When OCD Dares You to Do Things That Don't Make Sense
Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is like an obnoxious teenage boy, daring and urging me to do silly things.
I’m driving the car and OCD is in the seat next to me.
“You know what would be cool?” OCD asks me.
“What?” I reply with trepidation.
“You biting the steering wheel.”
“What! No!” I shout in horror. “I’m driving. I can’t drive while biting the steering wheel!”
“You could drive with your teeth.”
“No! I’ll crash.”
OCD smirks. “Only one way to find out.”
I purse my lips and ignore OCD.
“Fine,” OCD says, crossing his arms over his chest. “Then just bite the steering wheel. I bet you could sink your teeth in pretty far.”
“Do it.” OCD leans in close to me, eyes excited. “I dare you.”
I shake my head, tightening my grip on the steering wheel.
OCD starts chanting, “Bite the wheel! Bite the wheel!”
I turn on the radio to drown him out.
This doesn’t deter OCD, it only makes him chant louder.
Getting frustrated with him, I shout, “I said, ‘No,’ already, so be quiet!”
OCD gets in my face and chants even louder and more insistently, making me pull over and sit with the car idling.
I clench my fists and put them on either side of my head. “Go away, OCD!”
“I’ll go when you bite the wheel!”
I squeeze my eyes shut and scream.
Suddenly, Imagination comes flying in wearing a green cape and puts itself between me and OCD. “Hey, Jackie,” Imagination says kindly, “Did you see that poster back there with the girl unzipping her back to reveal wings beneath?”
I take in a deep breath. “Yes.”
“Wouldn’t it be cool if you could write a story about that?”
I drop my hands from either side of my head and meet Imagination’s gaze. “I’m listening.”
“But not to me!” shouts OCD. “Bite the wheel!”
Imagination pushes OCD to the far corner of my car and speaks over the top of him, incorporating local land marks into the story we’re building together.
OCD, noticing that I’m successfully ignoring him, does one last attempt at hooking my focus. “What about me?” he sings. “It isn’t fair! I’ve had enough, now I want my share!”
I continue planning the story with Imagination. After a few more minutes, I feel calmer and pull back out into traffic.
Meanwhile, OCD is still singing, “Can’t you see? I wanna live! You just take more than you give!”
But he doesn’t bother me anymore and the drive goes smoothly from there.
You see, OCD isn’t just about washing hands and checking locks (although I do that), it’s also about having constant urges and thoughts which make no sense, but usually drive me towards self-harm. All of my mental energy goes towards fighting off the urges and thoughts, which leaves very little energy for me to focus on basic, everyday things. The above example is the reason I drive so rarely.
Photo by Samuel Foster on Unsplash