I didn’t know I had OCD until a few years ago. I was just glad to finally put a name to those nagging thoughts in my head.
You see, I had to touch everything three times. Touching something once was OK but if I touched it twice, I would have to touch it again. Either once, or three times, but never only twice.
Never twice because if I touched something twice I had to touch it again or else something horrible would happen. In my mind I believed that someone I loved would be in a freak accident.
I believed that if I didn’t touch a doorknob three times after getting home from school that it would be my fault if someone died in an accident. I know that it’s irrational, but my mind couldn’t believe anything else.
When I was just a child I wanted to be rid of this way of thinking. I came home from school one day and deliberately touched the doorknob of our front door twice. Then I walked away. But I couldn’t go any further than the sofa a few feet away from the door. I had to go back and touch the doorknob.
Because if I didn’t, it would be my fault if someone I loved was in an accident.
That was just what I believed. I was riddled with anxiety and feelings of guilt and I didn’t know why.
Even so, I didn’t think anything of it. I’ve told teachers this story and they didn’t think it was anything serious so I shrugged it aside and never mentioned it to anyone again. They all thought it was odd, but funny. And that was the end of that.
When I was a teenager I thought my obsession with touching everything three times was over, only to realize that it manifested into something different. Every night when everyone else was sleeping a nagging voice would tell me that the kettle switch was on. Or that the microwave or stove was on and that I had to make sure everything was switched off.
So I’d get out of bed, grudgingly and half asleep, and make sure that everything was put off.
Because if I didn’t, it would be my fault if the house went up in flames.
OCD even manifested itself into my prayers. I’d stand there, reciting something three times that should only have been recited once. I’d enunciate everything and then that nagging voice would tell me that I didn’t say it right. So I’d say it again and again and again.
My family would tease me because I’d take up to half an hour on a prayer that takes roughly five minutes. It became unbearable to the point where I wouldn’t pray by myself. I would beg my brother to pray with me because that was the only way I’d get to pray without that nagging voice telling me to say everything three times or to enunciate it better.
Everyone else thought it was funny, not knowing that it was hell to go through that.
I have a million negative thoughts a day that I have to stop before that’s all I think about. I worry about my family the most, about car accidents, murder, robberies; anything that you’d hate to happen to anyone that you love.
I know that it’s irrational. I know that touching a doorknob three times is not going to prevent an accident neither is not touching a doorknob three times going to cause an accident.
It’s been over a year now where I can finally pray in peace, go to bed without checking every electric plug and not have to touch everything three times in order for my mind to be calm.
I don’t feel the need to place pencil crayons by the length of the nib like I used to. I don’t walk through doorways multiple times anymore. Although I still have coloured clothing hangers for certain items of clothing (peach hangers are for shirts, red and white are for pants).
And yes, I still have intrusive negative thoughts but I’m managing them. It’s easier said than done to change the way you think, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible.
I have far too much to be thankful for to let those thoughts take over my mind the way they did before.
If you have OCD, feel free to share your obsessions and/or compulsions in the comment section and know that having OCD doesn’t mean you’re crazy or alone. Although at times it definitely feels that way.
*A part of me would like to believe that OCD is linked to a certain mad genius, especially when it comes to writing and other art forms. Wishful thinking?