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How OCD Shapes My Relationship With Control


Editor's Note

Content warning: This piece mentions sexual assault. If you or a loved one needs support, you can contact The National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline at 1-800-656-4673.

Somehow the world fascinates me, but not in the way people would think.

I’m not in awe of the stars or the beauty of the beach. I’m fascinated by how we all can exist in such ordered chaos. How two strangers can conceive a child that will probably conceive another child. Order is something I love. The predictability of it all. Control. Mastery. Fitting beats into window panes. Holding my breath, counting to 20 by two’s or else, if I fail, my sister will get raped. I can hone the chaos. I have control. I (1), Have (2), Control (3). That was three words. Not one more not one less. I put them in that order. I will think of the number three when I count the angles of my friends face, count the beats, wash my hands. I am inherently controlled by that number three. But only for a short time and then three turns into five and back to three again.

I push the food on my plate lining up each individual pea so it will form an ordered pattern and only after that I will eat them one by one and wash them down with two sips of water, only two, each time. I often think when I’m making my food into shapes only I would understand of the people who find Jesus floating in their whole grain cheerios. I wonder if I could fine divine inspiration in my peas? Probably not. Maybe in the two sips I take? Somehow, I find the more things are ordered, the more you realize things that are out of place. A line is never quite straight enough, veering one way or another, the thinness somehow interrupted but an ugly stroke of thick.

The third of May. I see my psychologist today. I will be sitting next to the girl who always wipes down everything in case she would catch some horrible disease. (Who will tell her she already has a disease?) The older woman who can’t even remember what she had for breakfast. And me. My illness is quieter, not as public, not as invasive. An “imbalance” is what I am told. The thing about OCD is you develop OCD about OCD. You start to question if you are a good enough patient, if your OCD is OCD enough. It’s not a classic case I’m told, and suddenly I want to bring wipes and wipe down chairs before sitting in them because at least that’s in a textbook somewhere under OCD. They don’t have textbook definitions of beats in window panes and angles on faces.

My shrink gives me all kinds of hints on how to control my “intrusive” obsessive thoughts. After awhile you just take the pills, lining them up and drink your 12 sips. The problem is lack of control is a type of control. It’s not maddening because I’m too obsessed with the simplicity of it. The way a mathematician works. Numbers are simple. It’s what you can do with them that convolutes things. How they can be twisted and squeezed out, almost unrecognizable. I have been squeezed out many times, twisted and warped and nothing made sense but everything makes sense. I always come back to the variables. That’s what fucks me up. Why introduce letters into math anyway? It seems like a deranged hierarchy. Two languages twisted into one. Somehow I think I’m proficient in both, but I’m really proficient in neither.

Photo by Nine Köpfer on Unsplash