It’s Not About the Panini: A Story About OCD and Anorexia
Turning the lights on and off became an ordeal as every room’s light switch hypnotized me into gliding my fingers across it, pressing my fingertips against the smooth plastic until it satisfied me.
A similar undertaking occurred with door knobs. I felt the intense need to wrap my hands tightly around the knob, releasing it and then grasping it again. I did this until the tightness in my stomach dissolved, until I felt calm enough to walk away.
Around the same time, intrusive thoughts infiltrated my mind. They began as the mispronunciation of words in my inner dialogue, mispronunciations that I could not correct. I used all of my force to edit the articulation of vowels and consonants in my mind, mouthing the words to myself over and over, but I often failed. My own mind had banned me from controlling my thoughts.
My intrusive thoughts soon escalated into repulsive images. While on vacation in New York City I envisioned myself jumping in front of subway trains. At school, I pictured myself screaming profanities in the middle of conversations with friends. At home, I grew terrified of snapping in the middle of the night and murdering my family.
I convinced myself that I was “insane” and that no one else experienced “crazy” thoughts like mine. I went to great lengths to prevent them from coming to fruition, telling my mom that I was having nightmares so that I could sleep with her every night for three years. I also developed a skin picking disorder, which caused me to spend hours picking at my hairline until it was covered in fresh blood and scabs. I was terrified of myself, but I swore myself to secrecy. The last thing I wanted was to end up in a mental asylum. If only someone would have told me that my intrusive thoughts and compulsions were not a sign of psychopathy, but rather a nasty flavor of OCD.
Upon entering my sophomore year of high school, the majority of my most distressing OCD symptoms mutated when a new monster entered my life.
This monster made its official entrance in December 2008 when my family and I spent the winter break in New York City, which had become a holiday tradition of sorts. My previous holidays in the Big Apple had been spent agonizing over what I believed to be my impending suicide by subway train, but that year I had different concerns. I spent every waking and sleeping moment dreaming about food, planning what to eat, when to eat and how much to eat, but I did very little eating.