The Last (Or First) Time

I’m kind of in a hurry right now, so I could probably do a better job on this… but, I’m kind of in a hurry with this blog in general lately so I’m just going to go with it. This is a parody of that “The Last Time” poem for parents that’s been going around Facebook lately. It’s called, “The Last (Or First) Time.” it’s about OCD, and I originally meant for it to be funny, but it’s kind of funny and sad… but mostly I intended it to be funny.

The Last (Or First) Time

From the moment you realize you have OCD,

you will never be the same.

You might long for the person you were before,

When you had freedom and time,

And nothing in particular to worry about.

Or you may not remember not worrying at all.

You will know tiredness like you never knew it before,

And days will run into days that are exactly the same,

Full of counting and tapping,

Ruminating and crying,

Repeating things over and over,

It might seem like a never-ending cycle.

But don’t forget…

You never know exactly how many times any one thing will happen.

There will come a time when you will feed your baby

for the second or third time.

They will fall asleep on you after a long day

And it will be the fourth or fifth time you ever hold your

sleeping child.

One day you will carry them on your hip.

then set them down,

And pick them up that way again nine times to make it even.

Then wonder whether you should count picking them up and putting them down as “one” or “two.”

You will scrub their hair in the bath one night

And from that day on they will want to bathe alone.

Because you made them wash their hair four extra times.

They will not hold your hand to cross the road,

Not because of germs, but because if they touched your hand

You would have to touch their other hand 2 times.

And then repeat it once so it makes 4.

(But not just do it 4 times in the first place, because that’s different. it has to be two sets of two.)

They will creep into your room at midnight for cuddles,

And because it’s 12 AM and AM seems like an odd number and PM seems like an even number

It’s not OK to do anything at 12 AM.

1 AM is OK because 1 is an odd number and AM + odd number = even number.

It doesn’t have to make sense; it just feels right.

One afternoon you will sing “the wheels on the bus”

and do all the actions,

Then never sing them that song again.

Because the number of syllables in the title adds up to an odd number.

They will kiss you goodbye at the school gate,

The next day they will kiss you goodbye two times because the first time didn’t feel right.

You don’t always have to add up all the totals to be even, it just depends on how it feels.

You will read a final bedtime story and wipe your last dirty face.

They will one day run to you with arms raised,

for the third time. Or maybe it’s the fourth. Or the fifth.

You will send them back across the playground to run towards you again and count the number of steps they take while running, and maybe that will make it better.

The thing is, you won’t even know how many times all of these things happened

Until you spend your entire life counting, and even then,

You won’t be able to account for the times you were too young to have memories,

And can’t be sure whether you in some way knew how to count things back then.

So while you are living in these times,

Remember there are only so many of them and

when they are gone,

you will yearn for just one more day of them.

So you can stop counting.

What’s OCD and What Isn’t

To help people understand OCD a little better, here are some simple OCD and non-OCD examples.

Not OCD = washing your hands frequently.

OCD = washing your hands because you looked at a bottle of poison, and worry that poison particles might have floated onto your hands.

Not OCD = keeping a clean house, and being tidy to a fault.

OCD = cleaning your house even though you don’t want to, because of an object that touched something that touched something that touched something else that might have touched something dirty months ago that has since been cleaned, and now all of these objects are probably contaminated.

Not OCD = being conscious and careful about germs.

OCD = worrying that germs can travel in ways they actually don’t, or believing that certain numbers or colors are associated with the spread of germs (i.e. “If I looked at something blue/the number X, I’ll probably get sick”).

Not OCD = enjoying routines and following rules.

OCD = following routines and rules that you hate because you feel like if you don’t, something bad will happen.

Not OCD = keeping objects straight and neat.

OCD = readjusting an object even though you know it probably is straight, because it just doesn’t feel right.

It’s impossible to diagnose OCD based on one symptom alone and as you can see, the problem has less to do with being clean or orderly and more to do with being unable to tolerate even a small amount of uncertainty. People with OCD are more aware and afraid of uncertainty than other people. We obsess over something that might happen as though it probably will, or already has happened. We do this not because we’re uptight or even generally excessive worriers, but because our brains tell us something is wrong. It’s the same feeling we get when something actually is wrong, like when we get injured or make a serious mistake, so it’s the most difficult feeling in the world to ignore — but we must learn to ignore it. That’s why beating OCD is so difficult.

OCD isn’t something that inspires us to be cleaner, neater, and more efficient in our lives; it’s something that holds us back, because it means our brains are telling us we have to deal with problems that don’t even exist. Certainly, people with OCD can be more detail-oriented, good at focusing, and observant — and if so, we can learn to use those powers to our advantage. But those things are not the essence of OCD, and not the core of our problem.