Sunday, 2 March 2014

Unscrewed and Unhinged: How I came to develop Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

The Door in happier times

Smartphones are said to be the cause of growing numbers of people with Obsessive Compulsive disorder (OCD). The cause of my OCD is more sinister.

Feverish Fingers

If you have been to the theatre recently, you will know what I am talking about. The lights in the auditorium go dim, the music begins, and smartphone users rush to update their Facebook status. As the curtain rises, you are surrounded by feverish fingers stabbing at small screens, somehow oblivious to the scene in front of them.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

I am a smartphone user, but my true obsession is the entrance door to the block of flats where I live. I need to keep checking whether or not the door is secure. I have all the characteristics of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I live in constant fear that a flash mob is about to flood into the stairwell, and keep me awake. I suffer from anxiety in the place I call home. Checking to see whether the door is secure brings temporary relief, but each time I hear the door open, the anxiety returns.

How did this happen?

About a year ago I noticed that the upper bolt on the main door had been removed completely. I was a bit flummoxed. Why would anyone do that? Could someone have lost their key, and decided that between having a new key cut, and attacking the door, the latter option was the most convenient? I reported the damage to the landlord, several times. Eventually, a new but less effective bolt was fitted. The original bolt one was made of solid brass. It looked as if it had been there for decades.

A pattern emerges

In no time at all, the Yale lock was unscrewed. I reported this new attack to the landlord. By now I realised that I was up against a persistent saboteur. Each time the door was made secure, someone found another way to stop it closing. I began to think that lack of a key was not the issue. More likely, it had something to do with the stream of late night visitors in the stairwell. That, and the unmistakable smell of cannabis were the signs I had missed, or rather failed to connect. 

Changing the narrative

A different story was emerging and it wasn't a fairy tale. Based on what was happening to the door, I created a new narrative that wasn’t a million miles from ‘Breaking Bad’. Finally, my OCD really kicked in when I woke at 2.00 am to the noise of men shouting, and the sound of something, or someone, being thrown at a wall.

Missing a few screws

I need a cure for my OCD. I want to stop feeling this compulsion to check the door. As doors go, it is a handsome piece of wood that has give good service. It has guarded our little block of flats for a very long time. Possibly it survived the war. Now the door is under attack from an enemy within. Bit by bit its functionality is being destroyed. The bolts are removed, the lock unscrewed, the paint chipped and scratched. Is it the door, or is it me, that is becoming unhinged?

Some people are addicted to checking their Facebook. Me, I just need to go and see if the door is still attached to its frame.

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