I suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder. Horrible thoughts fill my head due to a brain abnormality. These foreign thoughts are difficult to differentiate from my actual thoughts. Every day is hell. Medications have kept me from becoming institutionalized. They partially correct my chemical imbalance. This partial correction enables me to use my intellect to battle this disorder. Every prescription has the same downside. Sooner or later, the medication becomes ineffective. I have tried just about every applicable medication over the course of 20 years. Only a few have worked. I now take Paroxetine. It is only a matter of time before my body inhibits it. This could happen tomorrow or 25 years from now. I don’t foresee a cure in my lifetime. I don’t consider it a cure if a part of my brain has to be destroyed to make the obsessions cease. I can only hope that new medications will arrive on the market. I get into a groove when a medication works. This groove is disturbed when that medication’s efficacy ends. Don’t Disturb This Groove (1987), by The System, will give you an idea of how this groove feels. Most of you should be able to relate on some level.
I once had a neighbor named Jim. He was a joy to talk to. I’m pretty sure he felt the same way about me. Jim was a mechanic. He once told me a story about a customer who would repeatedly ask him to check under the hood of his car to see that everything looked alright before he drove off. This happened every time that Jim worked on the man’s car. This customer would shed tears as he begged Jim to check again and again. Jim would comply because he felt sorry for the man. Then the day came when Jim could no longer deal with this customer. He told the man that he would no longer work on his car. I have obsessive-compulsive disorder and it is very likely that this man suffered from it too. Dealing with unwanted thoughts and irrational fears can be quite arduous. When I hear about husbands beating their wives over things like placing canned goods on shelves without the labels facing forward, I cannot help but to wonder if obsessive-compulsive disorder or some other form of mental illness was involved.
I try not to suck anyone else into my bouts with mental illness. Sometimes, I fail. I might break down and ask friends or family to recall past events so I can confirm that they took place. I might need them to be witnesses as I triple-check a locked door. I might call these witnesses to the stand to hear them testify at any given time. I am very fortunate to have people in my life who are patient and understanding. Stay with Me (1983), by DeBarge, makes me think about them. I believe that there will come a time when I will be the only witness I need. I work toward this every day.
When you need to keep yourself from altogether losing it, try talking to yourself. Lolly Vegas recommended this approach when he wrote One More Time (1974) for Redbone. I love this song and the logic behind it. If we keep giving ourselves one more time before we lose our sanity, then we will always have it. I’ve even found that talking to myself is an effective way to deal with my obsessive-compulsive disorder. Listen to Lolly’s lyrics. This song is therapeutic.
A lot of musicians achieve greatness. Very few are consistently great over the course of decades. Prince is one of these astounding few. I remember when he gave us The Most Beautiful Girl In The World (1995). This was during a very difficult period in my life due to my not yet diagnosed obsessive-compulsive disorder. I cherished all types of beauty as welcome distractions from my terror. I cherished this beautiful song. It made me realize that there was no end in sight to Prince’s greatness. I had more to look forward to.
When I was around two years old, I became very upset when a metallic part broke off of the toy truck that I was playing with. I was not crying over spilled milk. I was crying because I could see the spilled milk. It bothered me that the metallic part was still in my presence. I picked it up and closed my eyes. I threw it and then opened my eyes. It was still in my presence. I crawled over and picked it up again. I closed my eyes and threw it again. When I opened my eyes, it was still in my presence. I looked around and saw some small holes in a wall where I could get rid of this metallic part. I pushed it into one of the small holes and saw some pretty blue sparks. It was a miracle that I did not get electrocuted from the wall socket. I recall this as my earliest experience with obsessive-compulsive disorder.
When I was eighteen years old, my obsessive-compulsive disorder had just about taken over my life. I did not know what was happening with myself. I attributed the horrendous thoughts that I was having to my rotten childhood. Obsessive-compulsive disorder is a condition in which one’s own brain sends one false messages. The messages seem real. It is as if your brain is telling you lies. I did not immediately seek help because I reasoned that no therapist would be able to talk me out of having these thoughts. It never occurred to me that my suffering was due to a chemical imbalance. I came to the end of my rope at nineteen years old. I sought therapy and found out that my suffering was due to obsessive-compulsive disorder.
My doctor informed me that I had the worst case of obsessive-compulsive disorder he had ever treated. I was dealing with unwanted thoughts every minute of every wakeful hour. Clomipramine took away about 90% of my symptoms. I noticed that my brain felt normal again. I remembered what normal felt like for me. It no longer felt like there was a void in my head. The remaining 10% of my symptoms can be overwhelming but I do the best I can. When your brain declares war on you, there is no place to retreat. Still, I will not surrender.
The purpose of this post is to spread awareness. I wish that I had come across one like it when I needed answers at the age of eighteen. There are a number of conditions that involve unwanted thoughts due to a chemical imbalance. Take a look at yourself and your loved ones. Observe how your little ones play with toys and others. We do not seek help until we realize that we can be helped.