Self Diagnosers

May 16, 2014

When I was young, my mostest favorite thing in the whole world was when my mom would rub my back. I’d lie across her legs for hours, listening to her and my grandmother trash talk our relatives as she gently rubbed my back, occasionally pressing her fingers down firmly in mid-rub. I’d ask what she was doing and her response was always ‘Nothing, just counting.’ At the time I didn’t know what she meant.

Cut to 15 years later.

I was living with HH and braving the congested New Jersey highways to and from work every day. It seemed that I would get into near collisions weekly with a Garden State-er because I couldn’t concentrate on my driving, instead counting the number of highway median stripes I drove by and trying to match them to the beat of whatever song was on the radio. I’d always try to get three stripes per beat of the music. Thinking that was totally normal, I told HH. Her response was that it was completely not and I should see a doctor stat.

I did and the doctor diagnosed me with a minor, minor case of OCD. He prescribed some meds and my counting stopped.

Until I stopped my meds.

After that, the obsession continued, morphing from three to nine (three times three), then 27 (nine times 3) and the eventually 39 (3 and 9). I’d count everything: the number of times I breathed, the syllables of a sentence I heard, the number of times I chewed my food and even how I masturbated (I won’t go any further as my mom is probably reading this).

I read up a bit on OCD and it said that very often it’s genetic, so I asked my mom about it. When I was home one visit, I sat her down and told her that I had OCD. ‘What’s your number?’ she asked, as if she had been waiting for this question my whole life. I told her I was a 39 and she told me she was a former 10, but now a 22 and that’s why she was always pressing down on my back. She counted everything, too.

So, I had finally figured out where my obsession came from and what it meant. That was, until a few years ago…

It when I was in architecture graduate school and I was working on a project with a girl we all un-affectionately referred to a Horse Laugh Girl (that should be self-explanatory). We were trying to determine the location of some punched windows in a concrete wall and, out of the blue she says ‘I’m sorry this is hard for me, I’m totally OCD.’

‘Oh my God,’ I exclaimed,’ (this before people said OMG) ‘What’s your number?’ I asked, thinking I had found a sympathetic spirit. She looked at me the same way I imagine the Israelites looked at Moses when he first told him God had spoken to him via a burning bush on top of a mountain. Realizing she didn’t know what I was talking about and that she totally didn’t have OCD we went about our project, never to speak of her lie again.

Then I started listening…it was as if everyone was declaring their self-diagnosed OCD. Someone was late for class…it was their OCD; a professor broke up with her boyfriend…it was her OCD; there was an eclipse…it was the Earth’s OCD.

I thought it was an isolated incident…until HH met her soon-to-be husband.

I was visiting HH and we went over to her boyfriend’s parent’s house, where his brother’s baby-mama was living. The three of us were in their basement looking through old pictures when she found one of her baby-daddy. She holds it up and with a white-trash smirk said ‘Look at him, total skater fag.’ HH looked at me and I scowled at baby-mama.

‘I’m so sorry.’ she said, knowing she had totally fucked up. ‘I’m bi-polar.’ I couldn’t help myself, so I asked ‘What does being bi-polar have to do with being a bigot?’ Of course, she had no answer, so she slinked upstairs and hid in her bedroom the rest of the day.

What is it with people now a days? I feel as if nothing is ever anyone’s fault anymore. Their lack of design capability can be attributed to OCD and someone’s narrow mindedness can be simplified to a rather serious mental illness.

You hear it all the time. Someone doesn’t hear what you say…it’s their ADD; someone’s having a bad day…they’re schizophrenic; I cry when Trinity died at the end of the third Matrix movie…it’s because I’m depressed.

We’re a society of self-diagnosis and I say it’s time to stop. You don’t have OCD, you just can’t make up your mind; you’re not bi-polar, you’re just an ignorant redneck, and I’m not depressed, I just really liked the Matrix trilogy and didn’t want it to end.

I’m not trying to minimize mental illness. Luckily, my OCD has faded into oblivious, but I know there are a lot people out there that deal with some serious struggles every day, but I don’t think they use it as a crutch to defend their inadequacies.

My advice to all those self-diagnosers out there…

If you think you’re OCD, watch ‘As Good As It Gets’…that’s OCD.

If you think you’re schizophrenic, watch ‘A Beautiful Mind’…that’s schizophrenia.

If you think you’re bi-polar, watch any season of ‘Real Housewives’…that’s bi-polar.

My advice to everyone else…

When you have a self-diagnoser tell you they’re whatever they think they are, ask them when they were diagnosed, what medication they’re taking. I imagine they won’t be able to answer either.

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