I am terrified of germs and being contaminated, but that is not how my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder began. The earliest event that I can recall happened around ten years of age. I was afraid of the dark, which is common. I remember running and jumping into bed and quickly covering my head. This was fine during the summer, but in wintertime it became a sweltering nightmare. I had an electric blanket on my bed, and I had to have the dial all the way up on ten. I felt like something bad would happen if I turned it down to another number.
I eventually got over the electric blanket dial phobia, but it did not take long for it to metamorphose. By the time I was twelve, a new problem emerged. I had always loved reading, but it was rapidly becoming my newest form of hell. I would read a sentence and understand the words, but I could not seem to make sense of the sentence as a whole. At times I would read an entire paragraph and not be able to say what it was about. I had always been a straight A student, and this made it difficult to read books assigned for class.
I managed to get through junior high without too much trouble, but things were about to change in my freshman year of high school. I got the English teacher with the reputation of being the toughest in school. I won’t lie – he scared the living daylights out of me. We were assigned just one classic novel per quarter, but the book report had to be stellar. Not once during that year was I able to read an entire book. I think I made it through half of one book toward the end of one quarter because, out of fear, I forced myself to read through several chapters without stopping whether I understood it or not. With the other three books I averaged about one-fourth.
I do not know how I managed to get good grades on those reports, but things got complicated on the last one. I had read so little of the book, and I did not feel at all confident that I had enough information to do my report, that I started asking around to find someone else that had read it. That plan backfired on me. Another student ratted on me. This person told the intimidating English teacher that I had been cheating. He made an announcement to the class that there had been rumors that some students had been cheating and that he would be calling several students to the back of class to his desk to ask them some questions. He had my report right there with an A- on it, but he said that he had doubts as to whether I had actually read the book. He asked me questions about what happened in the book. I had no idea what the answers were. I remember saying that I had read most of the book at the beginning of the quarter and that was the reason I could not remember all the details. Somehow I came up with enough bits of information not to get an F, but he did cross out my A- and write B- in its place.
My freshman year was an eventful year in the development of my OCD. More to come.