Obsessive Crumb Disorder
Written by Casey Douglass
This piece was written for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) awareness week 2015. I hope it is a way for non-sufferers to get an idea of how easy it is for anyone to slip into OCD.
You are walking home through the forest, following the path you always do. You are tired; it's been a long day. A deer shoots across your path making you flinch in surprise, your heart racing. Silly deer! you think to yourself. You walk on, the twilight of sunset casting strange shadows on the leaf-strewn ground. What if I'm lost and I don't know it? No, that's just silly! I walk home this way every day! A feeling of unease grows inside you as you walk on, going left past the knobbly tree, or should it have been right? You live with these thoughts all the way home.
The next day you have a day off work but decide to go for a walk and to take a picnic to eat in the forest. You like the forest, it's lovely this time of year! No sooner have you crossed into its leafy embrace when you remember your fears of the day before. Being quite bright, you stand and try to work things out. Okay, I know it was a silly thought but I still feel like crap. Maybe..maybe I could use some bread from my sandwiches to mark my path home. I won't be long enough for the birds to eat them so yes! That's what I'll do! You pull a smidgen of bread from your sandwich and, thinking to thwart the breeze, press it into the crack in the bark of a nearby tree. Feeling a little happier, you go on your way, leaving bread in all the right places. You still feel anxious, anxious enough not to fancy eating much of your second sandwich when you stop at the meadow in the middle. This upsets you, you hardly ever are off your food.
As you head back home, another thought crashes into your mind. How do I know I'm following MY bread trail? What? As if there would be more than once person doing that at the same time! What if someone left a trail and they never found it? You might find their trail and meet the same end they did! You see a crumb in a tree and walk up to it. Check the bread. You lift your uneaten sandwich and compare the colour of the crumbs. Looks the same but still, someone might have just bought the same bread as you! Your heart is pounding. Maybe check how the bread feels? You roll a crumb from the tree between one thumb and forefinger while you do the same for one from your sandwich in the others. Does it feel the same? Yes I think so. I'm not sure though. I'll find another tree and try another crumb, just to be sure! Day turns to night, warm turns to cold and light turns to dark. You do get home in the end, but any thought of entering the forest again fills you with such dread that you think you might never go in there again. You sob a little. You don't feel well, and what is that rattling coming from the washing machine? Does it always do that? You'd better check, just in case.
This story was written to illustrate how easily fatigue, shock (the deer) and a random thought that becomes hard to shake can give birth to an entire head full of catastrophe and fear. Just a day in the life of an OCD sufferer. Think before you take it too lightly, it's not a life style choice, it's a mental prison sentence. Visit here for more info on OCD: OCD UK.