I try to think back to when I was younger and what my OCD was like then. From my earliest recollections I can remember being very particular about my clothes. I couldn’t stand to wear “itchy” or stiff clothing. Getting dressed for school was always a pain. I have also always been picky about my food. Picky about what food I ate, where I ate, who prepared it, who was around, etc.
Somewhere around 10 years old I started realizing that normal things in my environment were irritating me. Certain sights and sounds would just irritate me to the point that I had to get away from them. Being young and confused I would lash out against the person causing my pain. If my dad was talking and the sound of him saying “S” was bothering me I would mock him. I would say “S” too. If my sister was sitting in a chair wiggling her leg and it irritated me I would smack her leg. Neither I nor they had a clue as to what was happening to me. They thought I was just being a brat. I guess I was but I had so much anger and confusion I didn’t know what to do with it. My parents and my sister still talk about how much of a brat I was when I was younger. Aside from the anger brought on by the issues I don’t think I was a brat. I’ve always been very sensitive to the feelings of others.
As I moved into my late teens I felt I had more control of my situation. I could many times leave or altogether avoid the things that irritated me. I could fix my own meals or at least have some control over what and where I would eat. Some of my friends noticed I would sometimes do strange things. I would touch things or have to close all doors or cabinets in a room. They would joke and say I had doormonia. I don’t recall any of my issues ever bothering them but they did notice. But I don’t think they thought of “issues” when they thought of me
Throughout my adult life I would struggle with the sounds and sights that irritate me. New things would come and go but the main ones would stay. But I always felt they were just part of me – just something that was there I had to deal with. But I lived my life. Certain things would be complicated. For example, being asked to go out to lunch with my coworkers was always a pain. I would either go and be miserable or make up an excuse or hurt their feelings. But as people got to know me they would soon just stop asking. The phobias and OCD issues where there but they were not me.
All of this brings me to this point. Today, as a 46 year old man, I feel like my issues define me. Today I feel less like a man who happens to have issues and more like “the guy who has issues.” I feel like doing normal activities is getting harder and I feel myself withdrawing more and more. I feel like I am living in a box and the box is getting smaller and smaller every day. Eating has become a chore. Yes, I can eat here at home without getting grossed out. But my limited menu is just becoming so boring. I would like to expand but the fear is so great. I would like to be more social but my nervous habits inhibit me. What if I start blinking and I can’t stop? What if they catch me doing some little touching ritual? What if? What if?
I am so tired of being this way. I am so tired of people seeing me this way. I am just tired period. I want people to see who I really am – a nice, personable, intelligent, thoughtful man with strong character. I try and want to be a good husband, father and citizen. But the issues just get in the way. It’s like competing in an unfair game. It’s like playing basketball against another person but you have to wear really heavy wrist weights and ankle weights. You do the same things but it requires SO much more energy than it does anyone else.
It seems like a past month has been worse than usual. I need to get out of this state of mind. I need to get my life back. I need to peel away the filter and rediscover the sunshine. I need to stop feeling guilty for the things I can’t control. I need to remember to be thankful for the things I do have.