I sat in the therapist’s office. Coat on. Hands in pockets.
‘So, what can I help you with?’
I’ve already clocked the box of tissues to the left of me and wonder how many boxes she goes through every week. Does she bulk-buy? Anyway, we go through the usual questions like, ‘On a level of one to ten, how has your anxiety affected you in the last two weeks and are you about to top yourself?’
No, I don’t want to top myself. I just need some help in lowering my anxiety levels from 10 to a 5, ta.
My eyes struggle to connect with hers. I’m way too anxious so I stare at the carpet, which is clean and has no pattern. Good. Because I’m in no mood to be coping with patterns and stains..
‘I don’t think we will have enough hours to address all my stuff.’
‘Well, just start with what’s easiest, OK?’
I blurt out, ‘I HAVE INTRUSIVE THOUGHTS’.
Pen poised, the therapist replied, ‘Really? In what way?’
I gave her the example of the hour before when I was partaking of a cup of coffee with OH in Costa. The sun was shining outside and there were only a few people in so I wasn’t overwhelmed. I felt relatively happy. Yep, I can do happy. Just as I acknowledged the happy feeling, a thought clouded my mind..
What if masked men burst in now and started to shoot?
My body reacted as if it was real, not that I’ve been in many hostage situations, thankfully.
Next thought was my son who was at school. Then my grown up boys. Adrenalin flooded my body and my undigested sausage bap was in danger of doing an encore. You get me?
Then I remembered that it wasn’t real..
‘Calm down, nutcase, it’s just your mind being a bastard again. You KNOW this. Drink your coffee, there’s a good fruitcake.’
It was just a thought that had barged it’s way into my mind when I was feeling calm. One of millions of irrational thoughts over my 47 years. Even though I knew it wasn’t real, it threw me. Maybe I need to lay off on the police dramas?
I comforted myself with the thought, ‘What’s the likelihood of Costa being raided? What are they going to say, ‘Everybody on the floor and give me all your muffins?’ Then I researched it and there has actually been such an incident, only they were after money, not muffins. It was prior to opening and thankfully, nobody was hurt. I guess wherever there is money, there is motive..
See, I have this problem with safety. I can’t remember when it started but I’ve definitely done it for the majority of my life. It’s to do with fire, mostly. I have a thing about the house burning down so I have to check plugs and sockets.
Then I have to check them again.
I’ve noticed it’s worse when I’m stressed. The other day I literally couldn’t satisfy myself that I’d turned my straighteners off, despite me holding the disconnected plug in my hand. Then, I have to touch candle wicks to make sure they are cold and sometimes I stick them under the tap to be EXTRA sure. Once upon a time, I taped up all the knobs on my gas cooker in-case they turned themselves on while I was out because everybody knows, cookers can do that, right? I blame that one on surge in pregnancy hormones but I have been known to turn the electric cooker off too. You can gauge my anxiety on how many things I turn off but even on my best day – sockets, plugs, windows and doors are a given.
I refuse to go out and leave things charging up, like phones and Kindles. There’s, like, NO WAY I can do that. OH struggles to understand it. He says it knackers the batteries. I tell him, ‘Battery or insanity, mate, your choice’.
To get out of the house, I have a routine of going round and checking all doors, windows and sockets. If the chain of thought is broken with ONE of these things, I have to go and check them ALL again. Thankfully, I’m not incapacitated by it. I’ve often thought it would be easier to say sod it and stay in but that’s a road I know I don’t want to go down. I have my ritual. As long as I do this, I cope.
I don’t know why I do it. There isn’t a logical explanation for it. There has never been anything to justify it as far as I am aware of. No fires. No burglaries. I’m just a loon, innit?
With this is mind, I often wonder how I managed to be a school caretaker and NOT go totally gaga? I still have dreams about doing my ‘checks’. The alarm was the worst thing because I would convince myself I hadn’t set it so I would go back again and again. I’ve gone back to the school late at night because I’ve convinced myself I haven’t set it. Of course, I always had. It’s a wonder I wasn’t arrested for acting suspiciously! On the positive side, having a security obsessed loon as a caretaker isn’t such a bad thing as in ten years of service I was never called out to the alarm going off. No window or door was EVER left unlocked on my watch.
There seems to be some confusion regarding repetitive behaviours of autism and OCD..
Basically repetitive autistic behaviour, like stimming, is comforting. I stroke my little furry (NOT a euphemism) because it comforts me and picking scabs is on par to a decent orgasm in my book.
OCD, however, is anxiety driven. The fear that something will go catastrophically wrong if I don’t touch my plugs ‘n’ stuff. I am autistic, but I obviously have OCD too, it’s just never been diagnosed because I’ve never sought help for it. Nor has anybody ever suggested I get help. Mostly, they are amused or frustrated by it. Maybe now is the time to address it? In for a penny, in for a pound, I say.
What’s the betting that my therapist will go off on the sick after she’s finished with me?
A slice of fruitcake says she does.