Day 56: Obsessed

I have never written about this, at least to my recollection, but I have a disorder, namely Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, commonly known as OCD. When most people think of OCD, they think of Jack Nicholson in the movie "As Good As It Gets." His character's condition manifests itself in many ways, but primarily he is obsessed with germs, an obsession which almost renders him incapable of functioning.

But OCD can manifest itself in many, many ways. My early realization of my own OCD came when I became aware of the fact that anytime I climbed steps, I counted them. And, if I didn't end up on an even number, then I would "fake" the last step, pretending to climb one more invisible step, just so I could end on an even number. Someone laughed at me once when they caught me doing it, and I realized for the first time that it wasn't "normal." When I explained what I was doing and why, they said simply, "Well why don't you just count by 2 and then you'll always end up on an even number." This great idea helped me in two ways. It allowed me to stop faking that last step, and it let me hide my OCD.

I soon noticed that I also counted by fours. Anytime I was in a room that had panels of any sort, ceiling tiles, wall tiles, shower tiles, floor tiles, then I would drive myself crazy with distraction counting each square and rectangle. I had to stop sleeping with a digital clock on my side of the bed because I couldn't fall asleep until the lines that created the numbers could be counted by fours AND would end up on an even number. My disorder, this compulsive counting that I did, became dangerous when I started counting the rectangular shaped lane lines on roads and highways! Fortunately, I learned some behavorial modification therapies that allowed me to compensate for these issues.

For a short period of time, I had a thing where I could not touch doorknobs in public places. If I had to touch one for any reason, I had to wash my hands several times to get over the thought that I had horrible germs on me.

But the worst part of my OCD has been and continues to be my obsessive thought patterns. Once something gets in my brain, it is incredibly difficult to get it out. That is why I don't watch horror movies. Because I will obsess about what I have seen until I am certain that the creature from the black lagoon has set up residence in my shower.

Only recently have I come to understand that my need to control things comes from this particular disorder as well. The more something is out of my control, the more my brain wants to create scenarios where I can control it. Sometimes these controlling, obsessive thoughts even creep over into my sleep, where my subconscious brain often creates gruesome solutions to my problems.

When my life becomes too stressful, when situations become literally out of my control, when I can see no way out of something, that's when it gets bad. Fortunately for me, this happens very rarely. It's almost like a cosmic aligning of the stars has to happen. Currently, I have an emotionally stressful situation in my life, AND I'm busier at work than ever before, AND 3 of the 4 people in my house are not happily employed. So my brain is working overtime trying to control all of these things that are out of my control. It's mentally and physically exhausting.

All that to say, I am glad that I can cling to the fact that I know Someone else is indeed in control. So when my brain wants to convince me otherwise, I simply claim the Truth. And mercifully, (on most days) the Truth sets me free.

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