It’s hard to imagine what it is like to have OCD if you don’t experience yourself. After all, why would people do those irrational rituals and compulsions? Don’t they know that by doing those, it isn’t really helping anything?
The answer is yes–people that have OCD know their compulsions are irrational and they often seek reassurance. When I was in about 2nd grade, I would constantly ask, “Is it okay?” countless times throughout the day. It didn’t matter what the situation was, but all I needed to hear was that reassurance that it would be okay even if something was going to go badly. However, it was annoying to the people around me as I would essentially ask all the time. My parents and friends at school became irritated and would answer “no” just so they could get me to stop, but instead, this caused me to panic. I would break down crying or would beg to my eight-year-old best friend or to my parents to say yes even if I knew the situation was going to turn out okay anyway. I would tug on their arm whispering it over and over again as I didn’t want anyone else to hear, but I was desperate to know that answer. I was extremely embarrassed when they would get frustrated because I knew it was stupid and I didn’t blame them, but at the same time, I couldn’t help it. I remember when my best friend complained about it to my parents and they found out that I was doing it at school too. I was mortified and with a blushed face, tried to deny it.
Additionally, my parents often went out of town for work and I would worry that something would happen to them while they were gone. I would be sitting by the swings on the playground at school, breathing in the sweet smell of mulch on a bright and sunny day when all the other kids were running around with their friends, constantly repeating the same prayer and counting to ten in my head, doing what I thought would keep my family safe.
Over time, I also began to blink ten times in order to protect them and would squint noticeably hard as well, often causing my eyes to sting from being dried out. I remember my parents took me to the eye doctor and questioned him about it. The doctor shrugged and asked me why I was doing it, but I told him that I didn’t know—because I didn’t.
I have a vivid memory of traveling with my dad in the car one day. I was staring out the window the entire trip, not saying a word, so my dad eventually asked me what I was thinking about. I replied that it was just because I was tired, which he accepted as an answer.
What genuinely was going on inside of my head was that I was stuck in an everlasting loop. I kept reciting a prayer over and over again followed by blinking exactly ten times each time. I believed that if I stopped, something bad was sure to happen, so I continued, sitting in the silent car, buried deep in my thoughts.
I tried as hard as I could to stop doing those compulsions because people were noticing it and I was embarrassed by my differences. What if they thought I was crazy? I ended up eventually getting rid of some of those behaviors on my own and relying more on mental compulsions or physical compulsions that would be easier to hide.
This was another part of my English assignment which depicts how OCD, at times, took over my life. I did everything I could possibly do to prevent anyone from finding out this side of me even though at that age, I had no idea what I was dealing with. I just thought I was going crazy or something and I had no idea there was a name to what I was experiencing and other people actually went through it too. It’s also hard because when I was younger, it was harder to not believe those thoughts. Now, being older, even though I still struggle with compulsions, I logically know that they won’t magically make everything okay or anything. However, back then, I didn’t know any better and would do anything that I could think of, desperately trying to keep the world from falling apart.