In a Whirlwind of Numbers

My Journey Out of the Confines of a Considerably Severe Case of OCD

   Life In A Whirlwind of Numbers by David W. Dahlberg was a book I did not want to admit would be beneficial for me to read when I came to terms with the fact that I was living with a severe case of OCD. At the same time, it was comforting—in some bitterly helpless way—to know that there were other people out there who also lived life in confining rituals and routines.

   When most people hear the term “OCD,” they often imagine every pair of shoelaces needing to be properly tied and the shoes needing to be stored in the correct order. Unfortunately, most people severely underestimate OCD… and what it could do to a person like me.

   For years, starting before I can remember, I would do what I always called “doing something a certain number of times.” I did anything from walking back and forth five times to rearranging pillows eight times, to closing a door three times, for no apparent reason in the eyes of everyone else.

   I was often tasked with trying to answer the obvious question I always received: “Why are you doing that? It’s weird.” Instead of answering this question, which I admittedly did not know the answer to, I cried… lots of nights.

   I would spend an hour on a ten-minute homework assignment, writing until the page was covered in graphite. I would make sure that all the poorly written letters in words were fixed to my liking.

   All the while, every question and every homework assignment bore into me and never stopped. I was trying to claw myself out of a hole that had no apparent escape.

   I went to a psychologist to help me manage my OCD, but I did not find her helpful. After all, it is rare to find a person who truly does understand people.

   Gradually, I found my way out of that hole, out of the whirlwind of numbers. I began to explore my interests; by getting into politics, reading, academic writing, cars, building contraptions for fun, and playing tennis more, I could focus on what really mattered in order to ignore my OCD.

   I still love all of these things, and they still prevent me from falling back into the hands of OCD. I can still see the whirlwind in the distance, but it looks a lot smaller when the joys of life are kept front and center.

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