As a German-American, German-speaker and a Heathen, I have some reason to be concerned that ignorant folks will actually assume I have Nazi sympathies. A lot of people make the false assumption that Teutophiles must be Nazis, or that all Germans are Nazis; and there is an unfortunately loud-mouthed minority of Heathens that are white supremacists. But because I have OCD, and my brain is wired all wrong, I take these reasonable concerns and run with them waaay out into left field.
OCD is all about obsessions, and the repetition of those obsessions. For six years, I have been having the same internal dialogue about Nazism and whether or not I am a racist or a morally contaminated, evil person. Do I harbor racist thoughts? Am I only friends with [insert X minority friend here] to soothe my conscience, or to cover up the fact that I'mreally secretly a racist? OCD doesn't care about reasonable proof; it demands infinite proof, impossible proof, and even the tiniest grain of doubt will suffice to form a horrible pearl of anxiety.
Everyone who has a conscience is made uncomfortable by Nazis. Discussing, seeing images or movies or TV shows, reading books, hearing certain words mentioned–anything to do with Nazism (aka triggers) can give me a panic attack. Usually it's just a rush of adrenalin, but sometimes it can mean trouble breathing, a sense of doom, racing heartbeat, and chills. If it's mild I laugh it off and change the subject; if it's bad I have to retreat entirely from the situation and take anxiolytic medication to bring my body and mind back in order. Just last night I was speaking with my brother and the subject of Hitler came up–because of the Daily Show–and I freaked. I started babbling, and had to excuse myself to get drugged up and breathe deeply for awhile, before returning, apologizing, and not continuing the conversation.
Those who know me in real life, especially from high school, will probably remember my paranoia and reassurance-seeking from those years. I was convinced that the school skinheads were stalking me, trying to "recruit" me. I was constantly begging for confirmation from my friends that I was not a bad person. I would talk about Nazis all the time, trying to gauge my friends' reactions to me and the topic. I had a long bus ride to and from school, and during those two hours of my day I would be guaranteed to be obsessing about my Nazi question. I made lists in my head of reasons I couldn't be a Nazi, and hosted protracted and elaborate internal debates on the topic. I would stare at the back of the heads of the kids in front of me, Latino and black and Asian kids, and "test" myself over and over again to see if I hated them. I never did, and it never reassured me. This is how I lived my sixteenth and seventeenth year.
I took the German AP test twice, the first time in junior year. I would have gotten a 5, but I freaked out during the speaking portion of the test, terrified of what the sitter would think of me speaking in German, broke down crying, and got an incomplete. (The next year, on Klonopin, I got my 5.)
For a memorably bad portion of senior year and the beginning of college, I was especially haunted by guilt and even felt as though I were somehow personally accountable for the Holocaust, that there was something I was supposed to do to "make it better"–usually self-flagellation, shame, and urges to compulsively apologize. I don't remember the "logic" OCD used to cook up that one, but it was strong and I'm still not over it. I feel "marked out", as if my shame and self-hate is special, and somehow has a purifying effect–that as long as I suffer, other people like me might not have to. It's the essence of magical thinking, and is called Responsibility OCD.
Further along the craziness that is Responsibility OCD, I worry that it is my single-handed job to "fix" the German Problem, to worry out that spectacular knot of guilt, to undo, somehow, what has been done. This is impossible for anyone. Only Time and Fate can heal these gaping wounds. One little American Asatruar who draws and writes a bit of poetry is never going to change anything, much less become the Anti-Hitler. It sounds like delusions of grandeur, but when I think these bizarre things, I don't want them. I just worry that I'm supposed to. It's messed up, and it's messing me up.
It seems like Nazi OCD wouldn't have much daily effect in 2010, but when you are on high alert, triggers appear everywhere. And my obsessions with accidentally offending people, or people thinking I'm a Nazi, severely limit my social interactions. I am often afraid to go out in public, for fear that people are judging me and finding me wanting. I am weighted down by leaden guilt over things that neither I nor my ancestors even did. I compulsively apologize and I punish myself. I think I'm bad and unworthy of a future. It is 2010, and I am being torn apart by 1945.
This is the burden on my back. This is the hakenkreuz caught in my heart–this is the essence of my madness. And it has nothing to do with my moral value as a person, whether I'm actually "good" or "bad". NOTHING. It's just the particular, thorny shape of my OCD.
Ich bin nicht ausgezeichnet.