Nighttime is an awful time for a lot of people. Despite the fact that I feel much more at home at night, right around dusk is always a difficult time for me. Since high school, I’ve gone through a number of periods where, as the sun set, I’d burst out crying for no reason and revert to self-destructive behaviours. So you’re certainly not alone.
My biggest suggestion for you is to make sure you’re eating enough during the day. Binge eating is often brought on by your body’s attempt to make up for being denied something it requires. If you’re cutting way, way back, your body may go into a panic mode and take over.
If it’s more of an emotional thing, try to find ways to distract yourself. Skype with a friend, read a good book in a hot bath, or prepare a nice healthy meal for yourself. Even if you have to invite a friend over to make sure you don’t go rushing to the store to buy binge foods, a small hiccup in the process could help you “reset” the behaviour.
Also, I’ve always found journalling to be immensely helpful. If you write down how you’re feeling (what made you happy that day, what is stressing you out, are you annoyed with anyone, etc.) and mark down when you binge, you may find a pattern that you can then work on changing.
Best of luck to you!
It’s personal talk time. Skip over this post if you’d rather just read about abortion rights, photography, and feminism.
First off: What is Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder? According to the International OCD Foundation (IOCDF), OCD is a…
disorder of the brain and behavior. OCD causes severe anxiety in those affected. OCD involves both obsessions and compulsions that take a lot of time and get in the way of important activities the person values.
Between 1-3% of children are estimated to have OCD, though most children/young adults aren’t diagnosed until between the ages of 7 and 12. A large number of adults with OCD, about 30-50%, say that their symptoms began in childhood.
I am one of those with childhood-onset OCD.
Some of my earliest memories involve my OCD. I remember walking with my mom and sister to the library, quite a few steps behind them, thinking to myself that I must be either adopted or an alien. As a child, those were the only explanations I could think of for why I had to step on every sidewalk square an even number of times while they simply walked.
Throughout the years, I’ve gone through cycles of a wide variety of obsessions and compulsions, with only a few constants.
- When I was in first or second grade, I was obsessed with my hair. I pulled hair out until I had a small bald spot on the back of my head. I also had a strange fascination with cutting small, small parts of my hair off. I’d take my scissors, snip off a little bit of hair, and stash it in a garbage can so my mom wouldn’t yell at me.
- Since childhood, I’ve always focused on my steps. I step on sidewalk squares an even number of times. If there’s a crack, I step on either side of the crack and even number of times. And if I step on a crack, I have to step on another crack with the other foot, in the same area of the foot, and the crack has to be of similar “feel” under my foot.
- Starting in middle school, I’ve counted steps. Both how many steps I’m taking and how many stairs there are of a staircase.
- I prefer the right to the left. When walking through a doorway, I try to always step through with my right foot.
- The last two bullet points combine to form another one. When walking from, say, a carpeted area to a tiled area, I walk an even number of steps on each.
- In middle school, I started “wiping” my fingernails. I keep my nails longer than most people, and in middle school I began to worry that there would be fingerprints on them. I began wiping them off on the palm of the opposite hand. I always wiped the right thumbnail, the left thumbnail, than all four right fingernails and all four left fingernails. Over and over until my palms chaffed.
- And so on and so forth until today…
I have never been diagnosed. In my life, I have been to four different therapists, but one was court-mandated while my parents were going through rough custody battles, one I only saw once or twice before I moved for college, and two were horrible and I hated them. But I was in my early teens when the obsessions overwhelmed me and I had to know what was happening.
I don’t know or why I began studying OCD, but I did, and suddenly everything fit. It didn’t make sense, not by a long shot, but it fit.
Years went by before I told my mom I had OCD. In fact, most of the people I talked to at school knew long before she did. And oh, how they took advantage of it. In high school, a friend of mine got her kicks putting eraser shavings all over my lab table while we were working in chemistry and physics. I would then spend the next couple minutes furiously wiping them onto the floor while she laughed.
I don’t blame her, though. People never know how serious I am when I say I have OCD until the witness it firsthand. About a year and a half ago, I took a poetry class, and we had to keep a Writer’s Journal that we made an entry in every day. Mine was a giant notebook, filled with observations, overheard quotes, doodles, poem ideas, etc. I brought it with me everywhere. One day I was in the coffee shop with some friends, and one was reading a poem from my journal. Another asked to read it, and they tossed it across the table we were at. What we didn’t know was that some water had spilled on the table, and my notebook, open, had been tossed into it. I snatched up the notebook and frantically wiped at the pages. Joking, a friend said, “Watch out, Lita, or it’ll be wrinkled!” I started sobbing. My friends suddenly became worried for me, gathered around, and have tried to avoid triggering my panic since.
Unfortunately, with as many obsessions/compulsions as I have, it’s nearly impossible for me to avoid it.
Even breathing is an issue. Every inhale, for me, is a calculated decision. I hate it when people say that you don’t need to remember to breathe, that you don’t need to think about it. Because that’s false for me.
In my mind, inhaling is the quickest way to let contamination into your body. I can only inhale while looking at “clean” or “good” things.
“Clean”/”good” things include, but are not limited to:
- the black bars along the top/bottom of the TV during some shows and movies
- solid colored, clean walls
- fully erased whiteboards or chalkboards
- faces and hair of people I find not-unattractive
- walls with no dirt or cracks
If I inhale while looking at “dirty” or “bad” things, I can feel the dirtiness through my body and I have to quickly exhale it out.
“Dirty”/”bad” things include, but are not limited to:
- noses (of anyone)
- chipped, discolored, cracked walls
If there’s a “clean” thing with an area of “bad,” like a whiteboard with an area of eraser marks, there is a way to separate the two in my head. I look around the “bad” area, drawing a line with my eyes while I exhale. The exhalation forms a barrier along where I looked, blocking the “bad” from the “good” and allowing me to inhale. However, this barricade only lasts a short time, meaning I have to reform it over and over in order to breathe.
In the same vein, I don’t like being lightly touched because then I feel off balance.
I also occasionally suffer from uncontrollable unwanted thoughts. At the beginning of 2010, I was constantly thinking of my boyfriend with other women. The thoughts wouldn’t go away, and they got so bad that at one point I’d freak out if he so much as looked at me because my brain would scream at me that he was just looking at another girl in a line of girls, that I was nothing special, that he had never and could never love me. For days, I refused to let him touch me.
This year, I’m hoping to go into therapy and/or start medication. I’m not sure what, or how, or when, but it’s my goal. On the other hand, I’m terrified of getting better because OCD has always been a part of my life. I ask myself, who am I without OCD? What are my hobbies? What is it like to not worry constantly? Could I handle it?
Until then, I’m going to keep on reading memoirs like Girl, Interrupted. Memoirs about eating disorders and mental illness, especially OCD, make me feel at home and remind me that I’m not alone. I’ll keep watching Obsessed and telling myself that we’ll all be okay.
So there you are. A scratch at the surface of my mental illness.
If you have any questions, leave them in my Ask box or in a Reblog.
If you want to know more, do the same.
If you want to chat, if you’re a young person dealing with OCD in secret, if you’re struggling with therapy, or if you just need a friend, leave your e-mail or Skype username in my Ask box. I won’t publish it, but I’ll try to get in contact.
More resources on OCD:
Hey people! Here’s a post I wrote a couple years ago about my struggle with OCD. I can’t say I’ve been to therapy since this post (and I’ve never been medicated for it), but I’ve learned to deal in a much healthier way, and I’m proud.
PAPER CHAIN PROJECT
- For every day you go without self harming or purging, add a colourful link to the paper chain
- If you relapse, just add a white link to to the chain and carry on the chain without any disruption
- Over time the paper chain will grow in length and you can see your progress, and see that even if you do relapse, the are still days you go without hurting yourself. The colourful links.
- Over time and through your recovery watch the amount of coloured links begin to increase, and the amount of white links begin to decrease.
- If you feel like hurting yourself, look at the paper chain and realise just how far you’ve made it, and realise that if you’ve resisted before you can do it again :)
- Please reblog, this could help someone towards recovery. ❤
Although this is probably talking about cis men, I know many trans* men with eating disorders also due to the way masculinity is portrayed, stigmatization of looking for help, and sexual standards.