The Inner Monologue of Someone With OCD and Trichotillomania


Editor’s note: If you have OCD or trichotillomania, the following post could be potentially triggering. The International OCD Foundation has a list of online and phone support groups here, and the TLC Foundation for Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviors has a list of online support groups here.

“What’d you say?”

He repeats.

“What?” I say.

“Jesus, Al. Did you really not hear me? I’m not repeating it.”

“No, please! I really didn’t hear you!”

I heard him. But not every word. I mean, I got the general gist of what he was saying. But I missed that one word. Right there at the end. Where the voice naturally trails off and quiets. I need to know that last word. I need it so bad that I feel it in my chest, in my hands, in my head, in my feet. It makes me hot, it makes me angry, it makes me salivate.

I ask him again. “Please, one more time. I need you to repeat it.”

He walks away.

***

I’m on the subway. I’m reading. I read a line; But where am I to go?

Wait, what? What did that say?

But where am I to go?

What?

But where am I to go?

But where am I to go?

But where am I to go?

It says the same thing every time. No matter how many times I read it, it says the same thing every time. But I’m not sure. I mean, what if I read it wrong? What if I read it wrong and this one mistake can influence the way I perceive the rest of the book?

I read it again.

But where am I to go?

***

Open email. Click. Reply. Hand up.

Open email. Click. Reply. Touch.

Open email. Click. Reply. Yank.

Open email. Click. Reply. Rub.

This is a trance-like state. My breathing slows and the mechanics of brain start to resist. I’m searching for the right one as I thread each piece through my pointer and thumb. I find the perfect one and pull it out. I look at it for a few more seconds. I throw it away.

The hand goes back up. I slide it to the center of my scalp, to the bullseye of my hair pattern, to the crown. My Spot. I take the hairs and part them right down the center of the bullseye and then I pull.

I want a bald spot. I want to look at it in a hand mirror. And I want the hair to start growing back, all prickly like. And then I want to take my tweezers and pluck each tiny hair out.

Instead, I tie my hair up in a way My Spot is unreachable.

I wait for the next wave to hit.

***

I brush my teeth, wash my face; the normal bedtime routine. I go pee.

I grab my water bottle and my phone and I go to bed. I play on my phone until my eyes are heavy.

Time to set my alarm. 7 a.m. … on. 7:30 a.m. … on.

I set two because I’m terrified of waking up late.

I lock my phone. No no no I definitely didn’t set my alarms.

I check again…on…on. They’re both switched on. They’re both a.m.

I lock my phone again, making sure I don’t touch the screen just in case my fingers mess anything up.

I check 10 more times. I’m satisfied.

I close my eyes. F*ck, I have to pee.

“You just went.”

“I know.”

I manage to squeeze two drops out of my almost-empty bladder. I feel better.

I lay back down. Ten minutes pass. I push my hands into my bladder. Fuck, I have to pee.

Nothing comes out.

***

“Kiss?”

He sticks his tongue out when I lean in.

“No, seriously. Come on. Kiss?”

He does it again. I laugh.

“Come on!”

This time he licks the entire side of my face.

“I want to go to bed. Please just give me one good kiss.”

Now he sucks on my cheek. I’m not laughing anymore. I need this kiss. I need it to go to sleep. I can’t move from my leaned-in-kiss-me position until I get what I need.

I get angry. He laughs. I don’t get my kiss.

I leave the room. I go to bed. And I’m fine.

I’m always fine. Nothing bad will happen if I don’t get my kiss.

Nothing bad will happen if I don’t read that sentence over again.

Nothing bad will happen if I don’t check the alarms on my phone just one more time.

Nothing bad will happen if I don’t use the toilet again.

Just because I think it doesn’t mean it’s true.

Just because I think my about my mother dying today doesn’t mean she will.

Nothing bad will happen if I hear a siren and don’t do my ritual.

Heart (God), Lips (Bless), Forehead (You). Back Down (Please be safe). Twelve thumps on the chest.

Nothing bad will happen.

Just because I think it doesn’t mean it’s true.

Nothing bad will happen.

Just because I think it doesn’t mean it’s true.

Again.

A version of this post originally appeared on Medium.

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