Have you ever done something out of impulse? Something so stupid and really pointless in the grand scheme of things, but you just had to do it? Or has something really trivial annoyed you to such an extent that you were equally –or doubly– annoyed with yourself for how much it irritated you? Did you almost feel a little crazy because of this thing you did or saw?
I’ve suffered from OCD since I was about twelve-years-old. On good days, it’s a minor nuisance. On bad days, it can cause anxiety and panic attacks so bad that you feel like the whole world is out to get you. Though my last relationship ended for multiple reasons, one of the contributing factors from my end was how bad my OCD had been during that time. My biggest obsession is self-cleanliness, particularly my hands. My compulsion –in other words, how I deal with it– is to wash my hands so thoroughly that I look like a surgeon preparing for the OR. I know this is what it looks like because of the countless people who have made this joke in public restrooms. And I carry hand sanitizer around with me, so I am always prepared for the possibility of soap and water not being readily available. It’s become to me what an inhaler is to an asthma patient, even if only to help me breathe easier just knowing I have it on me in case it’s needed.
Other “obsessions” are just things that annoy me. They’re pet-peeves that get to me more than they probably should. Like when I see someone write “should of” or “could of” instead of “should’ve/should have” or “could’ve/could have.” Or when people don’t feel that Oxford commas are necessary. However, there are times where I know I’m being completely unreasonable, and the rational voice in my brain that tries its hardest to help me function as close to standard normalcy as possible clashes with the part of me that wants to scream or punch things because of a small grammatical error (that I am sure I’ve made, myself, before) or something along the same vein. One such incident happened to me recently.
My brother received a small amount of money and told me that he would be sending me a portion through PayPal. However, it would take a couple of days for his check to fully clear. In the meantime, he bought dinner that night and used his card to pay for the order. I can only assume that he had placed it on the coffee table after he completed the transaction. At some point, it managed to get placed on an end table by one of my books, which blocked it from view. Ironically, I now realize that I probably saw it just sitting there and absent-mindedly placed it by my book to make sure we didn’t lose it.
We each searched for the card once my brother realized that it was missing later that night. We overturned couch cushions, threw pillows around, and rearranged boxes packed with belongings ready for our move, but we could not find this card anywhere. He checked his wallet at least five times. I checked mine on the off chance that I had placed it in there, considering our cards are the same color. When we continuously turned up nothing, we began to panic.
Because it was late and we each had to be up early the next morning, we decided to resume our search when we each returned home the following night. Much of the same happened until I glanced over by the book, which I hadn’t touched since the card had gone missing, and I saw the shining logo of the credit card company on it. After I pulled the card out, we were both relieved, and my brother sat down to send me the money. He told me he wrote a note on it and to let him know when I checked my account.
For the sake of this story, I’ll say he was going to send me $20. The next day, I logged onto my account and saw that he sent me $19.99. The note he wrote on it stated that “the bank” deducted one cent as a charge for losing his card. I had two instantaneous and entirely opposite reactions to seeing this. The first was to laugh, because I thought it was really funny. The second was to hyper-focus on that 99 cents and stew in my irritation over the incompleteness of it.
The rational side of my brain said, “That was a cute joke!”
The OCD said, “Why would he do this to me!?” In some ways, although I was irritated, the dramatic nature of this thought made me laugh more.
I sent him a text alerting him that I checked my account and the predicament in which I now found myself; all at once entirely amused and so irritated that I almost began scratching the armrests of my chair. He responded with, “Hahaha I’M SORRY!!”
I told him that, even though it was funny, it wasn’t funny at all. A couple of minutes later, he told me to check my account again. He sent me the remaining cent and attached a note that “upon further review, the bank will waive the fee.” Seeing just the one cent there also annoyed me, but nowhere near as much. I began laughing again when I tried to transfer it to my bank, only to discover that the lowest amount I could send was a dollar. I sent another text telling him that the penny was now in limbo and it was all his fault. His response made me laugh harder, because now he was irritated by the penny having to stay in “purgatory.”
In our irritation, we initially had a little bit of difficulty coming up with a plan. He asked if I just wanted him to send 99 cents. I told him I just wanted the penny and that would leave me with a dollar more.
“So just give me a GOD DAMN SINGLE!!” he sent back to me.
At this point, I was laughing uncontrollably at the sheer ridiculousness of the situation. I told him that didn’t make sense, because that would mean I still wouldn’t get the penny. Mind you, I don’t care about not having a penny, but at this point, it was just the principle of the matter. That poor, lone cent was trapped and by God, I would rescue it. In the end, he sent me a full dollar so that I could transfer the funds and give him the dollar bill to make it even.
I once read a fortune on a Bazooka Joe comic strip that said, “Happy is the one that can look in the mirror and laugh.” Although my OCD causes me a great deal of distress most of the time, I am able to occasionally take a step back and look at silly situations like this that it plays a part in creating, and genuinely find it hilarious. I was annoyed, but I had a good laugh, and I’ll take all the laughs I can.
Whereas I can’t say that I’m grateful for my OCD, nor will I raise a glass to toast it any time soon, I do sincerely enjoy the few moments like this where there is levity and humor that would not have happened if not for its presence.
Jack Mason, 2017