Hard getting out of the car.
My feet felt reluctant as
I dragged myself into the gardens.
My mind was full of start and stops,
jerky, telling me I had to
jot down endless words.
Mom said, “Come on! Ten steps
and I’ll help you spell the next one.”
I knew she was trying to help me move,
but my feet kept stopping.
I had to keep jotting.
Then she challenged me,
“If we get to the top of the hill,
we can sit down!”
Off she went, striding ahead,
I got going… I had a goal…
Felt good to move those legs,
breathe in the soft late afternoon air,
golden, then rosy, then gray.
The obsessions lifted
as my feet picked up.
The canopy above was dark and green.
The forest dampened the noise
in my spirit.
We made it to the top.
I sat by a fountain, tinkling water,
white foam decorating the edges.
Mom turned on music,
“Fields of Gold.”
I got up to dance.
“Slow, quick, quick,”
the rhythm of the dance
phased in and out.
It carried me out of my OCD
like a gentle wave.
The late afternoon turned to twilight,
and darkness was descending fast.
We hurried down into the darkening forest.
As we exited the gate,
something seized me.
“Target,” I had to
Mom sat me down on the curb.
We googled the distance.
Ten miles, 3 hours, 8 minutes.
To earn points for a trip to the store,
I did grammar,
sentence after sentence of
pronouns, past participles, and commas.
Too dark to see.
“Let’s go home to earn some more points, Peter,” said Mom.
So I got into the car.
We drove home to a tasty dinner.
by Peter Tran
What’s it like to live with OCD? Yesterday Peter wrote this reflection at the end of the day. It describes the stuttering of the stop-go switch in the basal ganglia as he tried to walk into Descanso Gardens. Then Peter tried to cope with a set of words obsessively echoing in his mind by writing them down. We finally got him going up the hill at a good clip by using his desire to sit down at a favorite spot, and broke his bondage for a brief moment with the natural beauty and peace of the gardens and with ballroom dancing at the top of the hill (music from my iphone). Sadly, the relentless OCD assailed him again at the exit with a crazed obsession to walk all the way to Target. As Peter would not enter the car, we tried earning access points by doing grammar practice sentences, as an attempt to reengage the frontal lobes. It did work, along with natural hunger and the dark of night, to see the reason in getting into the car to return home.
OCD is not something we can conquer, but we try to get around it by “living” in the space between obsessions. Not an easy dance.
Please pray for us, and for all families living this struggle.