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An Ordinary Day: A Stream of Consciousness from a Woman with OCD

She wakes before her husband. Sets an alarm for 0500. Writes in military time because it feels cooler and saves the .001 seconds it takes to write out the designations of "AM" or "PM." She takes a swig from a bottle of apple cider vinegar because she read in a book once it was the thing to do. She pictures the vinegar killing the germs inside her.

She hates germs. Can feel them multiplying on her skin when she goes out, opens every door with the sleeve of her coat. Wears coats when it’s 80 degrees, 90 degrees. Farenheit. The paltry shield comes with.

She doesn’t wash her hands until they bleed anymore, which is good. The cracks have healed where the skin dried and split open. She remembers those days. The pain. Unable to stop the urges, the obsessive compulsions. She’d wash her arms after every trip to the lavatory, touch of a cabinet door, remote control... Up to the elbows to feel safe. She knew what others didn’t. Every four minutes, they were multiplying. It’s simple binary fission. With much wisdom cometh much suffering. She would rather bleed than entertain the microbial guests. OUT DAMNED SPOT!

She got better in her more advanced years. Did away with her magic wand—a UV light sanitizer wand she asked for from her mother for Christmas during undergrad when she took a course in microbiology to better Know Thine Enemy. She was the bringer of light—UVC radiation to commit her germicidal warfare.

No, she sold her therapeutics, entered the workforce, got married, had no children petri dishes and moved to another country. Another continent.

She washes her hands what-she-thinks-is-a-reasonable-amount now. Not to the elbows. Just above the wrist.

Now she picks at the skin along her nail folds when her mind aimlessly wanders, when she’s nervous, when she’s sedentary. Never when she’s running. She runs half-marathons some mornings.

She softly, but firmly scolds herself out loud for trying to rip the skin. She’s a psychotherapist too. Should have more sense than that. She’s living the dream, loves her husband, her work and her play. Her demons have been strength training in the basement of her mind. Here they come after years of neglect. Stronger than ever. They want her to kill herself. For no good reason, simply because it’s Thursday. She gets quiet and her husband wonders if he’s done anything wrong.

No, she reassures him. Tells him a few secrets about the war inside. He sits quietly there with her. The demons don’t much care for his presence. He makes things difficult. She wants to destroy herself, but knows he won’t let her. He shouldn’t have to deal with this, she thinks. She knows she’s being ridiculous. But the thought train keeps rolling. Die. Die. DIE. DIE! Just kill yourself. Just do it. End this.

The rational mind stirs up the demons with its logic—you lead a good life. Stop this nonsense. You are not going to kill yourself. It’s not in alignment with your values. You have much to look forward to. Nothing is actually wrong…..

The demons retort, “Your values? You don’t live up to them perfectly. You worship us. You say you love your husband, but he’s second fiddle. See the pain you cause, stupid girl. You really ought to just die. Just die. Just die.

The rational mind dialogues: You’re being so stupid. Stupid. Stupid. These thoughts are stupid.....


She hurls herself into work. They won’t find her there. And if they do, she won’t look at them.

She drinks down a tablespoon of Organski All in One Mix. 40 super proizvoda u jednom (Serbian green powder).

There is madness in her methods. More than there is method to her madness. Insidious, the psychological immune system.

She takes off her wedding ring before every run. She feels guilty for it. Doesn’t want to lose it out there in the land of entropy. She checks to see if her ring is still there on the stone ledge where she left it.

Did it fall down the drain? No. Roll beneath the washer? No. Did I accidentally flush it? No. Did the ring fall off when I was tossing the rubbish in the dumpster? ... She checks. No. Still there.

We suffer more in imagination than in reality, and don't I know it.

Coming clean: She is me. Mrs. Duplicitous.

"For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do."

- Apostle Paul in the Book of Romans

She showers. Hair first. The filth streaks down the body and is washed away. The face next. The soap residue and grime from the hair must be scrubbed. The cloth for the face must not be subject to the despicable filth of the body. Then the ears, the neck, shoulders, back, torso, arms, underarms, legs, and the most unsavory intimate parts, then, lastly, the feet.

It must be so. This is The Way.

The sacred and serious rituals of self-preservation..

Sometimes, I'd like to wash my brain.

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