Vocabulary Vixen

July 17, 2009

My god, I was cracked!

Filed under: Health and Well-Being — VocabularyV @ 7:40 PM

Last night, I decided to put together thoughts and notes for this long-term writing project that I am working on, and it was a look into my descent into obsessive-compulsive disorder at 16 years old. At the time, I knew it was bad, but I didn’t know if it was *THAT BAD* enough to warrant extensive treatment. Looking back, yeah, it was THAT BAD. I had several things going for me, including a quick wit, and once I was able to ask loud enough, parents that cared for me very, very much and started in on the psychotherapy and medication help that I needed.

I’ve been dealing with this for ten years now. It’s been hellish for a lot of the time, but I look at it as I got a ten year head-start on this monster, and now I’m a relatively functional human being because of it. It’s been rough, but I’m working through it. Sometimes, I move an inch at a time. But the point is that I’m moving forward.

More after the jump!

And rereading what I wrote last night, it’s sinking in how sick I actually was. Here are some excerpts:

“My hand-washing was getting a little out of hand. I knew this. I finally read an article about obsessive-compulsive disorder in my Seventeen magazine and I was finally able to pinpoint what was wrong! It described the tales of four teenagers that had to deal with the disease and it gave me the chills. I was starting to wash my hands after *every* interaction with an unsanitary surface. I would wash my hands between classes. I would wash my hands after touching the cat. Or the floor. Or anything that my mind told me was unsanitary. Even so, I was still only washing my hands 20-30 times a day. I started researching the disease online, and it just didn’t seem like… enough to warrant having this weird disease. But my spider-sense was triggered. The more I thought about it, the more I washed. And then the more I washed, the more I thought about it. I tried to quell it, and I was okay for awhile, but it was still annoying and it was a little time-consuming. It wasn’t really affecting my grades, though. I was still able to focus on school enough for it to be Not a Problem.”

It sort of became a self-fulfilling prophecy. Keep reading.

“Sometime during that trip, my mom and aunt had gotten a phone call. My cousin, whom I love very dearly and to this day she and I share a special bond of being one of “The Girl Cousin’s”, had somehow gotten head lice. Naturally, this was an upsetting topic, and a person’s natural reaction to this news is to obsessively check everybody’s scalp with a bright light and magnifying glass to see if the little blights have taken up residence on people’s hair shafts. At first, it didn’t really bother me. It bothered me a little, but it was the natural reaction that I was having to the news, and I knew that. I tried to push it out of my mind, and it worked for a little while.

We came back from vacation and I went back to school. I was still developing my horrible fear of germs, but I managed to focus long enough to keep my grades up. I’m not exactly sure when the paranoia started, but after awhile, my mind kept going back to the head lice. Why was my head itching? I checked in the mirror and I didn’t see anything scurrying away. I *did* have dandruff, though, mainly due to my long hair, my once-daily searing hot showers (to kill the germs), and the fact that I usually let my hair air dry. Dandruff itches. It’s kind of gross, but it itches. And because it itched, it led my thoughts to head lice. My brain kept meandering back to head lice as the reason why I was itching. I had to sit down and convince myself that no, it wasn’t head lice, it was dandruff. Damn it!”

And it circled the drain. Because, you know, if I indeed *HAD* head lice, it was perfectly reasonable to get rid of them by pouring vinegar on my head. And then hot water. That would kill them. It was too damn embarrassing to be seen OUT IN PUBLIC BUYING lice shampoo, so I had to do what I could for home-remedies. It was also perfectly reasonable to inspect every square inch of my bed and bedding with a magnifying glass every night and pour over every speck of dirt that I found, trying to rip it apart, “just in case”. And, it was also perfectly sane to inspect every surface of anything I came into contact with. And to also play the “disease by association game” in my head.

For example:

“I began to observe how many times my classmates would touch their heads. And if they did it more than once in any given class period, my internal radars and sensors would start blaring in my head. And then my eyes would be glued to that person, just waiting for them to scratch their scalp again. And if I watched them do it with any type of frequency (more than twice), I would sit and wonder how they could be connected to me and if I had either caught it from them, or I could give it to them.

“So, that’s three times Amber has touched her head now. She hangs out with Abby, who hangs out with Sean sometimes. He hangs out with Justin and Justin, I hung out with Justin last weekend. OH MY GOD! NOOOOOOO!” That is how a typical class began to go. I would check my scalp between classes, looking for possible signs of the itch-inducing little fuckers, and when I couldn’t find any, I’d be satisfied for about thirty seconds when my thoughts would randomly stray into that direction again.”

And it gets worse from there. Obsessive-compulsive disorder rocks, and I don’t think I can describe the gravity of my plunging descent in it’s entirety here in one single blog post. It is going into my book, though (the aforementioned long-term writing project), where it is discussed in much greater detail. But yeah, it was THAT BAD. I’m recovering. But at the time, I didn’t know if that warranted serious psychiatric help and intervention. Looking back, yes, it clearly does! But at 16 years old, it’s difficult to grapple with and grasp the magnitude of what is going on.

I still thank my lucky stars that my parents finally listened and I got the help that I needed. I would not be where I am today without it. Although the road has been rough, I am so incredibly thankful that I got an early start in dealing with this! I could be in far worse shape today, without my parents help and support early on.

My god, though. I was cracked! (I still am slightly. Okay, a lot. But that’s beside the point.)

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