Growing Up With OCD

I did a project on my OCD for an English class and thought I’d share my writing, so I’ll probably post more from this project in the future because it was pretty long. Anyway, this one is about the day in the life of me living with OCD as a kid (and for many years after).

One night, I lay in my bed, tucked under the covers, not worrying about what normal elementary school kids worried about. I recalled that movie where the house caught on fire. What if that happened to my house? What if it would be my fault?

One time, like all kids have surely done at some point, I tried to balance the light switch in the middle, but my mom yelled at me saying that I could cause a fire. With that in mind, I decided to get up and check the light switch to make sure that it was all the way down and not stuck in the middle. I walked back to my bed…

But wait—

Was I sure that I did it right? What if I pushed it down too hard and that could cause a fire? I went back and flipped it on and then off again so I could convince myself that it would be okay. However, that didn’t feel right. I had to do it four more times now because I couldn’t just do it once.

I settled back in bed and got comfortable, but then I remembered that I was in the office earlier that day. Did I make sure that light was okay when I left? I decided to quietly sneak into the office and check that light. While I was in there, I decided I may as well check every other room’s lights that I passed on the way and flip them five times (or ten times if it didn’t feel right). Then, I went back into my room and lay down in my bed as it was getting late and I wanted to go to sleep.

A few minutes later, I realized that I didn’t check my closet or look under my bed after I left my room. I had done it before I went to bed, but then I left the room to check the light switches. What if someone had snuck into my room and was hiding there about to kidnap me? I had to climb out of bed and investigate. I couldn’t just open the door and check, but I had to really check, and by that, I mean I had to turn the light back on so I could see and blink at every wall in my closet and every corner under my bed. Then, I decided that my room was safe again and turned off the light, making sure to flip it five or ten times as usual.

I submerged myself back into the blankets, now super exhausted and the only one awake in my house. It had been over an hour and I just wanted to go to sleep. I closed my eyes for almost a minute, but then I remembered that I hadn’t checked the closets or under the beds in all the other bedrooms, meaning that I would have to start all over again. I started crying and tried to block out those intruding thoughts.

I would get stuck in a situation like this every night for years and I would either cry myself to sleep or, to my parents’ discontent, I would join them in their room and finally be able to get some rest. I didn’t know it yet, but this was just the beginning of my lifetime battle with OCD.

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