Here is part two of “My OCD Life Story, So Far”: “College/It (Properly) Begins” For part one, click here.
I loved college. My roommates and I would ride bikes, host shows in our bedroom, go on picnics, and lounge around our house until it felt even too late to get ready for bed. I decided I wanted to run a music venue and ended up in one of the easier degrees at BYU: commercial recreation management. As part of a class project once, I made sugar cookies for an elementary school and helped kids decorate them. Easy peasy. My final hurdle to graduating was an internship. I picked Seattle. There was an arts/music/movie place where I could intern. I would live on my own and have a fabulous time exploring the world at large. Or so it played out in my head. But not in real life. In real life, everything fell apart. The arts center imploded, bosses quit or were fired, and I was left with the board of directors, none of us quite knowing what was going on. I realized I didn’t actually like living alone. I had no fall back friends. And I started to freak out.
I freaked out about burning CDs. I felt like I was going to be arrested for all the burned CDs I had or had made for other people. All the mixtapes and CDs that I so carefully crafted would be my downfall. I thought I would be going to jail for it all. Sued. Etc. This led to massive (and ongoing) anxiety about copyright: movies, music, photography, etc. Was I using things in the correct way? Who did I need to get permission from? What fees did I need to pay? Should I be watching this movie on my laptop in a public place? Am I allowed to play that music in this venue for this cause? Things like that.
I worried that maybe I hadn’t paid proper tithing in the past. I worried about going over the speed limit. Jay walking. Whether or not I ran a red light. I worried about not being completely honest when I was talking to people. Did I over exaggerate or say the wrong thing? I worried about foods with wine in their ingredients, or alcohol. Especially alcohol. Baking things with vanilla extract? No way. Certain vinegars? Ha.
I remember one day I decided to fast just because I had worked myself up so much that I had no appetite. Another time I felt like I had sleep paralysis. That summer I got an EKG at the health clinic because I thought I might be having heart problems or a heart attack with the symptoms I was suddenly exhibiting. More like, it was my body having an OCD welcoming party.
All of this was shocking and, as you might expect, the opposite of empowering. It felt like someone else was in control of my brain, like an invading force had taken over and I was helpless to stop it. It was as if my brain and logic went rogue, and I had no choice but to follow where they led and try to survive. I handled it by trying to be around other people as much as possible, something that, as an introvert, seemed a bit crazy as well. But if I was around others, I was alone with my thoughts less, and that was the only way I figured I could keep going.