This is part one of “My OCD Life Story, So Far.” For lack of a more clever title, let’s just call this…. “High School”:

There I would be, precariously standing on the chair or stool or whatever I had pulled across the carpet to my mirror, just to scrutinize and try on multiple outfits before going to bed at night. Most nights it took probably, oh, thirty minutes if I was lucky. But it was something I did ritualistically so that I knew what I was going to wear the next morning. Early morning seminary and a lack of sleep didn’t make outfit choosing particularly easy. Plus, left to the last minute, I would most likely freak out.

And then there was right before school, when I had to spend about ten minutes on the toilet. Nerves? Lactose intolerance? I didn’t know. But I got in the habit of carrying Immodium AD in my bag, just in case. Oh, and lactose pills.

And speaking of nerves, there was also the sweating. I seriously considering getting some of those really big bandaids, you know, the ones that you put on your knees when you fall off your bike or something? I was going to get those but to put under my arms. I hoped they might absorb the sweat so I wasn’t a soggy mess in my pits before second period. I never tried it, though I doubt that it would’ve worked. I must have convinced my mom to take me to the doctor instead because somehow I got this roll on medication that scared my armpit glands into submission. I had to put it on before bed, wrap my arm pits all the way around, above my shoulder and back under, with plastic wrap, and sleep like that. It hurt so bad, but it worked. I hardly sweat, even now, over a decade later.

Oh, and I was always self conscious. I would sit in a seat and stare at my thighs, wondering how they could be so wide. “Must have been all that jumping on the trampoline when I was little,” I would tell myself. I never thought that I could do anything about it. I figured I was just big boned or had permanently large quadriceps from all that bouncing.

And then there was the acne. I tried medication for that too. And creams. And popping, of course. I still pop. Even though I know it leaves scars (because hello, pock marked face, all the time). But I kept going. Luckily, I didn’t really get depressed about it. I guess I just figured it was part of teenage life. High school. Hormones. Puberty. I had a healthy dose of perfectionism and responsibility too, just for good measure, so being a quitter or hiding in my room wasn’t really going to cut it. I powered through, eventually finding out that I could do things that were cool or made me happy just because. Like going to shows and volunteering at all an ages music venue. Shopping at thrift stores and wearing pants that didn’t have “boot cut” in the name. Wearing Converse All Stars and working at a vintage clothing store. Listening to the Beatles and ska bands. Cutting my hair short and styling it spiky.

Okay, so the spiky short hair may have been a mistake, but at least it was my mistake, not something preppy high school culture pushed on me. And that boost of self confidence, inspired by taking charge of my own life, propelled me through high school, despite me not knowing exactly what I was up against.

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