I suffer from OCD – but not the typical OCD you’d expect. Just as there are different types of depression, like seasonal and postpartum depression, there are different versions of OCD, some more nefarious than others. Personally, my OCD gremlin isn’t as much of a douchebag as others’ little demons, some of whom have driven their owners to suicide, but it has definitely impacted my life in a hugely negative way, to say the least. Even though some days I feel like I’ve made peace with it, and some days I have the courage to look it in the eyes and whisper softly, “Not today, asshole,”, there are other days – nights, rather – when I genuinely wish that it would Just. Go. Away.
So of course you’re wondering what symptoms of OCD I have. Well, I have an unhealthy addiction to perpendicularity and parallel-ity, a symptom I have in common with other OCD sufferers and middle school geometry teachers. That is, if something, let’s say my phone, is slanted forty five degrees on a table, I will risk my life to make it ninety or zero. Otherwise there’s a good chance my head will explode and my family members will all die from all the harmful radiation that all slanted things emit.
I also like to count things in my head (maybe I should become a math teacher after all!) but, again, in an unhealthy manner. For example, I check my alarm clocks frequently, even though I know I’ve set the right time. Another example: I tend to get “caught” on certain things when I look at them, and I can’t look away. “Counting” refers to when I try to count to get myself out of the loop. Here’s what a cycle looks like:
• “3 more times, then I’ll force myself to look away.”
• “Okay maybe 3 more times.”
• “Okay another 3 more times, to complete a set of 3 times.”
• “We need to complete 3 sets of 3 times. God damn it.”
But these are all small, small things. As I said, I don’t have the typical OCD. I don’t shower excessively. I don’t do the laundry a million times a day. I don’t wash my hands with soap until they get so dry they crack and bleed. And I’m thankful for that.
What I do have is something slightly more embarrassing, but still serious. In fact this version of OCD has taken many, many nights away from me. Why? It’s because my OCD makes me pee. A lot.
I need to pee at least 5 times BEFORE I sleep. Not during, but before. Sometimes this number goes up to 25 – I’ve counted. Because right after I pee, there’s an unusually short interval – sometimes immediately – that I have to go back to the toilet and relieve myself because I’ve convinced myself that I will 100% be unable to sleep if I don’t pee again. Most of the time, something comes out, maybe a small stream, maybe a drop. But certainly it doesn’t warrant another trip!
If this doesn’t sound very OCD-like to you (maybe you’ve faced the same problem) here’s the thing – there are nights where I literally cannot sleep because I repeat this cycle over and over again for up to four hours, and give up on sleeping because my mind is in a knot. And even though I know that there’s nothing or very little in that container near my pelvis, what I like to call a “phantom weight” tends to bear down on me, forcing me to pee. And it SUCKS.
Because OCD is an anxiety disorder, this gets much worse the night before stressful situations like exams or presentations. As a result, I’ve had insomnia for pretty much my whole life.
I have sought therapy for this, however. When I first talked to my psychologist about it, and I heard her diagnose me with those fateful three letters – suddenly, everything made sense to me. I had a mental health condition, and that was the reason I was doing all of that weird shit.
These few days, I feel like I’m definitely improving. The therapy has helped. And, I’ve become to develop more of an iron will that has allowed me to stare down that little shit and say, definitively, “No.” Furthermore, I now replace my thoughts of having to pee with more comforting and relieving thoughts that don’t trigger an anxious meltdown.
That’s why I have hope, that I’ll soon be able to overcome this issue that has been plaguing me for years, and park my demon in some little corner of my mind where it’s all but forgotten, just like what other people have done to their anxiety and depression monsters. It’s been a long struggle that’s not exactly life-threatening, but has been damaging to my physical and mental health. Though I know it’s not over yet, but I do see the light at the end of the tunnel.
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