Monday, November 9, 2015

My Story, Part 1

I was always an incredibly sensitive and anxious kid. I cannot remember a time when I wasn’t afraid and certain that something bad was going to happen. Images I saw on television were scorched into my mind. The quicksand on the Tarzan movie was waiting to suck me down when I hopped out of bed. The disease that took the girl in the song on the radio was just around the corner. I had all the symptoms. I didn’t know what they were, but I had them.

Then in the spring of 1975, I saw it. The last portion of a bad TV movie about a ship in the hands of the devil. Dead people came back to life possessed by Satan himself. I was terrified. Over the next few months I couldn’t get that out of my mind. Any sense of peace and safety that I had ever had (which was not much to begin with) was gone. It was up to me to keep myself safe and I really wasn’t up to the task.

I tried, though. I made up rules for my life. Rituals to protect me. Turn the light on and off 6 times and the devil would get me, but 7 times and I was safe. Certain numbers scared me to death. Every shadow meant I was toast.

I ceased to function and was finally sent to a psychologist. I never told anybody my fears. I didn’t know how to verbalize my horror. They did all sorts of testing and determined I was a mess because I was gifted but couldn’t function under stress and told the teacher to go easy on me. Then they put me on an antidepressant.

I suppose that I had a diagnosis. Depression? Anxiety? I have recently read that OCD was not even an official diagnosis back then and I doubt the professionals even knew of the mental gyrations and games I played to keep myself safe. (Interestingly enough, I have read that the average age of onset is 11 years old. I met with the psychologist the week before my 12th birthday.)

The antidepressant worked and, after about 6 months, it seemed like I had grown out of my “problems.” If only…..

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