August 29, 2010
By , Anthem, AZ
"Why do you wash your hands so much?"

I stared in the mirror and saw her looking at me expectantly. I opened my mouth slowly, and out came, "I don't know."

In fact, I did know. I knew very well why I washed my hands so much, why I brushed my teeth for fifteen minutes, why I needed at least a half hour to shower. I had OCD.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. The name is pretty self- explanatory- a brain disorder where you compulsively obsess over certain activities. Mine had to do with cleanliness and perfection. I couldn't NOT obsess. It was in my blood, this ugly characteristic brought out by a cross country move that had completely thrown me out of my element. In an attempt to reorganize my life, I resorted to insane and sometimes unhealthy behaviors, repeating them over and over. The redundancy brought a sense of comfort and stability

I let go of her gaze and looked down at my raw hands. The spot between my index and middle fingers had opened up again and it stung. I hid it with a paper towel. I couldn't let her see, couldn't let anyone see.

They wouldn't understand, COULDN'T understand. How could they understand my anxiousness if they didn't have any themselves? How could they get the way your heart can seize up, your breath can become shallow, and your stomach can flip just from thinking yourself in circles? It was impossible. We were only third graders. I wasn't supposed to have this stress, constant paranoia, and guilt. I hadn't even done anything bad, yet I had to get clean.

I didn't like myself very much, humans very much, or the world very much for that matter. So dirty, so filthy, so unpredictable. And I saw myself as a contributor to all of this.

I was getting help though. I tried therapy, relaxing CDs, and my own personal self-restraint from repetitive behavior. But I couldn't ever confide this in anyone, anyone besides my mom. I was already one of the "smart ones;" now they'd just think I was a complete freak.

She just stood there awhile, waiting while I went back and scrubbed my hands surgically for the third time in a row and proceeded to wipe them completely dry with another paper towel. I used the paper towel to open the door handle.

That year was rough, very rough. I felt I had no friends and I tried to hide from it all. I prayed for help compulsively and got frustrated when I couldn't say the Lord's Prayer without messing up, feeling guilty and apologizing repeatedly for sins and my idiotic inability to even pray right. I wasted an hour a night doing this, leading to sleep deprivation and an exhaustion in my faith in God.

But I made it through the year- I survived. And about halfway through fourth grade, one fateful project made me discover my love of writing. Things started to get better after that.

A few years later I moved cross country again, and then a third time. I would love to say my problem miraculously disappeared, that I learned to deal with change, that I feel completely comfortable with random situations thrown my way, but that would be be a lie. But I've learned to cope through my art and my writing, and I've learned that I am not alone in this problem. And most of all, I've learned that I won't let other people feel alone as I felt. No one deserves that.

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SamiLynn said...
Sept. 2, 2010 at 7:04 pm
amiLynn here, this was not supposed to be anonymous!
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