Reading Trista’s recent post on National Weird day, she discussed her OCD.
We all joke about OCD like symptoms. However, if you have ever lived with someone truly diagnosed with this disorder, you would know. Because they will drive you batty, well in my experience any way. This got me to thinking about my step-grandmother.
My mom and dad divorced when I was 5. Around the age of 6 or 7, my dad remarried. One day, the family was having dinner and someone was teasing me. So my stepmom jumped in claiming, at least, I wasn’t like her mom, each bite she had to chew 10X before swallowing. Grandma Jo laughed, and said
“Not necessarily true…sometimes I have to chew more than that. I need to ensure my steak is thoroughly chewed before swallowing. Damn-it! Now you made me lose count and I have to start all over again.”
That was my first introduction to OCD. That was fine and dandy, because I didn’t care how long it took her to finish her meals, then. However, in my 10th summer, Grandma Jo was the main care taker while my dad and stepmom were working. That was shortly after my half-brother was born.
My stepmom decided to do cloth diapers and rubber pants. Ugh. Do you know how long it would take for Grandma Jo to wipe up after poopy? Poor Jason’s privates were red from 10x of wiping, missing a tiny fleck of something and starting the count all over again. Then the folding and ensuring no gaps… 10X. Then pinning the diaper, checking each pin 10 times and making me check to ensure “It’s not going to poke him. It’s not going to poke him, it’s not going to poke him. It is closed. It is closed.” to just lift him up and see a huge gap between his leg and private area and having to go through the whole process all over again! Then 10x times of checking the rubber pants to ensure everything was sealed on both legs. And everything was repeated out loud.
Finally, the diaper changing would be completed, and we’d exit the room. She had to ensure the light switch was down to turn the light off… “that light switch is off, that light switch is off…Sandi, look at this, the light switch is off.” My 10 year old-self audibly groaned “YES, IT’S OFF.” Which would distract her and we’d have to do count all over again. She made me stand with her and do it. I learned very quickly not to distract.
I think it took almost 30 minutes to change Jason’s diaper. I have creamer in my coffee, I have creamer in my coffee…my cup is there and won’t fall…the clothes are in the dryer, the dry is on…the dishes are in the rack and will not fall. That hot water is off. The bottle is warm and not hot. Faaaaawwwwk. This is not the person you want watching a pre-teen who isn’t used to the personality disorder.
My stepmom would come home and inquire what we did each day. Oh, we changed 10 diapers, did the dishes, took out the trash, watched t.v. We might have played aggravation (which was truly aggravating each time she counted and left her finger on the marble to ensure it wasn’t going to roll away… or rummy where she left her finger on discarded card for the count of 10, but usually, it was television.)
Watching T.V. was my only reprieve. She didn’t count everything… aloud anyway. That’s when she would go out and smoke. That cigarette is lit, that cigarette is out. As she would grind it back-n-forth into the ashtray 10X and bring it in to the trashcan, and open the lid to stare inside and say “that butt is in the trash and not burning anything.” That gave me about 30 minutes of freedom.
“Can we say it faster, or like in math class…say that light is off X10! Or to the 10th power? And call it good?”
She laughed. At least, she had a sense of humor about everything taking 10 times longer.
So anyone that truly suffers from this disorder, my heart goes out to you and your family. Maybe find a way to reduce your count. Only 2x maybe? And if it’s an extended family member, please don’t have them babysit your 10 year old. It’s just not nice. Or maybe a good punishment. “Don’t make me leave you with Grandma Jo.” NO…for the love of God, anything, but that torture!