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Mon Mar 19, 2018, 08:55 PM

How I Finally Kicked My O.C.D.

'“You must really love that song,” my mother says, and for a moment my heart stops.

Both of us are plainly aware she need not be more specific than that. I attempt to read her body language out of the corner of my eye. Does she know? There’s no way, right?

“Yeah, it’s a favorite.” I nod, smiling, before turning back toward the television with what I hope is all the nonchalance of a typical 14-year-old boy.

What I definitely do not do is glance back and say, “Funny story about that song, while you’ve clearly noticed I’ve listened to it every single weeknight this entire school year, would you believe I only ever press play at exactly 8:38 p.m.?

“And check this out, once that cable box hits 9:52 p.m., I will casually retire to my bedroom to initiate the final sequence of what has recently ballooned into a nearly 90-minute nightly routine of humiliating compulsions: I’ll touch the same four CDs laid out on my dresser in ‘order’; turn the stereo on and off; move to the entertainment center; touch the ‘Twisted Metal’ video game case; turn on the TV; boot up the PlayStation; shut it off once the load screen finishes; press ‘channel up’ on the cable box until I hit channel 20, then 22, then 40; turn off the cable box, then touch nothing else until it’s lights out at 9:58 p.m.

“And that’s not even the craziest part; the craziest part is that I do these things because I believe they will somehow increase my social standing among other ninth graders. Anywho, Mom, the song’s called ‘Daysleeper,’ and I’m pretty sure I’ve lost my mind.”

It started in seventh grade, when two childhood friends aged out of hanging out with me. Already depressed and on the verge of friendlessness, I was desperate to preserve life as it had been.

“Well,” my brain misfired, “Last time you all hung out together, you wore that one pair of Hanes tighty whities. Put those on.”

I did. Then I wore them again the next day, and the next, for 30 days straight.

Soon, it snowballed into an impossible amount of rituals, all infused with a bizarre sense of causality: . .

As the relationship progresses, there are only so many ways to sidestep her gentle and utterly normal getting-to-know-you questions. I’m eventually forced to tell her about my O.C.D. and depression, but I pretend it’s over: “When I was a kid, I did these rituals so I would have good days.” . .

Ten years into my condition, I am at the end of my rope. I start therapy in earnest and begin to see that — although this might not be true for everyone — for me, all the power I give the rituals lies in shame.

So I do the unthinkable. I go nuclear.

I tell everyone everything. . .

I spent a decade lying, secretly rearranging the objects in my bedroom in order to keep friends around. But opening up enough to tell them so brought us closer than ever.

I have not had a single compulsion since.'


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Reply How I Finally Kicked My O.C.D. (Original post)
elleng Mar 2018 OP
Stuart G Mar 2018 #1
hunter Mar 2018 #2

Response to elleng (Original post)

Mon Mar 19, 2018, 10:15 PM

1. Thank You for posting....k and r..nt

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Response to elleng (Original post)

Fri Mar 23, 2018, 03:09 PM

2. Oh, I do wish it was that easy, but I'm glad it was for him.

Sometimes my OCD has positive aspects, for example when I was working in blood banks and medical labs I could channel some of that energy into the kind of perfectionism and attention to detail that work requires. I'd be wary of any drugs that might dull that edge. That same OCD energy is useful writing computer code, especially assembly language. But OCD has never been better than 20% positive and 80% horror for me.

OCD combined with depression and psychotic symptoms is potentially deadly. I've told people that I've never considered suicide because being dead would interfere with doing all the useless shit I have to do. (If you tell your doctor that you'll be signed up for twice weekly meetings with a mental health professional as your meds are adjusted.)

I used to run obsessively. I suffered eating disorders. That's probably why my knees and hips are fucked up. In middle age I'm the damned Tin Man. Sometimes I can hardly move. I'd probably still be an obsessive runner if it didn't hurt so bad.

Certain psych drugs are effective for me, I won't name them here because what works for me may not work for others, and drugs that used to work for me no longer do. I've quit drugs when the side effects became intolerable, sometimes with bad consequences. I've been a non-compliant patient. If you want to talk about specific drugs, ask your doctor.

My current prescriptions are not magically effective, they're merely better than the alternative of no drugs.

It's my own sorry experience that whenever I quit my asthma or psych meds I end up in the hospital. I learned not to mess around with the asthma a long time ago, maybe because being unable to breathe is so terrifying and the side effects of modern asthma meds are so mild. But I've been an idiot with psych meds more times than I care to confess, probably because the side effects of many psych meds are unpleasant and the first thing that flies out the window when I quit my meds or they fade in effectiveness is my ability to judge my own mental state.

I worry that articles like this are discouraging to people who are unsuccessful with non-pharmaceutical therapies.

On the other hand there are too many doctors and patients who seem to think every mental health issue can be solved with a prescription, and direct-to-patient pharmaceutical advertising is loathsome.

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