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"Counting My Steps" - OCD Personal Narrative for a Formal Essay assignment

ndushaj01 1 / -  
Oct 2, 2017   #1
I have a formal Personal Narrative essay due This Friday, and I just need anyone's feedback at this point. Thanks :-)

Counting My Steps

I almost always wake up in the morning with my own whirlwind of irrational thoughts and emotions churning in my head. Before I leave the house to go to my first lecture after a typical daily routine, I ponder these same questions:

What day is it today? What time is it? Did I forget anything-did I forget anything? Okay. I have my keys, my wallet, my phone, books, headphones, am I missing anything?

I check around five times in my room to make sure that I did not forget any necessities, while fixing any kind of wrinkle on my bed sheets during the process. I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) at the age of twelve. Little before my diagnosis, I complete the same daunting tasks repetitively until they felt right- felt right. OCD also gave me obsessive slowness and perfectionism. It is like a song stuck in my head except it is plagued with repetitive thoughts and anxiety. I still have those cringe-worthy flashbacks when I check ten to fifteen times to make sure that my answers on a test were accurate, which wastes a quarter of my time. Even tying my shoes before I leave the house seems endless, and I have to make sure that they are perfectly clean.

Okay, I did it. I made sure that the door was locked. Did I count the times I shut the door? One, two, or three? Am I missing anything? I got my keys, my wallet, my phone, my books: keys, wallet, phone, books-books. Got it. I have everything I need.

I also have this numerical pattern that correlates with whatever I observe in the world around me: for example, as I walk to school I count how many square pavements there are in one block after another. I count to myself how many metal bars one of my neighbors has surrounding their backyard:

One, two, three, four, five, left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot! Okay-always end the pattern of each block pavement with the right foot with an even amount of steps. Whatever I do, do NOT touch the cracks. That's bad. I yearn for a perfect and clean surface to walk by.

I put on my headphones and listen to music wherever I go, and restart a catchy song around five to ten times at a certain minute and second of that song. I have the tendency to listen to Albanian music if not rock music as essential tools to cope with my obsessive behavior. I usually listen to traditional Albanian music since it is more dopamine-producing than any other music since its about my identity. It helps me appreciate the diversity of the different cultures and helps me think about the world in a different way. Two-stringed guitars (cifteli), drums, flutes: International music in general is a learning process for me, ranging from different languages to basic skills. I walk on the white-striped pavements that intertwine with both sides of the street coated with scalloped edges of scuff marks:

♪ Ne dasmen time ti zemra ime-watch out for the rock Nicholas what are you doing?-eja e mos vono-One, two, three, four, five, six, seven. Don't walk off the white pavement-Ndonse na ndan bashk nuk na lane trego se ende me do. ♪


I happen to notice that every year my OCD progressively gets worse. In other words, my symptoms intensify like someone is putting more fuel to the fire, and new ones show up. Although it negatively affects my daily life from tying my shoes to my academic performance, I grow a stronger perception of the world around me. I walk through Central Park on my way to the train station, and I notice something that satisfied me more than anything else. Central Park shows true beauty without modifications, falseness, and exaggerations: colorful flowers, green hills, boulders, crystal-clear lakes-crystal-CLEAR lakes, fragrant trees perfuming the air neglecting small volume of disgusting smoke from the urban life of New York City.

It just felt easier for me to walk through a park temporarily isolating myself from the urban environment. I count my footsteps while the leaves crunch between my shoes and the pavement; the sound is calm and satisfying like classical music. Birds on top of the branch of magnolia trees singing their favorite songs-it would aggravate me if I don't be part of their audience and not listen to the rest.

OCD allows me to connect with nature in a more engaging way. Getting back to the urban and cultural environment, OCD gave me a sense of awe in understanding how the world works, and it also gave me a sense of security. When I go home from a stressful day of work or school, I would know that my family and I would not have to worry about burglary because I definitely locked the door six to seven times with both locks. I also developed an automysophobia with a dash of hypochondriasis due to me being obsessed with shows like Monsters Inside Me and Grey's Anatomy. After an episode or two of Monsters Inside Me or Grey's Anatomy, I would fear of getting sick and I would feel dirty if I don't wash my hands around ten times a day since I don't want any parasites or any disease living in my body.

OCD gives me a stronger bond with friendships: I memorize the first day I met a friend and how we grow with each other, I memorize his or her birthday and phone number, and I get irritated if a friend does not feel good. I don't hesitate to give my best friend Ethan a pair of Versace shoes for his birthday, and I don't hesitate to buy my mother a birthday necklace for putting a roof over my head and supporting me. Nature with Science in general with a dash of obsessive compulsion, friendship, and family values helped shape my curiosity and my level of empathy for others, and I am willing to take it into account, and count my steps onto the real world.
TJLuschen - / 241 203  
Oct 3, 2017   #2
Hi, I liked the start of your essay much more than the ending. In fact, in my opinion, your essay does not really have a real ending, it just seems to sort of peter out. Overall, I think your essay needs a little more organization, or maybe a lot more :) . I would like to see a clear beginning, middle and end. Here your outline seems to be to me:

1. Dealing with OCD in a typical day
2. How music helps me
3. This part is very unorganized - I guess, my OCD is getting worse / enjoying nature
4. OCD helps me feel more secure
5. OCD gives me stronger friendships

I think showing how OCD affects you on a typical day is a great start, but you need to have some sort of structure and place for your essay to go after that - does that make sense? You have some great sentences and you seem like a talented writer, but your essay is so scattered that the overall effect to me is a sort of confusing sequence of thoughts.

The whole music section (paragraph 7) doesn't seem to tie in very well with the OCD theme of your essay. Try to explain how listening to music helps you cope with your OCD - does it take your mind off that for a little while when you get lost in the music? Is Albanian music better at distracting you? Or is music connected in some other way with your OCD? - I can't really answer that question just based on your essay. Paragraph 8 is better, but I still think you need to show the connection a little more explicitly. Once again, you switch to the nature topic and the connection to OCD is faintly there, but I wish it was stronger with a little more explanation. What exactly is it about the sound and the birds and the beauty that helps you cope with OCD, or how exactly does your OCD allow you to connect with this nature more easily? That is confusing to me and I can't really answer it from reading your essay. Also maybe you should explain automysophobia - it is a very technical term that I and probably most people have not encountered.

I do really like the counting and the word duplicates: books-books, 1, 2, 3, locked-locked-locked. These jump out at me while reading and constantly remind me of how you must be feeling by have to repeat things a certain number of times.
Holt  Educational Consultant - / 14,662 4753  
Oct 3, 2017   #3
Nicholas, when you type words written in a foreign language you must always include the English translation in a parenthesis because the reviewer needs to know what the words mean. In this case, the lyrics obviously mean something important otherwise you would not have included in the your presentation for that portion of the essay. Make sure you create a translation for it before you submit the essay.

Here is the thing about the personal narrative essay that you wrote. It is too one dimensional in approach. The point of view is always from your end, never showing how you interact with people, how people react to your OCD, and what you think when they tell you certain things. In any narrative, it is important that you learn how to use dialogue to move the story along instead of just using the first person point of view. An interesting narrative is one that engages the reader by create scenes, interactions between characters, and repartee that helps to remove the sense of boredom that constantly telling a reader tends to create.

You can still use the first person point of view for this presentation. Only this time, add some other characters that help to depict your OCD experience over a period of time. Maybe involve just your parents or include your siblings. Add characters that can help you to better illustrate your narrative through action rather than just words. That creates a more interesting, engaging, and reflective presentation for your narrative.

By the way, place the OCD diagnosis at the top of the essay. The definition should be first because it is what sets up the whole narrative that is to follow. Make the thought that enter your head in the morning the second paragraph instead as well it should be.

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