Saturday, 14 May 2011

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder


Rituals, rituals,
Damn, damn rituals!

Must get out of bed on the right side,
Quilt folded just so, pillow fluffed.
Gotta do it!  Gotta do it!
Why have I gotta do it?
I really don't know.
But if I don't...
O God it doesn't bear thinking about,
Something terrible will happen...
But what I don't know.

Open bedroom door with elbow.
Hands bad luck.
Knock twice on the architrave.
Must get the rhythm right!
Must get the rhythm right!
Touch picture on wall with right index finger
(Then twice left cheek).
Four steps forward, two steps back.
Four steps forward, two steps back.
Made it to bathroom!

Open door with elbow.
Hands bad luck.
Knock twice on the architrave.
Must get the rhythm right!
Must get the rhythm right!
Turn on taps, wash taps,
Wash soap, wash me.
O God it takes an eternity.
Wash me, wash soap, wash taps, wash sink.
Wash me, wash soap, wash taps, wash sink
Over and over again.

O God the stairs!
Touch wall with right index finger for luck.
Four steps down, two steps up.
Touch wall with right index finger for luck.
Four steps down, two steps up.
O God this is screwing me up!
Will I make it?
I can't bear the thought of going back up
And starting again.
Touch wall with right index finger for luck.
Four steps down, two steps up.
Touch the wall with right index finger for luck.
Four steps down, two steps up.
Finally made it!

O God!
I need to go to the toilet!
I have to go back up!

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) presents with obsessional thoughts - words, beliefs, ideas; doubts - e.g. did I turn the tap off(?); rituals - e.g. repeated hand washing; convictions, ruminations, impulses, images, all of which lead to an anxious and/or depressed state.

OCD rarely occurs in early childhood.  The age of onset peaks at 12-14 and 20-22 years old.  The onset is usually earlier in men and very few - men or women - develop OCD after the age of 35.  Onset may be insidious or acute and a precipitating event is clear in approximately 60% of cases.

Minor obsessive-compulsive symptoms account for 17%.  Personally, books are placed on shelves in order of height and content, dishes on the drainer by order of height, clothes hung in the wardrobe as divisions of colour and crookedly hung pictures drive me nuts!

Is this minor OCD or just part of who I am?  Looking at a bookcase now - books half read are not placed back where I took them from, there are dead leaves on the trailing plant on the bookcase top - and it doesn't bother me.  But what if it did?

When you double check whether you have locked your front or car door or wonder if you have let the cat out, set the alarm and so on - consider what it must be like to filled with doubts all the time.

Anna :o]

With thanks to writer's island for the inspiration.

Superstition:  a credulous belief or notion, not based on reason or knowledge.
                     Some superstitious actions are said to bring good luck:  such as
                     knocking on wood, crossing fingers, etc.


Frances Garrood said...

Very good poem, and interesting post, Anna. I did reply in detail, but won't this time in case it refuses to be published, as just now!

Friko said...

I sincerely hope that is not you. It can't be you, you'd never get any work done.

I think OCD would be the devil's own nightmare.

Laurie Kolp said...

This is fantastic... I love how the tone and pace of this piece goes so well with OCD.

flaubert said...

Anna, this made me a bit nervous reading it. I can relate to some of those feelings, on a much smaller scale, but nonetheless it is frustrating. Nicely done,


annell said...

I liked it so, it was the ritual aspect that I liked. Almost a dance the way you organized it! Great post.

Andy Sewina said...

Wonderfully done, the images are like watching scenes in a movie.

Belting! such an imformative post!

Sam said...

"Personally, books are placed on shelves in order of height and content, dishes on the drainer by order of height, clothes hung in the wardrobe as divisions of colour and crookedly hung pictures drive me nuts!"

I don't like crooked pictures on the wall either Anna. I think you'll find this the usual for most people because distorted symmetry is not very comfortable to look at. Being not as organised myself, I sometimes wish the bookshelves are as well arranged as yours. As for 'superstitions' such as believing certain colours are lucky when others are not, certain days being luckier and the like, is a human habit that is well recorded since the begining of civilisation in ancient Egypt where they even had gods to protect them from evil eye, ensure calm, fertility, prosperity, etc ... so there must be something there, especially since interaction of body and 'soul' with nature is not fully, and will never be, understood. Check Wikipedia for 'Bes', the ancient Egyptian god.

I also like your poem but sense a bit of worry and a little fear there. This too is natural specially if one is worried about something - and boredom can do that too. We all go through moments like these but tend to forget as they pass. Then again, maybe it's time for that once in a lifetime holiday after all, otherwise, you're OK :-)

As for OCDs, some research findings indicate that the reasom maybe physiological and has to do with certain chemical imbalances in the brain so, it is not their 'fault'. Therefore, I sincerely hope that sufferers will be helped overcome their sense of guilt for doing whatever they do before medication if that is to be successful. The human brain is a strange place!

Good post Anna, on a an important subject that is currently deprived of the attention it deserves.

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Cheers for your comments folks.

Friko - not me although admit to some possible OCD behaviours as noted in the post. But are they? As Sam said - I like symmetry. I can't understand people who are 'houseproud.' My house - home first, house second.

Flaubert - apologies for making you nervous. I think we all have a bit of OCD in us in that we seek 'perfection' in certain areas of our life. I think it is fair to say that we all worry about something.

Sam - no worry and fear my friend, hopefully an understanding of those who exist under the demands of OCD. I talk to everyone I care for, so as to understand the world from their viewpoint. For if I don't - how can I hope to help?

The human brain is indeed a strang place and I feel that those with OCD do not feel guilty - just extremely anxious about the rituals that have becom programmed into their lives.

Anna :o]

Madeleine Begun Kane said...

You did a great job poetically conveying what OCD feels like! Excellent!

Eliza said...

OCD must be such a nightmare. Everything must take ages. Exhausting! The poem was great.

Dave King said...

Told just as it is, so the poem conveys more than it tells. I am sure it could have some serious uses. It's probably better than either of us know.

Dr No said...

At the risk of striking a somewhat harsh clinical note (against Anna's as ever excellent poem): when does an obsession become an illness?

Dr No has a pretty straight forward principle, and it applies to most if not all non-psychotic conditions (by which he means conditions where the individual has not lost contact with reality): the condition becomes an illness (and so the individual a patient, and medical attention appropriate) when the condition significantly and adversely affects the individual's life.

If ordering books by size makes a person feel good, and that is as fas as it goes, that is fine. On the other hand, if they spend hours every day (and neglect what they should be doing) with a micrometer measuring the books, and adjusting their position on the shelf to laser guided accuracy, then it has gone too far, and has become an illness.

Dr No thinks this principle is important: if a person is unusual in their habits, but it causes them (or others) no problems, then they may or may not be eccentric, but they are not ill, and medicine has no business interfering with their life.

Alcoholic Daze (ADDY) said...

I think I have a small element of this in me. I always have to check gas taps, plug switches and front/back door locks before I go to bed, but I think part of this just stems from wanting to be safe while I sleep at night, but there is an element of ritual in the way I do it though. Otherwise, I cannot be bothered to put books in height order or clothes in colour order, but I do like tidiness. I suppose we all have a slight element of OCD - it is just dangerous when it gets out of hand and dictates what you do.

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Thanks for your kind comments folks.

Dr No - you are guite right, serious ommission on my part as I did read that a diagnosis is only appropriate when obsessional behaviour casuses a degree of distress for the patient and those around them.

I do wonder if those given a diagnosis (17%) with minor symptoms deserve their diagnosis as again rightly pointed out, we (me included) have our own little idionsyncrasys, eccentricities which are part of the rich make up of human kind.

It is possisble that (they) in these over-medicalised times - where each normal emotion (grief, etc) or bad behaviour (now ADHD absolving mum and dad of blame for an unruly child)is medicalised - sought a diagnosis.

I worry about the present 'industry' in counselling where as mentioned above - each normal emotion is seen as abnormal and in desperate need of counselling out. Cockroach Catcher alluded to this in this post: and highlighted "... those who had counselling faired worse ..."

I realise I have gone off on a tangent here so will shut up!

Addy - I too have a night time routine which is sensible to ensure safety and don't percieve this as unusual behaviour. As you rightly say, routines only become a problem when they get out of hand.

Anna :o]

Fireblossom said...

Thanks for the peek into a different state of being.

Jinksy said...

To me routine is a dirty word - but I do dislike crooked pictures. As for 'normal' - what's that? !!

earlybird said...

Reading this was rather too familiar for comfort. Not all of it. Just some of it. I thought the repetition very effective.

Anonymous said...

I'm manic depressive and PTSD, with a soupcon of seasonal affective disorder thrown in, just because God has a peculiar sense of what I can handle! So I truly appreciated this poem. I know a wide array of folks with different disorders, and it's dawning on me that it's not so much the diagnosis, it's what you are able to do around it. In this case, yours gave you an excellent poem that is both educational and expressive. Really loved it - you should submit to Awakenings Review! I got published there.

Sorry I'm so late coming to your blog, but I had a number of "things" that prevented my answering comments... hope all is forgiven. This is good writing. Part of our self-care, too! Amy

HyperCRYPTICal said...

Thanks for your kind comments folks.

Jinksy - I really don't know what an accurate definition of 'normal' is in regards to mental health.

Unfortunately society attaches a stigma to those who are perceived to be outside the 'norm' and as a rule isolates them.

I would, if I could (and am trying to in my own little way) break down these barriers - for we do indeed all have our little idiosyncraceys which might irritate others - but they are an essential part of who we are.

I do not have an established routine to my life either being rather indolent at times - tomorrow is my favourite word!

Sharplittlepencil - I am flattered that you believe I have OCD as it proves(?) the poem conveyed the message I was attempting to send.

I work in mental health and I really love my job and see the people I care for as ordinary folk with a few more problems that most. Importantly they are people first and worthy of respect. They are themselves and not their illness. If only society would open its eyes and cease to be judgemental.

Please email me if you wish as I would appreciate your insight.

Anna :o]

Dick said...

Unsettling and disturbing and extremely effective because of the authenticity of its voice. And also because of the the narrowness of the line it identifies between the day-to-day behavioural neuroses to which most of us are to a degree subject and the full extremity of OCD.

Pamela said...

What a great poem, really captures the feelings of OCD. I have OCD and I have learned to control it through I hope this is helpful for others out there with OCD.