the beau and i watched ‘the aviator’ over the weekend. well, it started out with the intention of watching it as a sunday matinee, since its a three hour film. but we got a late start sunday, so we watched about half, and watched the remaining monday night. it covers a portion of the life of howard hughes, beginning with making ‘hells angels’ and up until after the successful flight of the ‘hercules’.
that poor man! i was really impressed with the things he accomplished, but even more so because he did it in spite of undiagnosed and untreated OCD and probably ADHD as well. both disorders were sever too, it seems. that had to be awful. he survived a terrible plane wreck on top of that, that left him scarred from cuts and burns. i love the way his mind worked, how he worked out his engineering designs, and how he confronted the senator who tried to publicly defame him. but my heart was really touched over the mental anguish he suffered. having had OCD really bad myself for a season, i could understand what he was feeling. there was one scene where he had washed his hands raw in the bathroom of a restaurant, and used up the towels, and then had no way to get out of the bathroom without touching the doorknob. i would have used my sleeve, or part of my shirt, but i never feared germs like he did. so there he stood, looking at the door, and wondering what to do. he leaned up against the wall by the door, and slipped out just after the next person came in. it worked out well.
during the early eighties is when i had my bout with the disorder. i was obsessed with getting rid of dust and dirt particles, and especially food crumbs of any kind, or anything greasy or oily. it was a daunting task. i also washed my hands all the time, till they were cracked and bleeding from the soap and water drying out my skin. i couldnt bring myself to use lotion. i would frequently shake my hair out in an effort to get any dust or whatever out of my hair while cleaning house – a ritual that took me about four hours to complete, which i did every two days. it was exhausting. when dusting a table or other piece of furniture i would feel i missed something, and repeat the process of wiping a table top over and over until i ‘got it right’. i had no idea i had OCD, or ever heard of it. i just thought i was way more picky than most. i had repetitive thoughts running through my head frequently. sometimes they were violent in nature, but would simply ignore them. it wasnt like i was tempted to act them out. they were more like tapes that wouldnt shut off. whenever i got stressed, i would feel the compulsions acutely. taking a shower was often a relief of the stress, because i felt clean afterwards.
i cant begin to tell you all the little things that were part of my rituals. there were just too many. it was only because i knew the Lord, and knew that deliverance was available to me, that i was able to get free of the bondage that OCD is. after crying out to God for help one day, feeling sick because i had spent so much time shaking my head to shake my hair out, that He spoke to me in that still small voice, and told me to treat it like a tyrant. He told me to stand up to it and tell it no. it wasnt real easy at first. the compulsions were strong, and i was used to satisfying them, not resisting them. however, when a strong compulsion arose to repeat a dusting ritual, after having wiped the table once well, i said allowed “no! im not going to do it again! its good enough!” i began to declare that it was truly impossible to live free of dust and particles, and that i was going to live with it and be ok with it. as i did this, the strength of the compulsion began to wane. it didnt take as long as i thought it would. the hardest step was the first, being willing to stand up to it. of course, it was not over night either. it was a part at a time. one issue at a time. the easiest was the dust and particles. the hardest has been food crumbs and greasy oily things. i still have strong dislikes for that. that may just be a part of my personal likes and dislikes. i still dont want to cook with flour, or fry anything. but thats not so bad. i dont like having bread in the house, or eating cookies in the house. im pretty anal about my phone and my desk area at work. but i dont do the obsessive rituals at all any more. cleaning takes me an hour or two every other week or so. but i wear gloves at home. thats one of my secrets. now you know.
still, ive overcome so much. but it has been only with Gods Word. i wonder, had mr hughes known that he could be free, with his determination and drive, how his later years could have been spent. how much more he would have gone on to do, if he hadnt been a prisoner in his own obsession, his rituals filling his days and nights. he could have know some peace. i wish i could have known him, so i could tell him what was possible. what is available.