I diagnosed myself with obsessive compulsive disorder when I was in elementary school. No, I didn’t knock on doors three times in a row or wear gloves to keep my skin clean. I wasn’t terrified of handshakes. I wasn’t terrified of germs. I was terrified of death.
I had, what multiple medical websites referred to as, doubters and sinners OCD.
Basically, I was afraid of my loved ones dying and was compelled to do weird-ass things to protect them. I flicked my light switch on and off and on again until it felt right. I repeated phrases when I felt like I didn’t say them correctly the first time. I refused to wear certain outfits on certain days, because they felt like bad luck.
Once, my mother drove me all the way to the city for a program I begged to attend. And, after the three hour drive was over, I refused to go inside, because I believed that she would get shot dead if I left her alone in the car. So I made an excuse about being sick and she drove me back home.
I never saw a psychiatrist for an official diagnosis, but I swore it was OCD. All of the signs were there, including the fact that I realized my fears were irrational. That I knew I was acting crazy.
But that didn’t matter. If I had a feeling eating chicken that night would cause my father to drop dead, why take the risk? I didn’t need the chicken that badly. I could eat something else. I might as well listen to my OCD’s warnings, just in case. Just in case. Just in case…
That’s what my mindset was. For thirteen years. And then I decided to do something about it. I decided to resist what that evil voice in my head told me. To beat it.
So, when I was a middle school girl that had a feeling I should cancel plans with my tween friends, I ignored my OCD for the first time in my life. I went to the movies with them. Had fun. My best friend’s mother picked us up. My father agreed to take us home.
But, after the credits rolled, we waited. And waited. But he never showed up. It was snowy that night. The car had shitty tires. You can guess what happened.
His death was a coincidence. It had to be. But it set me back. Scared the holy hell out of me. From then on, I did everything my OCD asked me to do, even the little things that I usually tried to ignore. I listened to it like a wise friend, one that knew what was best for me — one that would fuck me over if I ignored her.
I inevitably ended up getting homeschooled, because kids made fun of me for my quirks. But I’m in my twenties now and have my heart set on attending college. Of getting a degree and living in a dorm and maybe even getting drunk at a house party.
But in order to do that, I need to conquer my OCD. (Yes, I should’ve went to a shrink long ago, but I was convinced I didn’t need one. I was stupid. Okay?)
So, last month, I tried disobeying my OCD for the second time in my life. It told me that my sister, my beautiful baby sister, would be in trouble if I wore my favorite black dress. But I wore it anyway.
She came home that night with a bloody slash from her mouth to her eyebrow. Her psycho boyfriend had caught her kissing another guy and had grabbed a knife. Attacked her.
Coincidence. Coincidence. Coincidence. I knew she had a shitty boyfriend. I even knew she was cheating on that shitty boyfriend. Something bad was bound to happen, regardless of what I was wearing.
I continued on my mission. When my OCD told me something bad would happen to my cat if I didn’t stop reading my book on an even numbered page, I kept on reading. It was a good story, Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn, and my cat was healthy. Young. An indoor cat. Nothing would happen to him.
Except it did. Mom left a window open, something she did every damn day to air out the house, and he decided to jump out. Ran down the street. Got bulldozed by a car.
I couldn’t believe that was a coincidence, too. I refused to believe it.
I was starting to think my problem wasn’t OCD at all. That it was something deeper. Darker. Demonic?
The voice in the back of my head changed that day. Like it was angry I wasn’t listening. Like it was in pain. Like it was crying out for help.
But I kept ignoring that voice. Kept doing my own thing. Kept hoping that I was doing the right thing.
The first night I tried to fall asleep without my cat snuggling up next to me, I heard ringing in my ears. It was followed by a sharp, physical pain. Like someone was trying to pierce my ear, but from the inside.
I stumbled to the mirror attached to the back of my door. Saw something dripping out of my left ear. Blood? No. No, it wasn’t liquid. It was solid. Like a long, thick worm. A bright red worm that was crawling out of my fucking head.
I didn’t know if I should grab it and yank the rest out or scream or shove it back inside. So I just watched while a foot-long creature slid out. Landed on my floor. Coiled around itself.
You were a good host, I could’ve sworn it said. But our fun is over.
In one lightning-quick movement, it slid under the door, into our darkened hall. And just like that, what I always assumed was ‘OCD’ was gone. I never had a compulsive thought again. Never had a hunch that a loved one would die again. Never heard that demonic inner voice again.
But, the thing is, my sister has been acting weird lately. She hasn’t admitted anything to me or my mother, but I think she’s struggling. I think it’s inside of her.