OCD: Living by the Rules: Aligning or Centering Certain Things

Flower

Flower

It’s one of my last OCD topics! ⭐️ I think I have just a handful left to write about after this one.

This is a “small” one but has been sooooooooooooo-oooooooooooooooooooo-ooooooooooooooooooo incredibly annoying over the years. I’m not going to preface this, I’ll just pick one at random and start.

Pens: OMG pens. I used to have these particular pens I “had” to use when writing in a certain journal. That whole ritual isn’t my point; my point is that the pens had a single line of text on them, and the cap had to be removed for use. So to place the cap back on once done using the pen, I had to line up the cap’s pocket-clip-thingy with the line of text on the pen. Perfectly. It could take me 20 minutes, every moment of which I hated. But the anxiety was too high to leave it even slightly not-centered. Of course, you also had to hold it from various angles and make sure it’s really, perfectly as even as possible. Very tough.

Now? I buy pens that either don’t have any markings on the body, or are click-pens (no caps).

Window openers: These are the windows that open by cranking a small lever around and around. Well upon opening and closing, the lever of course has to be perfectly vertical. This can take an enormous amount of time, as well, sometimes meaning that you have to change how far the window is open in order to align the lever.

Sink faucet handles: Turn-knobs are fine because you have to twist them to the point where water stops dripping. There’s no choice. But the type with a single handle that must be lowered in order to stop the water is annoying. They have to be perfectly centered, too, even if you’re in a hurry. And even if you just finished centering it a minute ago between washing your hands and brushing your teeth or whatever. Annoying.

Now: As with all of this type, I don’t let myself touch item if someone else closed it and left it imperfect. All the better. But if I’m the one closing it, it still has to be centered. Someday, I’d like to break this one. It’s sooooooooo annoying and time-consuming and doesn’t accomplish anything. I’m sure if I did it enough times and nobody close to me got sick or died, I could probably keep going with it. But it’s hard to get started because of the risk of someone getting sick and dying, you know? Anyway, it won’t be today. I’ve got a loved one traveling.

Random Additions:

  • I once had to center my drinking glass perfectly within a counter tile any time I set my glass down. But I don’t have to do that anymore.
  • Tupperware lids, typically have to line up the lids to face the same way as the words on the bottom, but not always.
  • Front-facing: Always must face forward any bottles, cans, etc. (this is praised in pharmacy work, at least 😉 )
  • Obnoxious caps: Caps that have a tab or something that can be aligned with the main body labels. Sometimes I can ignore them, but not always.

Poem: This Is Irony.

Feel this burn.
Wait for self control
But none will come.
Feel the coolness trickle down my arm.
Close your eyes.
Just let me rest here for a while.
Feel my heart exploding
Feel my blood begin to boil over.

There’s the rage that I claimed I never feel
There’s the pain that I hold against myself.
There’s the blame that is knifed into my skin
Don’t trust me. I will never be okay. I will never be capable.

The prize had better have been worth it.
No more lies, let me see into the bottom.
End these tries, I’m not putting out any more effort.

What the hell is THIS?
This isn’t what I bargained for.
There’s nothing here but compulsions and no self control.

That’s not a life. That isn’t worth its weight on my back.
When did I learn these awful habits?
When did I learn these shitty thoughts?
When did I learn to close my eyes?
When did I learn to turn away?
When did I learn that following a compulsion was okay?

There was a time when I was not.
There was a time when I had self-respect.
There was a time when I could set my mind to something and achieve it.

Fuck. You.
innerdragon. You have a lot to learn.

–innerdragon

Break Time! (Break#003)

The following 3 comics are by XKCD. You can click each comic to go to their site. It’s worth it. 🙂


I literally used to walk as if I were a knight chess piece — typically 2 forward, 1 to the side. Literally.


Yes, please.


Yup.

Really cute video of a golden retriever failing a recall command in an adorable way:
http://www.litemiami.com/ellen/2014/11/19/but-isnt-a-golden-retriever-supposed-to-retrieve

Fantastic link I want to study when I have more time:
http://rebloggy.com/post/lol-party-comics-science-idiot-medical/80160688614

A great news ‘article’, “Health Experts Recommend Standing Up At Desk, Leaving Office, Never Coming Back”:
http://www.theonion.com/articles/health-experts-recommend-standing-up-at-desk-leavi,37957/

A great moment in ‘history’ — Venus gets its first bronze plaque… haha “Venus Added To Registry Of Historically Significant Planets”
http://www.theonion.com/articles/venus-added-to-registry-of-historically-significan,37928/

An odd, grammatically-correct sentence “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo”:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buffalo_buffalo_Buffalo_buffalo_buffalo_buffalo_Buffalo_buffalo

Action: Go to the Google search engine. Type in “Do a barrel roll”. Watch what happens.

OCD: Mental Contamination and Associations to People/Places/Things (Topic#050)

I didn’t have a clue what to call this one. After doing the barest amount of surfing online, I’ve decided to call it half mental contamination but also half something I made up – associations to people/places/things. It seems similar yet different from the things I’m reading about mental contamination. Maybe you guys will know a better phrase for it.

Wow, it is hard to form my thoughts for this one, because I can’t decide where to begin.

I’m going to use words like “pure” and “unpure” and “tainted”. There

are only two parts of my life for this: Pre-College and Post-College.

Pre-College: From the first day I can remember, I felt “pure” in an indescribable way. I just felt right. Pure. Clean. I was not raised to religion but the Natural world was my church and prayer was daily and there were many things I could do to feel cleansed, much like some religions bathing away sins in holy water, etc. It’s strange to admit this to anyone, and I’m still omitting specifics, but it’s true. I had my own rituals and my own beliefs and I felt special somehow, and important somehow, and clean and like I had a purpose to be here on this planet. I never questioned this and in some ways, I knew EXACTLY who I was. There was something special inside of me.

Post-College: Like I described in my previous post, I returned from my second year of college feeling 100% tainted and no longer supposed to be on this planet. I felt that God[] wanted me dead, that my purpose was done (whether complete or not) and that anyone I came into contact with, physically or mentally, was getting

Post-College Self-Portrait

Post-College Self-Portrait

contaminated by me too. I felt an urgency to be gone from the world (and was extremely suicidal at this point). I was contaminated inside, afraid to pray for others for fear of contaminating them, and afraid to spread this darkness to others.

I was dissociating all the time for up to two years. The first thing that broke through for me was a stuffed animal dog puppet that I’d had as a child. Literally nothing else broke through to me. Nothing. No person, no thing, nothing else. Just this stuffed animal dog puppet. (I think I’ve discussed this separately in a dissociations post somewhere.) I began to connect with the outer world again by having the dog puppet see things and sort of relay them back to me. It’s like, I could see things only through the safety of the dog puppet’s eyes. So I took him everywhere with me (I also carried a plastic bag and toilet paper everywhere with me, because I was having so much trouble with diarrhea, but that’s a different story).

Anyhoo, so the dog puppet. After the dog puppet, came certain people. Only people I had known from childhood. And later, HERE’S WHAT I FOUND MOST INTERESTING, a certain counselor I saw for less than a year. I had an extremely strong positive association to one particular woman from my childhood. THAT woman highly recommended me this one counselor’s name. And THAT COUNSELOR felt okay to me.

So I learned that I could form a positive association via other associations. Does that make sense? A very, very positively(pure)-associated person from my past actually let a stranger feel pure for me as well.

Armed with this knowledge, I used this process to make sure I “connected” with my dog when I got him. I actually arranged a very convoluted trip for the poor puppy to meet me elsewhere in the country when I was on a vacation. He then traveled with me to another location. He even met my maternal grandma at her old home. Altogether, he met at LEAST 5 of my beloved relatives, not including my own parents. I can’t remember if he also met any of my cousins on that journey.

I connected with him 100%. He is pure in every way and has always been the best decision I ever made. He is 100% pure and nothing I can do, think or say can alter that, because he just is. I cannot taint him.

That’s it. I have connected 100% to nobody and nothing since then. Not even my pony, although I connected with her a little bit, during the time my mom used to come out and visit with me and her. But I lost most of my connection with my pony during marriage.

So here I am today. Dissociating? Very rarely. Pure-feeling? Not a chance. But not as tainted-feeling as I was back when it started. I connect fully to nobody I meet. I’m actually losing the feeling of connection to people I know from my past now, like my aunt and uncle, I guess because I’m learning them in a new way now than when I was a child, and the new versions are not associated with me as a child? I know what I’m trying to say, but explaining it in words is a big challenge. Well, hopefully this has explained it at least a little bit.

OCD: Intrusive Thoughts: Harm (Topic#049)

Sand and water

Sand and water

Reason for today’s topic: Within the week, I experienced this quite strongly which reminded me to post about it.

Quick explanation of Harm OCD: (This is how I explained it to a friend earlier): “It’s like, intrusive thoughts you can’t control that cause you much anxiety, and are centered around you somehow causing harm to self or others. But are thoughts opposite of your true nature, which is why they cause so much anxiety.”

Some personal stories:

  • The very first Harm OCD thoughts I remember having were around my middle school years. That’s when I would pick up one of our metal clothes hangers, to hang up a shirt, and would be overwhelmed with images of me bringing the hanger up to my eyes and stabbing them out. I literally couldn’t pick up a hanger without this happening for a while. I had my dad install shelves into my closet instead, although I didn’t mention this as a reason. The only way I knew to get the images to go away back then was to set the hanger back down and breathe and try again later.
  • I’ve had many, many, many of these while driving.
    • I can be driving along totally calmly and cheerfully and suddenly be envisioning myself driving straight at the oncoming traffic. And I had no idea what was stopping me from doing it, if anything. What could possibly hold me back? Every car I successfully passed without driving into, did not reassure me or calm me. It was still a possibility at any second. I would be extremely anxious. What stops my arms from turning the wheel suddenly? I don’t know.
    • Often, I picture that I am going to turn the wheel when going over a bridge or any high point. (Remember, this is very different from being suicidal. It’s kind of the opposite; it’s being afraid of such things.)
  • The thought I had this week was for my beloved dog. At least two years ago, I was shaving some of his mats and hair with an electric razor, which I’ve used for a decade and had gotten comfortable using. Only I somehow managed to get too close to the edge of his ear and it cut him! He yelped, I screamed and cried. Shaking, I did make myself finish so he wouldn’t become afraid of the razor and I wouldn’t either, just much farther away from any possible skin. But that moment sure has stuck with me. In my head, I can loop just the image of cutting him with a razor, over and over again, and the anxiety is like, somehow having the mental image of it in my mind will hurt him. I list this here in Harm OCD because although that was an accident, I have many times had a flash of intentionally injuring an animal in such a way. It’s not the desire to do it, or the impulse, or anything like that. It’s like my mind laughing at me: “Here is your worst nightmare! Ha ha ha ha ha! That’s right, picture yourself intentionally driving this razor into your dog.” It brings up so much anxiety and guilt. When it comes up, I just have to try to distract myself with other things.
  • If such thoughts come up while I am using a razor or scissors to trim up an animal, of course I set the object down and breathe and try to pull up a different topic in my head.
  • In the same exact way, I have, before, worried I would harm another person while I was holding scissors. But it is rare.
  • I get terrible anxiety now if I’m on a plane or someone I love is on a plane. My thoughts, for the briefest of instances, can picture the plane crashing. Of course my heart pounds and I feel horror etc, and I have to think of other thoughts quickly. There is a part of me that feels my thoughts could cause it to happen.
    • The image of it crashing = could cause it to crash
    • If I notice my arms or legs are crossed = could cause it to crash
    • Doing certain activities = could cause it to crash
    • Thinking certain other thoughts = could cause it to crash (especially any religious-type thought, which has to be undone with the opposite thought)
  • I’ve already mentioned one I get around railings and such — that I will climb over them and jump to my death, so I often stay quite far back.
  • I’m glad that I have not yet had the image to jump out as the train approaches, although I often worry that I will get pushed, so I will step back any time I have those thoughts.
  • I don’t know if this counts in this category or not, but at the end of, and right after I returned from, my second year of college (“the first mental breakdown”, as I call it on here), I felt that I had been tainted. I felt that God[] wanted me dead and I wasn’t supposed to be alive any more. I felt that if anyone came near me, I was contaminating them with the darkness. I could not let myself pray for others, or that would taint them. Everything I touched felt tainted by me. (Of course, I had become tainted by the girl I was caretaking, who already knew she was beyond hope herself. [I wonder if the cross she carved into her arm helped her feel less tainted?] It came to me much more slowly and gradually, but by the end, especially after she ‘died’, I was having panic attacks on campus. Everything around me felt dark and tainted and the trees even felt like they hated me and wanted me dead. I couldn’t breathe. So yeah, after I did make it away from there and back Home, I remained “tainted”-feeling for a very long time. I actually still feel somewhat tainted to this day.

And that leads me straight to a new post on a topic I’ve been wanting to write about for a long time! Associations.

Disclaimer: I don’t really experience Harm OCD stuffs very often.

OCD: Contamination: Clothing (Topic#046)

This topic came to mind over the weekend when “Joe” and I were going to sit on my bed to watch some old Star Trek TNG. And I had to first excuse myself to put on a different pair of pants because I won’t wear my “outdoor” jeans on my bed.

This all started in a very easy, straight-forward way: Allergies.

Equine Love

Equine Love

It started in about fifth or sixth grade when I had a pony. My dad was highly allergic to horses and it was the rules that I come home and immediately change, separate out any “horse” contaminated clothing for the laundry and jump in the shower.

As the years progressed, my own allergies to horses became terrible. It was very important for me to keep all “horse” items separate from anything else. I’d break out in a rash if I so much as touched a “contaminated” item.

By high school, my feelings toward “clean” versus “dirty” clothes were quite strong. Even for clothes that were not necessarily “horse” contaminated. Even the floor beneath the dirty clothes pile felt “contaminated”. If the clothes were dirty, they couldn’t so much as bump into “clean” clothes or said “clean” item would have to be washed as well. I remember panicking once because someone had pushed my dirty and clean piles together and the anxiety was too much. I rewashed everything.

At its peak, I would have to change out of my clothes as soon as I would come home from being in the “public”. If I had had to use a sleeve to open a doorknob or anything, I would remember and be careful with that area of clothing until I was able to go home and change. Ditto for my jeans — sitting on a public chair or brushing into a public doorway or anything like that meant being very careful not to touch those parts of my pants until I could go change. Obviously nothing could be re-worn.

I can’t say for sure when/how this relaxed. I know that at some point I had three piles: 1 for absolutely needs washing, 1 for an intermediate status (possibly I could wear something again, as I hadn’t worn it for very long or just around the house or whatever), and totally clean. These 3 piles couldn’t touch at all. Even if I’d only worn a sweater for a couple of hours inside of the house, there’s no WAY I could hang it up in the closet/ let it brush against “clean” clothes.

I’m so relaxed about all of this now-a-days! It’s amazing to consider. Get this:

  • I re-wear clothes now, sometimes even when they are definitely dirty
  • My “dirty” pile and “intermediate” pile are one-and-the-same, for the most part (okay, sometimes my chair becomes piled with “intermediate” clothes)
  • My “dirty” and “clean” clothes can bump and it’s totally fine, no anxiety
  • I do not change out of my clothes after returning home from the “public”
  • I no longer think much about parts of clothing that bumped into “public” things

But, to bed! Clean clothes / pajamas only. I do re-wear pajamas for up to 2 or 3 nights in a row, depending on if I sweat during the night or not (sometimes I wake up drenched in sweat and freezing cold; I don’t know why). Fresh socks only. When I’m re-using pajamas, the nights have to be in a row. If I wear them once, set them on the bed, forget they’re there, wear a different pair the next night, and later find the first pair, forget it. They’re “dirty”.

OCD: Contamination: Funny story!

Water fountain

Water fountain (and a twig)

This just happened to me! I was in a public restroom with one other lady. She was taking a very long time to wash her hands which I noticed because she was washing before me and only just finished as I was finishing my own hand wash. We dried our hands at separate hand dryers (no paper towels in this restroom). Then the funny thing happened!!!

Neither of us left the restroom!!! I kept stalling and waiting for her to be the one to open the door. I smoothed my hair down, I re-centered my collar, I fluffed up my sweater neckline. She was doing the same bloody thing!!! LOL Finally enough time passed that I just couldn’t stall any longer! I went into the open stall and grabbed some toilet paper and used it to the open the bathroom handle and she exclaimed, “I do that too!!!” I laughed and said “Yeah, there are no paper towels!” And she said, “I know, that’s why I hate the bathrooms that have hand blow dryers!” At the next set of doors, I used my elbow to push the lever down and she said again, “I do that too!!!”

😀 I said, “Yay, I’m not alone!” And raised my hands up like I was celebrating a victory. Then we parted ways into the crowd of the coffee shop.

Skin Picking (Topic#033)

A neat tree

A neat tree

I am inspired to write this post because I recently heard these desperate words from a family member, “If you love me, you’ll stop scratching your face.”

I’m sorry. I do love you. I would do anything I could for you & for the rest of my family within reason. But I will not stop scratching my face.

It’s not because I don’t want to or because I haven’t tried SO MANY, MANY TIMES. It’s because I can’t stop. I don’t know how to stop. No techniques have been successful thus far in my life.

I scratch my face. At least it’s pretty much restricted to my face now. It used to be my scalp, too. HOW many times did I hear my mom tell me to quit picking at my scalp in public… she said I’d make people feel uncomfortable, like I had head lice.

Scratching/picking has always come easily for me. As a kid, I had terrible eczema. I was almost sent to a specialist in another state. I have scars all over my legs from the picking and scratching. But a lot of it was done in my sleep. In high school, I got a pair of feeted pajamas and that helped a lot. I’ve learned how to manage the eczema much better now, plus it’s probably gone away with age. I just suspect that’s how it became so ingrained in my fingers.

Now it’s my face and typically only toward acne. And I scratch anything 3D off of my back, too, except for moles. Sometimes, I can resist for up to two days. But then it’s going to be removed. I’ll use my fingernails. I’ve used needles. I’ve used sharp earrings.

Many times, I’ve dug so far in that I couldn’t see my skin anymore from the blood. I get completely obsessed with getting out whatever is in my skin. I’ve had bruises all across my chin many times before, from pressing so hard. I wear band-aids on my face about once a month because I’ll pick too much to cover up with make-up.

It gets worse when I’m stressed. If I have a presentation to give, or an important family dinner or something, you can bet I will be picking at my face the night before. I learned about cover-up a few years ago, and that has helped me “save face” in public a lot.

Before my discovery of cover-up, I did things like wear a turtle neck and pretend that I was so cold and tuck as much of my face into the turtle neck as possible. Or scarves. I would leave my hair down and keep my head tilted so my face would hopefully be as hidden as possible.

It’s unfortunately extremely rewarding. The moment of getting out whatever was in the skin is too powerful a reward to resist. Not to mention that sometimes my face hurts much less afterward, because acne is very uncomfortable. I don’t WANT to have scarred skin but I don’t know how to resist. I WANT to leave my face alone but I don’t seem able.

The trickiest time of all is when changing band-aids. I re-pick it nearly every time right between band-aids. If I could just get the new one on without looking in the mirror or touching the area at all, I’m sure I could put the new one on without first destroying the area all over again…

What would it take to remove the urge to pick at my skin? A month of not doing it? Six months? A year? Would it ever go away? How could I make it that long without doing it?

“If you do this again, it means you don’t love me.” Well, I did it for twenty minutes last night. You can’t guilt me into not-doing it, unfortunately. I’d love if that worked, too. But I’ve felt guilt about it since high school. Plus, my mom has tried many things to get me to stop. I’d pay someone to get me to stop. I’d wear electrodes if that would help.

Here’s a link for more reading.

Washing Dishes the OCD Way! (Topic#031)

Running Water

Running Water

This is not really how everyone with OCD washes dishes! Just me! This is meant to be a comical rendition (although it’s 100% true).

  1. Pull out your designated “kitchen” rubber gloves.
  2. Let the faucet water get warm (catch the cold water to use for house plants or pet dishes).
  3. If your sponge (or rag) has any odor or extreme discoloration, throw it out and pick up a new one (or pull out a freshly-laundered one).
  4. Either way, rinse the sponge thoroughly with water as hot as you can stand (referred to as “warm water” in the rest of this post, but is preferably slightly scalding).
  5. Place a drop of Earth-friendly dish soap on your sponge.
  6. Take a deep breath and assess the situation.
  7. Try to arrange things so that the larger bowls or pots are near the bottom and are going to collect soapy water (unless you already have a sink that plugs and is filled with warm, soapy water).
  8. If anything might have had raw meat juices (or raw egg) touch it, or is extremely greasy, place those aside for now. They won’t be going into the soapy water, and won’t be touching your sponge yet. Because you don’t want to contaminate the rest of the items.
  9. Let’s go with utensil for now, because it’s on top.
  10. Scrub your sponge over every part of the utensil. Make sure fabric gets between every tine or nook or cranny. The handle, the sides, the bottom, everything. Do it several times, just to be sure it is clean.
  11. Check it in the light and make sure all bits are smooth and nothing remains.
  12. If you have one side of the sink empty, place there and collect all scrubbed items there for now.
  13. If you don’t have one side of the sink for this purpose, go ahead and rinse your single utensil now.
  14. Do so over the bowls or tub so that it will collect your soapy water.
  15. After rinsing, check item in the light again and make SURE it is spotless.
  16. If it’s not spotless, go back to the scrubbing step.
  17. Place utensil in drying rack so that the part that touches your mouth faces upward and can certainly dry (or sideways, if that’s how your drying rack is designed).
  18. Continue with more utensils in the same manner.
  19. If you have a handful of the soapy utensils, go ahead and rinse them now.
  20. Hold them all under the faucet so you can pretend you are not wasting water.
  21. Make sure to spread each one individually beneath the running water to make sure all soap is removed.
  22. Make sure your gloves have no soap on them.
  23. Run your (gloved) fingers over each utensil as if helping to remove all soap, while rinsing.
  24. Place mouth-side up (or sideways) in dish drying rack.
  25. Spread items out and arrange as much as possible to allow optimal draining and drying.
  26. Continue on with the next item. It’s a Tupperware. Oh. No.
  27. Anywhere that the plastic pulls inward, spend extra time scrubbing.
  28. Anywhere that there may be a ring, indention, or groove, spend extra time scrubbing.
  29. Really make sure you fold a corner of your sponge and run it in along each groove, to make sure no bacteria remains there. Lids are especially challenging.
  30. Collect to the side or rinse as before.
  31. By now, you should have nice warm, soapy water collected in a bowl, pot, tub, sink or whatever.
  32. Place any remaining small items in that water to soak as you tackle the next, larger items.
  33. You can use that soapy water to wet your sponge and the item you’re working on.
  34. By now, it’s time to add another drop of soap to your sponge. Because the old soap is surely worn off.
  35. Repeat.
  36. Now you are done with all of the non-raw-meat dishes. It’s time to tackle the meat dishes.
  37. Now it’s okay to get the raw juices on your sponge and in the sink.
  38. If the item is extremely greasy, rinse first to spare all that grease from going into your sponge.
  39. (You have wiped off all excess grease, peanut butter, and other thick substances with your (gloved) fingers, to spare your sponge from getting dirty prematurely.)
  40. Scrub as before, and rinse, and use your (gloved) fingers as it feels right to “help” the cleaning along.
  41. Add more soap to your sponge.
  42. Keep scrubbing.
  43. Rinse for a very long time.
  44. When you are done with all dishes, now it’s time to rinse your sponge. A lot. Because of the meat juices.
  45. You’re almost done! Now it’s time to wash the sink itself, and the strainer, and the counters and any other place the meaty dishes might have touched.
  46. Do so by loading on more soap to your sponge.
  47. (If you have a different chemical you wish to use for this, do so, but remember to switch to a different, dedicated sponge for that chemical).
  48. Scrub.
  49. Rinse well.
  50. Keep rinsing, because you put way too much soap on that sponge.
  51. Now rinse rinse rinse your sponge again.
  52. Squeeze as much water out as you can, and place sponge where it has a chance to dry (NOT inside of your sink!!!).
  53. Hang your gloves so they can dry.
  54. If any drop of water got inside, hang them upside down so they can drain, too.
  55. Survey your work and feel pleased with the squeaky-cleanness of it.
  56. Go into another room where your living partner says, “How could that have taken you two hours??? How about I wash the dishes from now on and you put them away?!” Okay! ❤
  57. Two days later, go to grab a dish the other person cleaned, find a speck of food on it, don’t say anything, just set it back down and grab a different one…

**UPDATE** I forgot to mention the Tupperwares filled with moldy food! Either just throw them away or, if someone else is home, ask them to take care of it, outdoors. Mold spores are not to be breathed in. Maybe you can take care of it yourself, outdoors, if you have your gloves and a mask.

OCD: Living by the Rules: Numbers: Counting for Safety (Topic#030)

Boy, I really saved the harder/more embarrassing ones for last, didn’t I. Sheesh.

Fun with Numbers! (Part 4 of 4)

Counting for safety

Rainy Night

Rainy Night

Boy oh boy, here’s another tough one to explain! As a child, I had a lot of FEAR. I had a lot of ANXIETY. Without you understanding that, I don’t think the counting for safety can make any sense at all.

Because it was magical thinking at its finest. All to combat my intense, daily fear. I had lots of fear. But as long as I am counting, I’m “safe”. Safe from monsters and unfriendly aliens. I should never have been allowed to watch scary movies as a child. Truly.

So long as I am counting to a pre-determined number, I am safe. The rules explained through an example:

Let’s say I was in bed but had left my beloved stuffed animal dog downstairs by accident. I couldn’t leave my bed for fear of monsters taking over my body and sucking out my brain. I couldn’t be in the hallway. I couldn’t go downstairs. I couldn’t BE downstairs near midnight. I couldn’t be out of my room AT midnight (or the Monster of the Crawlspace would get me …Thanks for that one, Dad! 😉 ).

So I learned to combat it by counting. I had to set a number first. Let’s say, I chose 30. So I had til the count of 30 to get downstairs, find my stuffed dog, and return to bed. I could choose my counting speed at the start, but had to stay at that speed.

The FEAR. I would DIE if I did not count this right. I cannot describe to you the FEAR.

Same for showers. I was afraid to close my eyes in the shower, for fear that tentacles would come up and suck out my brain. So if I had to close my eyes for shampooing, the only way was to count to the preset number at the preset speed.

I missed many times, and was SURE I was going to die at any second. I was SO. SCARED.

I learned a work-around. I said it would be good-luck if I missed by exactly HALF the original number or hit DOUBLE the original number (or TRIPLE, QUADRUPLE, Etc). That helped a lot.

I used counting to get me through any situation where I thought I might die. But I felt safe so long as I was counting.

Now-a-days? I’m not sure if I do this anymore or not. I try not to get to the point of such extreme anxiety that I would need the counting to protect me. Also, I have anxiety medicine as a back-up measure now.