge full-tilt at out weight-lifter.

But he/she doesn’t let you off that easy. No, our giant beast will fight back, throwing punches and kicks at you like Kung Fu Kid at Christmas. Each left hook asks you, “Why do you need it?” and each jab demands, “You have the will to stop, to turn away, before it’s too late!” Some of these attacks are well aimed and manage to clip you. Man, they’ll leave a mark in the morning. But you, with the help of your five, driving Mountain Dews, persevere until- Yes! You’ve gotten past the raging animal! You sprint to your Klondike Bar, tear off it’s wrapper with a flourish, and bite.

It’s sweet. It’s creamy. It’s everything you’ve ever hoped for. You feel as though you’ve died and sailed straight to Cloud Nine. Beethoven’s Fifth plays in the background while cherubs soar about you, surrounded in a heavenly night. Total bliss.

You have achieved your obsession.

But then, quick as a flash, you’ve fallen off that Ninth Cloud and straight back down to Earth. Mr./Mrs. Weight-lifter has hopped on you while your back was turned, attacking you full-blown, and this time you have no drive to shield yourself with. He/She punches you: left, right, left.

Bam! Shame.
Wham! Disappointment.
Pow! Guilt.

One after the other, the weight-lifter (a.k.a. one’s conscience) pounds your body into a lumpy pulp of disgrace, then leaves you there on the floor. It hurts, but deep down you know you deserve it. You gave in. You let those five Mountain Dews, that Klondike, that OCD take over you and ride you like a horse. You wallow in self-reproach for a minute. And then, when you finally stand up again, you see it.

Another Klondike Bar.

Mr./Mrs. Muscle.

And five more sodas, waiting to be swigged.

Will you do it again? Will your OCD take over your conscience once more, or will your will prevail over your disorder.

What would you do for a Klondike Bar?





Join the Discussion

This article has 6 comments. Post your own now!

Kidlet This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Jan. 18, 2012 at 11:18 am
Oh my God. And that's something I usually never say, because my OCD doesn't allow me to take God's name in vain. This is so incredibly accurate. I applaud this with everything in my compulsive body. I love this! Thank you for finding a tangable way to describe this! Now I can show my friends and family and they can finally grasp what I'm going through. :)
 
countrygirl28 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Nov. 26, 2011 at 10:06 pm
I have OCD, and you just described it perfectly!! It's so hard to resist OCD's temptations and fight back. I call my OCD "The Hypocrite" because it's urging me to do one thing when it's wrong. Thank you so much for your accurate portrayal of the disorder, and not just the sterotypical "straightening the pencils." Let me tell you, I DON'T straighten my pencils!! Not everyone does, so I am so glad you put more thought into this piece.
 
SamiLynn said...
Sept. 1, 2010 at 12:48 am
wow, this was amazing. I have been trying to write down an accurate description of what someone with ocd goes through- you really hit the nail on the head. And yes, I do straighten pencils obsessively and yes, mountain dew is perhaps the only thing that makes me hyper anymore, an excellent comparison to the urge of ocd. and yes, the guilt is always ever-present after an ocd episode. But im proud to say that occasionally i keep the pencil crooked. Never stop writing, you have a real talent for co... (more »)
 
Memalion said...
Aug. 2, 2010 at 9:38 am
The last line was excellent, and the entire article was as well. The comparison was almost spot-on (The only thing it was missing, for me, was the fear- but everyone's different) I loved it. Keep writing.
 
raindance72 This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 15, 2011 at 8:28 pm

Fear is a really big one for me too, Memalion.

 

As for the writer....

I liked this a lot - you were able to capture OCD in a way that is much more consistent with the disorder than many writers...the whole thing wasn't about germ obsessions, which was refreshing :)

And I liked what you wrote about the drawers because that rings true for me.

Your work is great! You apply so many great tools in your writing that more writers should be using! Fabulous! :)

 
soundless said...
Aug. 18, 2009 at 6:32 pm
That was great. Keep writing please. Thank you!
 
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