One, two, three, four; one, two, three four; Why can't I stop counting my steps? The "demon" that caused me to do these repetitive tasks appeared when I had just started sixth grade. It was uncontrollable and was picking away at my very existence. The move to middle school had put a mountain of stress on my shoulders. That weakened me enough to allow the dormant "demon" to take control of me.
At first I was not aware of what was happening to me. There was a powerful compelling force inside me, tearing me apart from the inside out. I continuously repeated the same daunting tasks over and over again until they felt right. My mind kept telling me, my hands were not clean and I lost count how many times a day I washed them. I felt like billions of germs were eating them away. Like an infant bird falling from its nest into a river full of piranhas, where the fish clean it to the bones in minutes. My hands got so dry that sometimes they would crack and bleed. Putting lotion on my hands only caused them to burn intensely; I wanted to tear off my skin. Tying my shoes before school seemed endless. The lace ends had to be perfectly lined up and equal, so I was constantly retying them until they were just right. Then my back would start to ache from having to lean over for so long. This process took up to half an hour, making me late for school. Walking became a constant battle; I had to count my steps and if I miscounted, I had to walk back to where I started and begin again. My numerous rituals delayed me getting to bed well past midnight, resulting in my missing four straight days of the third week of school. I wondered how something so terrible could happen to me.
These repeated tasks had a draining effect on me psychologically and had started to take their toll. I was in a constant state of depression, I felt if had dug myself into a dark hole that could not go any deeper. My eyes were always dry and brittle from the constant uncontrollable crying. Because of all the time I spent focused on rituals, I was not meeting new students and making friends. I felt like an outcast to society and a burden on those I love. I even had thoughts of suicide, though I would never do it, the idea laid strongly in the back of my mind. I was constantly weak and sluggish I did not want to leave my bed, because I was afraid the urges inside of me, might drive me to the edge, of no return.
My mother, recognizing the symptoms, immediately took me to a specialist in Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I learned OCD episodes can start or be triggered by unbearable stress or by enormous changes. Also, I learned OCD could not be cured, but controlled. Slowly the therapist taught me how to tame the "demon" with the aid of Cognitive Therapy and medication. The sessions were intense and brutal; I could not watch my mother cry anymore, since she felt hopeless to help me. One of the most agonizing sessions, was learning to tie my shoes without the laces being perfect. Over and over again I tied and untied them until I could do it with little anxiety.
The OCD also gave me obsessive slowness and perfectionism. Make-up and current school assignments were a slow struggle as my words had to be written and spaced neatly. My papers would end up with more scratch marks than words. It would take me hours to complete an assignment that should have only taken fifteen minutes. The demon had "wired me awake, And hit me with a hand of broken nails, You tied my lead and pulled my chain, To watch my blood begin to boil, But I'm gonna break, I'm gonna break my, I'm gonna break my rusty cage and run." Slowly, with the help of understanding teachers, determination, and self-control, I began to overcome most of my compulsions. By the end of middle school, the work was less strenuous and I did not regret waking up every morning. Throughout high school I could feel my improvement as each year went by. I did well my freshman year and even better my sophomore year. My junior year was the ultimate proof I was doing better, when I received an Academic Excellence Award.
Today the "demon" still lies inside my head trying everyday to regain control. It will never fully go away, and I have learned to control it and realize that this no longer be one of my greatest adversaries. I have fought hard to overcome difficulties and to do my best in school. Even thought OCD has had many negative effects on me, it has made me stronger. Everyday setbacks do not seem to bother me as much. I know that I will continue to have control over the "demon."