I can only eat ‘safe’ food from a list of six things, and not if anyone has touched it. My hands will never be clean.
As a child I would obsessively make sure things were ‘even’ – on my walk to school, alternate feet had to be the first to land on each feature of the road on alternate days. If I had an itch on one arm I had to itch the other in the same place in the same way. If one of my feet scraped or caught on the ground then I had to repeat the same action in the same way with the other foot (I still find myself doing this sometimes – it’s usually my first clue that I’m getting stressed out). Not doing these things just left me feeling so wrong and anxious I couldn’t relax until I had made things even.
My OCD solidified into obsessions about germs and food poisoning when I was a teenager. I was terrified of being sick. It eventually led to borderline anorexia. At 18 I was given medication, and have been taking it ever since. Even still, when I get stressed or unwell I’m unable to eat foods which aren’t on the ‘safe’ list and have to repeatedly wash my hands (then the taps, then the soap dispenser, then the handles…). My brain is keeping a constant log of what I have touched and when, and at what point I need to wash my hands or use antibacterial hand gel, which I carry with me always. My ‘safe’ food list is: bread; pasta; instant ‘just add boiling water’ snacks; crisps; cereal; potatoes.
I manage my OCD, but I resent it. It is exhausting and isolating, and combined with my other mental illnesses it can at times be overwhelming.
Categories: The Wall