Monday, August 10, 2015

OCD - The Early Days

I think that I can safely say that I have been dogged by OCD for all of my life. Its exact time of birth still remains uncertain but my earliest memories of an OCD related event most likely occurred at around age five. As a young kid I valued neatness, my room had to be organized in a definite pattern that conveyed a sense of purpose. Smaller books to larger books, toys arranged with decorum, order over chaos - structure dominating randomness. Symmetry over imbalance. Things had to be a certain way or else I was haunted by the dread of imperfection.

Once I was forced to leave in a hurry and my mom helped pack up the toys. Unfortunately she failed to return them all to their correct spot. I was haunted by the break in the natural that such recklessness conveyed. For hours afterward I ruminated on the consequence of such folly as I wondered with desperation on the severity of the misdeed.
This was one of many such actions that would linger in my mind especially if the circumstances prohibited (for some time) physical correction of the error. Such was the perilous equilibrium upon which the world’s fortune hung.

Later on my obsessions spread to cleanliness. Germs were everywhere and I loathed the notion that I a may be infected. Touching anything that appeared to be remotely unclean was a harbinger of disease and I constantly needed confirmation from my parents (more my mom than my dad) that I not fallen under the influence of some diabolical pox. I never did – clearly my immune system was tougher than I gave it credit for. However at the time this rarely mattered. For all intent of purpose I was the equivalent of a ‘Dead Boy walking’.

As I matured my fear of the unclean would be compounded by a need to wash and purify. I subjected my hands to endless episodes of vigorous of scrubbing that invariably caused them to chafe and redden. This was my remedy for coping with the infection that on its most diabolical level seemed so very real. Thankfully my mom could see through my actions and coaxed me to quit through a well-posed mixture of delicate reprimand and necessary empathy. My OCD would subside briefly, choked back but waiting behind the door to pounce should the next opportunity present itself.

In a sense OCD is a cunning beast in that it seeks the lowest level of your mental being and then strikes with brazen cruelty. Any doubt that it can latch onto becomes fair game. Once the intrusive thought worms its way into your head and escapes the initial check it stays there clawing at any contentment and magnifying its presence with the immediate passage of time. It can consume and it will for it is resilient.

The only respite, at least in those early days was rest, a clearing of the mind and a retreat to a cerebral space that it could not penetrate. There is an urgent need to re-focus, and I learnt how to do this, while eagerly waiting for the return of some facsimile of peace of mind that at the moment seemed extremely remote.
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