Every day I am consumed with thoughts that keep me up at night. Did my bedroom door click? I have urges to check the door each night, among other things. Nothing seems right unless I do it twice. When I wake up in the morning, I am in a rush to leave my room how I like it. My right leg bounces in class while I think about how my hairbrush did not make it back into the bathroom drawer, and by 3 p.m. I chew my fingernails completely off.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. This parasite feeds on my normality. My water bottle must sit to the right of me, never the left. I feel overwhelmed like weight sits on my chest and my breaths come out labored. Did I make sure the wheels of my car sat parallel to the white parking lines before I walked in? My teeth grind together when my train of thought veers into the possibility of a life where I don’t obsess over the small things. I wish that life belonged to me. Did I face my pencils perpendicular to the whiteboard?
When I am laughed at for having to erase and rewrite a line until it’s straight enough, I think of how pathetic I must seem because I’m controlled by a simple mark. Did I put the books on my bookshelf an inch from the edge? I didn’t always feel so obligated to make things perfect. As a young kid, I didn’t stress out because my jewelry box slid a little to the right. It must have begun as a need to control certain aspects of my life, but I no longer feel in control at all.
I feel like I’m on autopilot, sticking to the written code that somehow found its way into my head. I’m forced to succumb to the impulses that make me shut the door extra hard for it to make the right sound, to the urges that make my hands move on their own to put the water bottle on the right side. I never feel like I have a choice.
As a teen with OCD, life brings about hard challenges. My intentions to fix things is often misinterpreted. Some of my peers think my desire to take over group projects makes me a control freak, but in reality, I’m nervous that unless I do it, the words won’t be written in straight lines. Maybe I am a control freak.
At home, when I load the dishwasher, the dishes must be arranged in the correct manner. Did I put each cup on the top rack? I try to not freak out when the rug in front of my back door looks crooked. My bed sheets must look neat before I leave every morning. Did I put that pillow against the wall?
Nothing I do meets the normal criteria for a teen. I’m not messy or careless, yet people stereotype me that way. I think different than others, and I’m okay with that. But does my acceptance of my condition make everyone else feel the same? In the future, I hope people look past my mental illness, but for now I am left to take it one day at a time and to brush off those judgemental stares.