Prose of unmedicated OCD
My eyes burn as the ocean folds itself around me, swaddling me like a child.
Finally, finally a darkness as complete as the vortex in my brain. 10 seconds. 20. 30. My lungs begin to strain. The rocks in my pockets pull me deeper, deeper, spiralling downwards into the end of everything. Gasping in water, as any human would.
Gasping in air. I wake up. Beads of sweat sitting idle on my forehead. What time is it? I need to get that damned clock fixed. The kitchen. There’s a clock on the microwave. One step, two steps. Count everything. Don’t go out of line. Count everything, everything counts. I slam my elbow on the kitchen door frame. Fuck. Bleeding? No blood. Okay. Try again. Deep breath. In, out. One, two. 4 steps to the microwave. 3:47 AM. I hate sevens. Check again? 3:48 AM. Better. There’s a dirty cup on the counter. I should wash it. But I’m so tired. But then it will be there tomorrow. Then I’ll have to wash two cups. I’ll wash it now. Two pumps of dish soap. Bubbles. I like bubbles. Bubbles are soft. Right. Back to bed. Wait, the garbage is almost full. What if a rat gets into it while I’m sleeping. I should take it out. But it’s 4 AM. But I don’t want it to go rotten and attract rats so they can bite me and I get diseases, right? I’ll take it out. I need shoes. Slippers. That works. But slippers are inside shoes. No. It doesn’t matter. Breathe, breathe. Unlock the door. No, that didn’t feel right. Try again. Better. I bump my hand on the wall. I should bump the other one so it’s even. Ow. Hit it too hard. Now it’s uneven again. Fuck! Force my hands into my pocket. Breathe. In, out. InOutInOutINOUT. Out the door. 17 steps to the garbage can. It’s Wednesday. Wednesday is trash collection day. I was supposed to put the trash out last night. I forgot. How could I forget? Stupid, stupid, stupid. No. It’s okay. This stuff happens. Just take it out now. It’s fine. But now I need proper shoes. I can’t wear slippers down the driveway. It’s gravel, they might tear, and Nanny made them for me, how would I forgive myself? Okay. Shoes. Shoes. Shoes. Right, then left. No. Was it the other way? No. Right then left. Always right first. Laces. God, I hate laces. One bunny ear, two bunny ears, tie them together. Even strings or they’ll strangle me. No, it doesn’t matter. NONONO I’ll die. Try again. One bunny ear, two bunny ears, round and through. Okay. Good enough. Other shoe. Same thing. I got it! First time! Okay. Back to the door. Open it again. Nope, feels wrong. One more time. Again. Better. Okay. Out the door. Take the garbage can down to the road. 29 steps. Damn it, why not 30? INTRUSIVE THOUGHT!!! See that stick? Stab it into your eye. No. Stop. Stop. Breathe. Ground myself. That’s not real. I know that isn’t real. Don’t do that. Walk again. 7 more steps. Made it. Finally. Place the garbage can. 2 cm from the far fencepost, 4 from the close one. Good. Perfect. Back to the house. Trace my footsteps. 50 cm steps. Good. Stairs. Up the stairs. One, two, three. Try again. Something is off. Better. I’m back inside the house now. I’m so tired. I need to wash my hands. Into the bathroom. 16 steps to the bathroom. The door is open. Who left the door open? Damn it. What if someone got in and took my pills? Light on. Off. On. Off. Again. Again. Again. ARGH! 25 times. Always 25. Check the cabinet. Pills still there? Pills still there. Okay. Okay. Good. Wash my hands. Once, twice…25 times. I should build a shrine to the number 25. It is comfort. Back to bed now. What’s the time though? How long did that take? 4:48 AM. One hour. That’s 20 minutes less than last time. A new record. That voice that is not mine starts whispering. Malicious silence appearing violent. “He doesn’t really want you. You’ll hurt him. Nothing good can last. You’ll be just like her.” No. No. Not him. Stay away from him. But who am I trying to keep away? Myself? My mother living inside my brain? But who am I to separate this from myself? It is me. It’s all me. But him. He is light and quiet and sea breeze and sunsets. He almost makes me forget the constant onslaught of EVERYTHING. Almost. Shoes off. I touched my shoes. Shoes have been outside. Outside is dirty. Dirt has germs. Germs could kill me. Oh God I’m going to die. Back to the bathroom. No. Hand sanitiser. There’s some in my bag. Unzip the bag. There’s that paper I was meant to finish last night but I fell asleep early. I should do it. But it’s almost 5 AM! But it’ll be late and then I’ll lose credits and I’ll fail my degree and never get a high paying job and never get to see him. I’m doing it. Coffee. I should drink coffee. Then I’ll be awake enough to do this. Back to the kitchen. Flick the jug on. Again. Again. Again. STOP! I want to cry. One more time. Okay. Now. Coffee, 3 spoonfuls, 1 sugar. 3:1. A ratio. I’m good at ratios. Not statistics though…distracted again. Right. Combine them. Stir 25 times clockwise, 25 times anticlockwise. Fine. Done. Okay, now I can drink my coffee. But if I drink something shouldn’t I eat something? But what if I get fat. I won’t get fat, I don’t get fat easily. Shut up. A biscuit. We have biscuits. What’s the time? 5:10 AM. I have to get up at 7 to go to work. How am I gonna finish this essay? Chug the coffee. Okay. I feel sick but if I ride this caffeine wave then I’ll work at double my usual speed. Back to the bedroom. Where’s the cat? Probably doing cat things. What if she’s dead? Shut up. 6 steps to the bedroom. 1,2,3…I forgot to turn off the jug. It doesn’t matter. It’s fine. YOU’LL SET THE HOUSE ON FIRE AND KILL EVERYONE! The counter again. I turn the switch off. On again. Off. 25 times. 25 25 25. Breathe. Bedroom. Run back to the bedroom. Then it’s only 3 strides. Saves time. Time to write. My keyboard feels wrong. Let me try paper. No. Keyboard. Okay. Better. Throw the computer at the wall. No. Don’t do that. Don’t listen. Write. The state of the economy in France during the revolution was…why am I even doing this? I’m not even good at this shit. No. That’s not true. Intrusive thoughts again, damn it. I can do this. I’ll sleep tomorrow. I’ll just finish this. I’ll go back on the pills soon and then my brain will be okay again. It’s fine. I’m fine.
As my lungs fill up with water and my vision begins to fade, I wonder if this will be the place where my mind is finally quiet. Where I don’t obsessively obsess over the things I obsess about and I don’t have an attention deficit. As this ocean swallows me, I say, breathe.