‘People can so easily stereotypify obsessive compulsive disorder. They think of constant handwashing and keeping pencils in perfect order, and things like that. You know how they have those stupid ‘how OCD are you’ quizzes on Facebook? When people equate just being really observant with OCD, it frustrates me to no end because they have no idea what living with OCD is like. If you see four boxes and one is slightly tilted…wanting to correct that or simply noticing it is not OCD. That’s just being observant.
My compulsion is to count things up to a certain number, which is always one year less than my current age. I’m thirty-one now, so I’m always counting to thirty. It’s easy because that’s divisible by ten and six and five and three. If I’m able to get to that number by counting the number of steps I take, or if I can translate words into numbers alphanumerically, and it all connects to thirty, then I’m stabilized. I’m always looking for order. That’s the obsession and counting is the compulsion. I count things that other people would say don’t need to be counted like the dash lines in a road or tiles on a wall. I have to count them. I also struggle with avoiding stepping on the cracks in a sidewalk. I cannot step on a crack and if I do, I have to hold my breath for, in this year, thirty seconds. That’s what has to happen for me to function.
I would say it started when I was ten years old. I had abusive parents. I’m assuming the desire for order in my life came from not having order when I was a kid. Sometimes, people think I’m not paying attention to them when I’m, in fact, trying to equate things. My issue is more social. I have a great relationship with my family but I feel like they’re missing a lot of who I really am. I’ve explained it to my wife and she’s very supportive, but she doesn’t always get it. There are a lot of people out there with OCD and I want to get it out there that there’s a whole gamut of issues with which people struggle. It’s kind of embarrassing to be sharing this. I’m aware of it and it’s easy to think, ‘don’t worry about it,’ but it’s part of me and who I am. I try to balance things but at the end of the day, it comes first.’