I was already an adult when I received a diagnosis for a behavior disorder that I’ve had for my entire life. Most of the people around me weren’t too surprised, but I was shocked. It seemed impossible at first. I’d never met anyone I’d known to actually have the condition, and I didn’t know much about it beyond the general knowledge (and misinformation) held by anyone. It wasn’t anything I’d researched independently or watched any documentaries on, and certainly nothing I’d have attached to my own strange behaviors.
I bet you have them too, don’t you? Habits and behaviors that you aren’t sure if anyone else shared? Have you ever kept something a secret because you didn’t want anyone else to see? Or maybe something you kept to yourself, but secretly suspected (or at least hoped) that lots of people experienced, too?
This is how I was with my obsessions. My desire for peculiarities. How was I supposed to explain to someone else that my towel has to rest in a certain place, or I have to finish a certain looping daydream before getting out of bed? It only takes a minute, why can’t they just accept ‘I’ll be right up’ and leave me be? What do I say when I go “Hey, can we go home the other way?” and they ask me “Why?”.
The real answer? Not finishing the circuit bothers me. But when I was still very young, I started making up reasons for this kind of thing. It was too embarrassing not to.
As an adult, the made up reasons faded in exchange for silent discomfort. I didn’t know why I liked things to be a certain way. And those are mild examples compared to the vivid (and often violent) intrusive thoughts, the desire to chew on and even eat non-food objects, and the skin picking.
The goddamn skin picking. That’s the part that tried it’s best to ruin my life.
I’m better now than I was, but I’ll never be free of it. This week, I’d like to share Itch, a fictionalized account of my own struggle with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and Excoriation.
It’s not as exaggerated as I’d like to claim.