I cannot describe how much I hate sneezes. I actually don’t mind myself sneezing, it’s just when other people do it that I can’t stand it. The germs and whatnot should be the things I hate the most but oh no, it’s what the sneezes make me do that gets me down…
You see, at the age of eleven I went to the doctors. I told them that I’d diagnosed myself with OCD and suggested they give me a second opinion; a more qualified opinion than that of my own. The doctor didn’t give me a diagnosis, nor did she offer me any medication. What she did give me though was pretty helpful, a sentence in fact – and it’s stuck with me ever since. It’s actually stopped me from judging other people’s obsessions, and more importantly my own. She told me that everyone suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder to some degree. We wouldn’t be healthy if we didn’t have something worry about.
This theory agreed with me nicely. I liked it. I also liked the fact that I didn’t need to be put on any medication at such a young age – although I’m sure the hypochondriac in me had something to say about that.
From an old friend folding his tissues exactly 7 times before blowing his nose, to my inner child kissing each teddy bear before sleep – I believe that each of these quirks are fundamental to our ever growing characteristics that make us unique. I also believe that each obsessive thought someone has that causes an impending compulsive action, has some sort of honesty behind it. No matter how crazy the thought or action may be, I like to think there is a hint of logic there.
You see, every individual will have some repetitive behaviours or mental acts they feel they must perform, to a rigid set of rules they’ve made themselves. They recognise that these obsessional thoughts and impulses may seem crazy, and they may try to ignore or supress these impulses, but doing so can lead to anxiety or distress. Some in more severe cases than others.
I once had a panic attack in the middle of the night at a travel lodge in Alton Towers…because I was sleeping opposite a mirror. I remember reading in a Feng Shui book that it’s unlucky to place your bed opposite a mirror or door.
The Chinese believe that a dead person is always carried out feet first from the bedroom. With the bed directly opposite the door, it’s a reminder of the position of a coffin. The Chinese also believe that when you are sleeping, your soul leaves your body in dreams, if the first thing it comes across is a mirror, it sees itself in the mirror and loses itself within it.
Looking back at some of the tendancies I have obsessed over, I realise that they have mostly stemmed from littles tales and superstitions I was told as a child. They seem to have stuck with me and developed in their own curious ways. My main OCD tendancy is honestly the bane of my life and is such a
bitch. Has anyone ever told you that if you don’t thank the person who said “Bless You” after you’ve sneezed, it causes a fairy to die. The only way of reviving said fairy is to clap your hands.
I know, I know. It’s crazy but this little clapping of the hands has since developed over the years, into merely tapping my thumb whenever I hear a sneeze. It’s the whole classical conditioning theory Pavlov came up with years ago. Instead of the dogs salivating and getting excited whenever they hear the bell (meaning food was on its way)…I have now been conditioned to feel hatred towards the sound of sneezing as I know the tapping of the thumb has to commence. Sound of sneezing = lifting up hands so that the third finger on my right hand taps the tip of my left thumb.
I could just stop.
It’d be so easy to stop, no?
But I can’t. I have this niggling feeling of dread and anxiety if I don’t fulfil this task – hence why I hate people sneezing, because I know I have to tap my thumb, and there’s nothing I can do about it. There isn’t even a set number of times I have to tap, I stop tapping when it feels right to stop. This is the same for switching on and off lights, even when I have to unplug or plug something in.
Apart from my hands looking like they’re having an epileptic fit whenever I hear a sneeze, my other obsessions seem mild in comparison, and are easier to conceal. My friend loves telling the story of how when we went swimming, she turned round in the pool to face me but I’d disappeared. I hadn’t disappeared, I had in fact started to sink to the bottom of the pool because one of the kids there kept sneezing. Yes I was aware that I was slowly sinking, but I kept that thumb a tapping, that’s all that mattered.
I have learnt to accept and embrace this quality of mine, as have my friends and family. The fact that some of these actions cause me to be late, get stressed or have a panic attack are just what I have to live with, and at the end of the day make me me. Obviously I don’t like being labelled anal or a freak about certain things (thanks to my sister), but I quite like being quirky.