I’m So OCD This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

“I’m so OCD,” somebody laughs, organizing her Smarties candy by color. Pink. Purple. Yellow. Pink. Purple. Yellow. Pink. Purple. Yellow.

Obsessive-compulsive disorder has become the new cool thing. But OCD is anything but glamorous. I should know. When my OCD was at its worst, last fall, I averaged 400 OCD thoughts a day.

Rub your hands together. Count to seven.

I’ve tried to figure out how many thoughts I had per minute, but I’m a writer, not a mathematician, and my geometry grade proves it.

It’s not glamorous to do rituals in front of your family, friends, classmates, and teachers.

Somebody patted me on the right shoulder. Tap your left shoulder, in the exact same way, or you’ll get … you’ll get …

You’ll get run over by a car on the way home from school, or your house will burn down, or you’ll kill yourself, or you’ll die of AIDS, or …

Rub your hands together. Count to seven.

But no. That’s a compulsion. If I tap myself on the left shoulder, I’ll make the OCD stronger, make myself sicker and sicker, until I’m unable to even go to school. I’ve been that way before, and it’s not glamorous.

But you need to do it.

So I give in. And the panic, the intense, unbearable fear, leaves my body. The itch I can never quite scratch goes away – at least, for the time being.

But five minutes later, it returns, and I’m compelled to perform some other ridiculous ritual.

Rub your hands together.

Count to seven.

It’s not glamorous to develop depression, to be driven to the point of being suicidal. I don’t know how else to explain it except it’s like you’re a marionette, and not a pretty, graceful one. You’re an ugly, clumsy marionette being yanked around by cruel hands. I want to explain this to the person organizing her Smarties by color. But I don’t.

“You have OCD? Really?” someone says, and I’m immediately uncomfortable. Why is she so excited? She doesn’t have it; if she did, I’d understand her excitement. But no, for all I know, she has never experienced it.

Lucky.

“So, like, what are you afraid of?” she asks, and I want to sink into my chair. The spotlight is on me.

“Um, you know …” Rub your hands together. Count to seven. “Everything,” I say, trying to laugh it off. I’m only slightly exaggerating. I’ve been afraid of flesh-eating disease, brain-eating amoebas, AIDS, suicide, self-harm, hurting other people, falling through the floor, death ….

Rub your hands together.

Count to seven.

I want to tell her that she’s making me uncomfortable, but I don’t.

“You have OCD? Tell me what I can do,” someone else says, and I want to kiss him, that’s how happy I am.

If everyone responded that way, instead of making jokes or treating me like a sideshow curiosity, my world with OCD would be drastically different.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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sharpened_pencil This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Sept. 11, 2015 at 9:50 pm
This is amazingly well written! My best friend suffers from OCD and I don't, and it's been tough. But as you said, if everyone offered what they could do, it would be a lot easier. I have constant anxiety, so I understand my friend's deal to an extent, and I agree completely. Great job for tackling ableism!
 
Welcome2TheNewAge said...
Feb. 9, 2015 at 4:01 pm
This is absolutely brilliant. I loved your conclusion, especially. Maybe because I related to it so deeply. My mom died a couple months ago. It's been a while now so it doesn't happen so often anymore but, every once and a while someone will say it. And I want to kill them. "Oh, I heard about your mom. I'm so sorry." Of course they're sorry. Everyone's sorry. They're sorry it happened, they're sorry I'm on my own, they're sorry for my brothers, they're sorry I have to pack my own lunch the... (more »)
 
ShyBB said...
Feb. 9, 2015 at 4:00 pm
That's really good. I don't have OCD and I've never really come into contact as far as I know with someone who has it but I love to learn about different disorders. Why it happens, how it happens. And your details are very well.
 
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