inspiration · mental health · travel

Don’t Count With Your Mouth Full


You must wrap the hair dryer cord the exact same way every time to be consistent or your life will fall to ruin because you can’t even keep an appliance together.

If you don’t respond positively to everything this friend is saying right now, they will never talk to you again because you don’t react the right way.

Don’t touch that, it has “object juice” on it.

You can’t leave until 8:05! It’s 8:06 now, you must wait until 8:10 because it’s five minutes after and five feels good, doesn’t it? If you leave now something horrible might happen to you because you left at the wrong time.

Fix that, it’s not symmetrical.

Skip that step, it’s bad.

Tap that three times.

Is the door locked? Go check it. Your hand might have moved the lock when you were checking it, check it again. Better safe than sorry- You could get murdered in your sleep. You could get murdered while you’re awake… People get murdered. Why don’t you think it would happen to you? I bet the people getting murdered thought the same thing and then- dead.

Are those laughs or screams in the distance?

The Brita has to stay at exactly the same level, it’s important.

Re-read that, I think you missed something. Read it again, I don’t think that’s right.

Don’t let them touch you. Now, look what you’ve done… Take a complete shower and scrub them off you immediately.

What if your OCD is just a preview of how you’re seriously going to lose your mind?

Fill up at pump 4, it’s our lucky number and if we don’t acknowledge it, it won’t be lucky anymore.

Keep that, you might need it.

And so it goes, on and on and on… relentlessly. I fight with my head every single day and it’s been this way as long as I can remember. When I was in high school, I could tell you exactly how many steps it took to get from my locker to anywhere in the school. My momma and little brother would laugh whenever I ate because they knew I was counting how many times I chewed each bite and how many bites it took to finish the meal.

I’ve scrubbed myself raw with pumice stones and I’ve been locked inside thoughts of death and beyond for months on end.

Few people know or understand the magnitude of my OCD because fighting it has been a top priority. Maybe it was because I had too many battles to fight without the addition of being a “freak” growing up- I had enough trouble fitting in as it was.

As soon as I noticed my behaviors were different from other people, I launched a counter attack.

One of the first inner struggles I had with OCD growing up was when I was somewhere between 13 and 14. After a youth meeting, one summer night, a group of us went to a local restaurant and ordered an appetizer to share. The basket wasn’t symmetrical with the table and I desperately needed to fix it. Adjusting it, however, would mean reaching across the entire table with everyone watching, including my crush, Brad. I was angry with myself for paying more attention to the basket than to the people around it. I just wanted to hangout. I forbade myself to touch the basket, or even look at it, again. I sat on my hands and tried to join in with conversation as best as I could.

From then on, I devotedly fought against rituals and anything else I could identify as OCD. If my OCD told me to walk a certain way, I walked the opposite. If my hands felt dirty, I made them dirtier. If I said a word “wrong,” I let the memory of saying it echo through my head over and over and over, but I did not repeat it.

Some things, like counting, crept their way in unannounced and I had to work even harder to rid them because they had just enough time to become a habit, working with my self-conscious, like a weed in a flowerbed.

“Don’t count with your mouth full” became a silent mantra.

I’ve been fighting OCD for decades now and I’d like to say I’ve become an expert at it, but the truth is, I still lie in bed at night and worry about whether or not the door really is locked, how I really am going to die, if my sheets really are clean, if the picture in the hall is slightly crooked. I still find myself tapping the tops of coke cans three times before I open them and avoiding physical contact with people I’m not close to. When I went to New York, recently, I was confronted by things I wasn’t used to dealing with- the griminess of everything, the sheer volume of people brushing against my body.

I think the difference is finding the balance between letting OCD ruin your life and losing your mind trying to stop it. I’m constantly working to stay in that sweet spot.

I control OCD, I don’t allow it to control me.

If you were asked to lift 300lbs, having never tried, you probably couldn’t. In fact, you would probably laugh and walk away shaking your head. However, if you were asked to lift 300lbs, and you had been practicing and working out, you stand a much better chance in lifting it, or more.

If you want freedom of your mind, break free– making the decision is the biggest step. If you want it bad enough, you can get it.

I’m not suggesting you lock yourself in a steel box to detox.

I’m suggesting you start with battles you immediately know you can win. Give yourself small goals and start tackling them one at a time. Put limits on yourself- If you usually wash your hands repetitively, only wash them once for 2 minutes, or whatever the medically recommended time is, and then walk away.

Keep putting your foot down, it’s the only way to fight for your sanity.

My advice for dealing with OCD is simple and I know it’s insensitive, but that’s because it has to be. It’s about your quality of life. No one can fight this battle for you. You can lock yourself in a room collecting pee if you want, but I’m going to be out falling in love and exploring the world before I die. (See my post entitled Invictus)


25 thoughts on “Don’t Count With Your Mouth Full

  1. Wow very interesting read. OCD is a very real thing. My dad thought I had minor dose of OCD but I guess it was a temporary thing. I used to count my footsteps. And when I cleaned, I CLEANED! Whew. Lol. I’m not like that anymore though so I don’t know what was going on. But the way you describe OCD is staggering. It’s crazy how our minds think–how we literally cannot control some of the thoughts we think. Thank you for sharing this. It gives great insight and your attitude is positive about the whole thing. That’s great!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think sometimes people settle. They find a label and sit under it without realizing they have the option to choose a better one. You can always fight for the way you want to live your life and if you don’t, that’s a choice. I don’t want to be ruled by negative circumstance and it’s frustrating to see people falling to ruin when they could have saved themselves.

      Liked by 3 people

  2. Wow, I know a few people who say they have OCD, but mostly they have certain traits. This is something else altogether! You seem to have learnt to cope well with it. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. Your writing is beautiful and fluent – you are a natural. I look forward to reading more from you.

    Tallulah x

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Tallulah, thank you so much for your kind words. It took me a long time to realize it doesn’t matter how much of something you have but what you do with it. OCD or not, people sometimes get locked and lost in their heads, be it depression or whatever, and need help breaking free- the same as you would slap someone in shock to bring them back to reality, we sometimes have to slap ourselves.

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Amazing. Thank you for putting this out there for the world to see and hopefully learn from. I was diagnosed 14 years ago and the lack of knowledge on this disorder is staggering. I have no shame and my hope is that the more of us who speak out…the less shame there will be for those who have it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. As well known as OCD is, you wouldn’t think it would be shrouded by ignorance but so many people attach it to trivial things without fully understanding it. In a recent conversation about this, someone described OCD as “a very painful itch in your mind that never goes away and only gets worse if you scratch it” and that is one of the most accurate descriptions I’ve ever heard.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Hi Jescole,

    This post about OCD is so showing. I can not begin to imagine what you have been through. And although I have never been diagnosed with it but I feel that as I am growing older I find it harder and harder to wade it off in my mind. The locked door is my biggest fear – i have ruined many an evening outside wondering if I locked the door, or if the heating was turned off (we used to have gas burner heaters) or if the stove is off. At night the sheets need to be tucked all around my feet perfectly otherwise ill keep on fidgeting with it. I sometimes get stuck in a studying rut where my mind wont let me proceed to the next thing without understanding everything about this one word i have come across. It just goes on and on. But I find your remedy to be fair – this is the only way – you are right.
    I have recently found your blog but love the posts you have on here. Whenever i get a chance I do try to read your writing. Hence I have nominated you for the versatile blogger award. I hope you will accept it and keep writing you posts.

    Thanks, you are awesome !

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Way to go for putting yourself out there Jescole! I know it takes a lot to get to that point where you share it with the world, but I’m glad you reached it! You have a whole world to explore, and I can tell you’re going to explore a lot of it. Cheers!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Tadpole!

      This reminds me of an old saying, “If you never let anything happen, nothing ever will”

      Sometimes you just have to put yourself out there so you can live your life and let go of all the garbage holding you back.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. I had such a good laugh reading your mannerisms as I kept thinking how similar we are. I do a four-tap instead of a three, like symmetry, can never crack my knuckles on just one hand, follow the rule of fives in time, lock my car at least thrice before heading into a building and then check again from inside the building, and 4 is my number. When I was in fourth grade, I counted the total number of steps that I took for at least 7 months before I forgot the number. And as you do say, I too, noticed that I was behaving strangely, but I embraced my quirkiness, I prefer to not give it a name as I feel that whatever it is, it is me. I did not exactly fight it, but I did manage to stop many things by merely realising that they were counter-productive. I think it is wonderful that you have these quirky mannerisms.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Haha, yes, although the one about getting touched is something that is not easy to withstand. I still am not comfortable with people shaking my hands, thank god, I’m in India where a few people still follow the tradition of wishing ‘Namaste’ with folded hands.

        Liked by 2 people

    1. OCD is something the majority of people make assumptions about without actually understanding. Short of anxiety medication, there’s no magic pill to cure it. You have to stand up to it, which is unbelievably difficult. Thank you for your support!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Love this one too. Love everything I have read so far. I don’t suffer from OCD but I do have PMDD which causes a ton of anxiety and can cause panic attacks. Very different than what you go through but you have to fight within your own mind. So in that respect I can relate.
    Interestingly I read another post today by someone suffering from anxiety and OCD. His name is ‘mustard seed’ I believe. His post takes you inside his mind during a grocery shopping trip. It’s worth a read.


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