Chapter 2 - Sheets, Blankets and Lying Still - Living With OCD

My OCD started when I was just five. Chapter one of my story can be found here. This is chapter two of my mental health journey.

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Growing up with OCD

Bedtime, the word that would ruin anything when it was spoken. The game that you had been playing, the film you were watching or the book that had stole your heart. Bedtime is boring. Being somewhat normal at this time bedtime for me wasn’t, something to be scared of, well apart from when I had read a ghost story or sneaked out an old school Nightmare on Elm Street or Halloween Movie and watched them from behind the trusty sofa. At those times I was scared and I had a right to be! I guess you could say it was a time where I would be slightly on edge but not because of idea of bed but because of what was going on at home. My parents at many times would have blazing arguments over things and after seeing and hearing it I wouldn’t want to go to bed and leave them alone to it. It was a what if situation because anything could happen.

Bedtime always was the same and the fact I was older, the proud age of seven the time would have been around 7.30. I would do the standard routine of  brushing my teeth, putting on my little pj’s and get into bed. Sometimes I would read a book or other times I would just get to sleep ready for a day at school.

My fear of bedtime came about one night when I was lying in bed. My room, at the time was blue and I had an arrangement of all my toys on a shelf at the other end of the room. I had my trusty soft penguin toy which was given to me at the fair and at that moment on it was my baby (and still is) The same four walls and strangely slanted ceiling were the same. The smell of the bedsheets were normal and I was just me. My bed in which I lay had a sheet which I would sleep under and a duvet. Everything was normal, or as normal as it could be.. I awoke on this standard evening and something broke again inside my head. I could feel that the sheet was becoming untucked and I was scared and I’m talking bloody scared. It wasn’t the fact that I was uncovered or that the cool wall was slightly touching my leg. It was because it wasn’t in place, like it should be. This was the moment Mr OCD awoke and started barking his orders at me over the said sheet. “It’s not right, it’s not right” echoed in my head. It was after midnight on a school night and I was trying to make my bed. God I was a parents dream at that time, I was trying to make my own bed.. Wow! It just so happens it was in the middle of the night with no idea of what I was doing, in a state of panic fed by OCD. Not so dreamy now eh?

The girl who had gone to bed that night was gone and had been replaced with someone who was now sitting on the floor biting her sheets in anger at fact it had become un-tucked. I can imagine someone walking in the room and seeing me in this state they would think I have lost it or I had a thing for eating sheets. The voice in my head was screaming at me to tuck the bed in. I was alone, scared and couldn’t dare go wake anyone up over this. I had been up now for a few hours holding the sheet in my hands and I was weak and tired. The voice went on to say that “if I don’t get the bed made something bad will happen”. I took this as my call and I made the bed the best I could. I was there alone in a dim-lit room pulling my mattress up and shoving a sheet under it. I got back in and fell into a deep sleep the kind of one you do when you have exerted yourself. Night time was now scary.

The next night for me couldn’t have been worse going to bed. OCD had made it clear that the sheets couldn’t become untucked and it was my mission to prevent it from happening. Getting into bed that night I took it upon myself to be slow, gentle and get in without pulling anything. I lay there in bed on my back not moving. I thought that I shouldn’t breath as heavy because that could untuck the bed so I was taking short breaths. I was scared that when I fell asleep I would turn over and thus untuck the sheet so I kept my eyes open and tried to make patterns on the ceiling, as we had that old school wallpaper that had lumps and bumps. Time was moving and before I knew it everyone else was in bed. Hours had passed with me lying still, not moving. I fought the feeling of needing to sleep by trying to picture in my head the whole movie of The Little Vampire. I awoke to a thud of myself falling against the bed, I had the falling dream so I must have fallen asleep. This was the moment when I thought I was going to die. My heart felt like it was in my mouth and the beating rhythm was a haunting melody. This to me was the point where I let OCD into my life more because I asked aloud what I should to do prevent myself dying. The reply was “don’t let the sheets become un-tucked”. Oh if it was that easy!  I got myself up and I made the bed, I got back into bed and I lay there again. I would fall asleep and I would awake in panic and again I would make the bed. I guess you could call this the bedtime routine?

The weeks and months passed and I was still obsessed with the bed. I had even got my mum involved by asking her to tuck me in tight before I went to sleep. I didn’t dare tell her what was going on with the voice inside my head because if I did, something bad would happen. Life at this time was hard. On top of this new problem my home life wasn’t good. The arguments and fights that could break out at any time were happening more and the fear of something bad happening to mum whilst I was at school was getting worse. I was neck deep in it all. Getting to school on only a few hours sleep was hard and I was still trying all the tricks in the book to get a day off, talc on the face anyone? It strikes me strange now looking back that nobody noticed how tired I was and not with it. I was sat in the classroom one day and I was away with the fairies. I didn’t want to be there. I felt claustrophobic and hot because the thoughts had once again started but this time they were images, like a movie. These were coming to me like no tomorrow and were pulling at every part of my body. They felt and looked real as if I was watching a film. I could see my mum being murdered, her body on the floor covered in blood and then it would change to her being run over in town and everyone crowding round looking at her body. It would then go onto her packing her bags and leaving to never come back, she had abandoned me and left me with my dad. This happened within seconds and I had had it, I had enough and I told the teacher I felt really sick and she sent me to the office. I vowed to myself that day that I needed to do everything in my power to prevent all these things from happening. I sat on the office chair with a plastic cup of water and made the list in my head, as I planned things my anxiety would rise and cause a sudden outburst of tears. “She feels sick the poor thing” they said. Oh if only they knew.