Hi! I’m Louise, and I’m an asshole.
So, it’s been around half a year since I started writing about living with OCD and all the nonsense occasionally hilarious bullshit that comes with it. And thus, I thought now might be a good time to talk about some of the good that’s come from being diagnosed – namely, everything that’s actually worked to make my life a little more liveable now that I know what the heck I’m dealing with.
Hi, honestly, I’ve just written this post because I want to talk about Trufa, the dog my parents are fostering right now and maybe the love of my life.
Look at her. LOOK at her. Look at her. Her little mismatching ears! Her white beard! She’s so distinguished! I only got to spend a few days with her and I’m honestly devastated. My cat who? We stan Trufa in this house. And speaking of bitches (heh), let’s get to me.
There I am, just minding my own business, smelling my cat’s little head and drinking the a brew from mystery teabag that I found in my enormous Box of Unsorted Tea a few minutes before. Then, out of nowhere, BAM! An intruder. But it’s inside my own head. Take that one and run with it, Wachowskis. In the meantime, I’m going to tell you a little about intrusive thoughts.
Intrusive thoughts are this delicious part of obsessive-compulsive disorder (which I just discovered has a hyphen in it! Not obsessive-compulsive about my grammar, am I right) and several other disorders, like depression and PTSD, that I really didn’t know anything about until I got my diagnosis.
Intrusive thoughts are exactly what they sound like – unwelcome things inside your own head that apparently come from nowhere. And they are a really hard thing to explain to someone who doesn’t have them, because, of course, everybody has random shit pop into their heads once in a while. Yeah, occasionally, weird things just burst into your brain for no apparent reason, right? And sometimes they might be grim, or dark, or even shock you – maybe they surround hurting yourself, hurting someone else, committing violent or sexually violent acts. And it’s normal to be able to see them and dismiss them for what they are, random notions that have no bearing on you as a person.
Where the abnormal kicks in is the point where my OCD locks into whatever intrusive thought has burst into my head uninvited, and decides that the very notion of it occurring to me proves that I am an awful human being. It usually goes something like this: I’ll notice some small detail, like someone standing quite close to the edge of a train platform. I’ll think wow, if I moved a foot, I could knock them on to the rails. And then spending the rest of the day screaming at myself inside my head for wanting to murder a stranger, even though I know – I know – that I don’t want to do that.
These thoughts about my badness will go around and around my head, and every time another intrusive thought like the one I mentioned above pops into my brain, I use that as further proof that I truly am pond scum who deserves to spend the rest of my life cleaning up the cat’s vomit. For the longest time, I honestly and truly felt that I was a really evil person, and was constantly waiting for the people around me notice and shun me like I deserved. The OCD voice was – is – constantly there, mulling on every negative thought I’ve ever had, forcing me to contemplate it more and further until my brain is full of these horrible thoughts, and these horrible thoughts that me being able to have these horrible thoughts is proof that I am horrible. It feels like I’m trying to walk towards something, and someone is constantly just grabbing the back of my shirt and yanking me back to remind me of what I really am.
I was listening to a really interesting podcast by NPR on the matter of intrusive thoughts, where they come from, and how some people have treated it (right here – there’s a transcript, too, if that’s more your thing), and there was a quote that really jumped out at me: “Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a thinking problem. You focus obsessively on the things that most disgust you. If you hate germs, you think continuously about germs – how they’re crawling all over you. If you fear fire, you think about burning down your own house, day and night…It’s really just a question of what they’re afraid of.” For me, that fear is secretly being an awful person, and my brain has decided that it’s a Hella Good Time to try and prove that, constantly, until I can’t deny it any longer.
Every time it comes to finish these articles, I want to be able to say “…and that’s how I overcame this issue!” and close out on the recipe you’re presumably all scrolling for (sorry for the cooking blogger shade, it just makes me so mad). But, like everything else with my OCD: figuring out that this stuff isn’t normal is still where I’m at. I’m getting better at challenging those thoughts these days, and what they say about me, but OCD-voice is a very convincing one and sometimes, I’m too tired to argue with it. I’m used to letting it convince me, because I thought it was right for a really long time. Still do, mostly. So I’ll try to close out on a positive note, and say this: here’s to putting up a better fight now that I know what I’m dealing with. And to sorting out my teabags. That too.
You can check out the rest of the OCDiaries, my blogs about living with OCD, right here. And, as always, if you enjoyed this article and want to see more stuff like it, please consider supporting me on Patreon!
I’m sick in the head.
And I don’t mean that in the “ooh, I’m mentally ill, I have an anxiety disorder” way. I mean it quite literally: in my own head, I am often sick. Because one of the ways my stupid anxiety likes to manifest itself is via outrageous concern about my health.
I’m seven years old, and I’m standing in front of an unopened packet of new toothbrushes: four, one for each member of my family. And I know I have a big choice in front of me, because the colour of the one I choose will dictate the safety of all of them. Red? No, too close to blood, which is murder, which is death. Green? A shorthand for sickness, which is death. Blue? Water, which could be drowning, which is death. I settle for yellow, even though it could represent the sun swelling to destroy the whole planet, but that seems like the least likely potential death scenario so, reluctantly, I brush my teeth with that one. I know, somewhere inside me, that this is a lot of worry to be applying to a toothbrush, but I’m not risking disaster for some foolish green-toothbrushed hubris.