I don’t necessarily advertise the fact that I have OCD, that I am prone to fugues where I can’t take my hands out of my pocket in fear that they will clamp around the nearest person’s throat, or that when I was twelve I was convinced my penis was going to fall off, or that I was a devil worshiper. (A particularly involved obsession—the idea that I couldn’t help myself from becoming a satanic cult of one who was compelled to worship the dark majesty; I imagine, now, that worshipping Satan is a conscious act, full of blood sacrifices and lots of eye makeup, but I guess many people believed they’re called by Christ, so…)
As I’ve gotten older, and taken medicine, I feel I’ve gotten a lot of the symtoms under control. I still make lots of lists; I still worry about washing my kids in the tub (Pervert!); I still have the occasional bout with body-control. My wife wishes I had the cleaning kind of OCD, and that is there, somewhat, but it comes across less as a compulsive need and more like I’m a fastidious ass-taint who cannot bear wrapping paper on the floor during Christmas or birthday parties.
When I try to explain my psychopathology with someone, they almost always bring up a list of the quirks they have. I used to think this was to make me feel better, but now I think it’s something more, a need to associate one’s self with a neurotic disorder, to feel as “special” as I do.
They say, “Wow. I must be Obsessive Compulsive, too. I need to pump the paper-towel handle in a public restroom exactly three times after washing my hands.” I point out that typically three pulls is required to receive the requisite amount of towel with which to dry one’s hands. They then get pissy.
Them: Well, I also have to salt my food before I taste it.
Me: Maybe you have an iodine deficiency.
Them: I don’t think that’s it.
Obviously, a thyroid disorder is less sexy than a neurotic one.
Me: Do you salt everything?
Them: Pretty much.
Me: Cereal? Cake?
It’s at this point that they try to get personal.
Them: When I walk near the edge of a bridge or the top of a building, I feel like I’m going to fall over the edge.
Me: Me too.
Me: When you hold a pencil and someone else is in the room, do you have to turn your back to them or sit under your desk because you’re afraid that if they come to close you’ll jab them in the eye?
Them: Uh, no.
Me: Are you afraid to hold pictures of your sister or kids because you might touch the image near their crotch or boobs and are therefore photographically molesting them?
Me: When you shake hands with your Dad, do you have to wash your hands before you use the toilet because there’s the distinct possibility that when you whip out your junk stray skin cells from his hands will attach themselves to your cock and ballsack and you will be making him an unwitting but very real dick-and-ballsack caresser?
It’s typically at this point that the conversation ends. I feel like a kind of therapist, and though the conversation started with a kind of empathetic connection, it ends with the other person feeling better about themselves.
They don’t talk to me much afterwards, but I’m not here to make friends.
I’m here to change lives.