Sunday, 2 October 2011
In the beginning... there was OCD
I was 11 when my pet hamster died.
It is needless to say that at such a young age a person is very sensitive, particularly when they first experience loss.
She was my first pet, my first real thing in my life that I had to look after and to care for. When she was taken to the vet and put to sleep I was absolutely devastated.
It was the conclusion to a situation that I had absolutely no control over but my age and nature made me feel that I was in some way responsible. Maybe I hadn't cared for her enough; maybe I had overlooked something that would've made it all better. Maybe it was my fault that she died.
The first memory I have of behaving with an obsessive compulsive disorder related symptom is shortly after this time. It was in the first chilly nights of autumn (‘fall’ I think if you are an American reader) and I had a photo of her by my bed. I remember vividly standing, shivering and endlessly repeating silent words (long since forgotten however) while looking at her photograph. This went on each night for perhaps two months, each night the repetitive words becoming longer and more complex, until eventually I adopted the needful feeling that I should be touching the photo a particular number of times as well.
This behaviour helped me relieve the anxiety I was feeling for my loss, to help fill the void I was experiencing in her absence, while also making me feel that I was taking positive action on her behalf to make sure she was still okay. I was continuing to bear the burden of responsibility for something way beyond my control or understanding. I can see that perfectly clear now in retrospect.
It is strange to reflect on that time and look at my younger self because in some ways, I haven't really changed. I still dread the thought of loss and I am still hypersensitive to things that are way beyond my control, even though I try with all of my might to carry the burden of responsibility for all things. All things.
That was my beginning. I bear it no grudge but I admit now, it is time for me to move on and confront those intrusive thoughts that have controlled my actions for too long.