The strokes were even, a beat to a silent song. Each swipe of the broom broke the stillness.
Do something. Stop her.
I watched as she went over the same spot. Again.
It doesn’t take twenty minutes to sweep a tiny hallway. You need to step in.
The broom danced, knowing the steps by heart, a deep-seeded ritual. But her eyes…
Her eye-lids were open, but the door to her thoughts was slammed shut – her mind swept away by her OCD.
You’re procrastinating. You went to therapy with her. You know what to do now. You aren’t helpless.
My shoulders tightened with resolve.
I could do this.
“What are you doing, Bobbi?”
“I’m fine.” Her words brushed me away.
“Why are you sweeping the floor?”
“It isn’t clean. It’s wrong.”
I glanced at the tiles. Every last speck and crumb had long been swept away. “What happens if it’s wrong, Bobbi?”
Her eyes fired at me, annoyance painted over her features. “Then it isn’t right.”
“What happens if it isn’t right?”
Another laser beam shot my way. “If it isn’t right, it’s wrong. Bad stuff will happen.”
“What will happen?”’
“People will die.” She snapped the words.
“Is my broom all-powerful?”
She paused in the rhythm. “What?”
“Do I own a magical broom?”
“So tell me how my non-magical broom can make people die?
She stopped, her glare trying to make me disappear.
“It’s… It’s… It has to be right.”
What was I supposed to do when I reached the morbid obsession?
Would it be okay to be funny?
“So what you’re saying is, I miraculously bought an all-powerful broom capable of deciding who lives and who dies?”
And there it was. A giggle. “No. Yes.”
Maybe I could help her after all.
* * * * *
In “On Writing” Stephen King wrote, “The scariest moment is always just before you start. After that, things can only get better.”
Write a memoir post – first-person and true – inspired by that statement.
* * * * *
This post is about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD).
What I did with Bobbi is called “exposure”, a very important part of helping someone with OCD.
This was the first time I ever tried to do one and I was afraid I’d screw it up right until I got her to laugh.
That was five years ago.
OCD has no cure. It never stops.
But it can be controlled.
Tonight I somehow did an exposure while instant messaging with her, and she was so into her thought loop, she didn’t catch on until the very end.
It’s gotten a lot easier as I’ve improved and learned how best to help her.
October 10 – 16 is National OCD Awareness Week.
OCD, like many mental health diseases, is very misunderstood because people are misinformed about it. They base much of their knowledge on TV shows, the only exposure they have to it.
So please, please, read this post about the Top 10 Things People Say About OCD That Are Likely To Hit a Hot Button just because of ignorance and misinformation.
Pass it on. Share it on Facebook. Tweet it.
Help me spread OCD Awareness this week.
Feel free to leave concrit as well about this piece.