Present day (and past).
You may not want to read this post. Even more, tomorrow’s.
I didn’t want to write them. But I am committed to telling the truth about Bink’s illness; about myself; about all of us. Aversion, distaste, yuckiness is what OCD is all about.
A friend whom I’ve barely seen since university contacted me from abroad, having just found this blog. Amidst expressions of support and sympathy he told me of a quip the previous evening about his ‘OCD’: he was neat and tidy when we were at Oxford.
“Doesn’t seem so funny this morning.”
Last night our paying guests commented about being ‘OCD,’ in locking themselves out of our house. Such comments used to sadden me but now they are water off the old db. As I replied to my friend, it’s no worse than joking about someone being nuts or bonkers, is it?
Obviously there must be some evolutionary point to it: screaming in horror at your toddler eating dog poo might put it off next time and stop it going blind, presumably. OCD is no more than this universal – and, let’s face it, irrational – disgust gone haywire.
I tried to explain it to my father when Bink was first ill. “You have illogical reactions,” I said. “You don’t like the dog licking plates clean.”
“That’s because it’s disgusting,” he argued, showing himself less self-aware than Bink.
No, it isn’t. Dogs’ mouths have far fewer germs than humans’ so the dog is presumably making the plate cleaner. And any remaining bogeys are about to be boiled to death in the dishwasher: you could sluice the plates off in a sewer first and it wouldn’t be unhygienic.
When the children were small my parents gave them a Bug File: interesting information about creepy crawlies in the garden, with little bug boxes to catch and observe them. The school had a project on, so they were taking some in with them.
“Mummy, it’s escaping!” came the panic from the back of the car.
“Don’t be silly. It can’t possibly. And if it did, it wouldn’t hurt you would it?” I oozed calm and reassurance.
The squeals continued, and eventually someone handed me the bug box. “There’s absolutely nothing...” I said, taking it confidently and turning at the traffic lights, “to worry...”
And then I saw the horrid, vile little centipede, four fifths escaped from the tiny air-hole, waving its disgusting, revolting, hideous hundred little icky legs at me and about to land on my lap, and threw it out of the window, shrieking.
In the early days, I tried to help Bink in that annoying way people have when they’ve thought far less about a problem than you have and think they’ve come up with a solution.
“I’ve been reading,” I said naïvely, “and apparently you can cure yourself of OCD by just getting in the bath anyway, and not worrying about how you feel. Eventually the feelings get fed up and go away. Just thought I’d mention it,” I went on digging. “Because obviously it’s awful being ill, and it seems to me it’s worth doing something difficult if it will get you well...” I petered out.
“If you were ill,” she challenged, “would you do anything – anything at all – to get yourself better?”
“I hope so. If I were suffering as much as you.”
“Suppose you were told to sit in a bath full of live, wriggling maggots for several hours? Would you do that?”
“They don’t bite, or sting, or do you any harm. They can’t hurt you, can they?”
Well, would I?