“Do. Or do not. There is no try.”
~Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back~
Where did I leave off? Oh, right, yes. Last I checked, I wasn’t hallucinating. I certainly did not partake of any extracurricular activities such as baking my brains or drowning in liquor to cause me to hallucinate and carry on a conversation with a person who should not even exist. I wasn’t sleeping or dreaming; I should know, I still have the bruises on my arm where I pinched myself several times. I definitely don’t have any kind of multiple personality disorder last I checked. I checked off all the ‘I ain’t crazy’ boxes and I’m left with one inescapable conclusion :
It was all in my head. Yes, that’s gotta be it.
But try as I might, I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days afterwards. Whatever that was, he/it didn’t show up again, and I was perfectly okay with that. I had felt a little…off…since that encounter because it seemed so real to me at the time. So real and vivid. More vivid than an ordinary daydream or nightmare; vivid enough for me to remember the troubling words this…thing…said to me that night. Little did I know that it would come back to make me question my sanity.
A few days has passed since the incident happened, and I just got around to thinking about what I wanted to write about. As is often normal for me, I had obsessed over the incident that night to the point of driving myself crazy when I finally gave up on it and told myself to move on, and chalk it up to being tired and overthinking. I had really worked myself up over the whole thing and it was time I put a stop to that.
Having finally been able to forget about the incident and move on from that, I freed up my mental energy to return to the project at hand : my writing. I sat down at my desk and started the research needed to get the project started and for a good half hour I immersed myself on the task. The beginnings of a solid idea for my writing was beginning to form within my mind when suddenly my reverie was broken by the now familiar sound of a high strung voice.
“No. You can’t do this. Nope. No. Nyet. Nein. Newp. No sirree. Nuh huh. It’s too much.”
Before I continue on this out of the world story, let me tell you a little about myself. Over the years, I have patented the use of the Sigh. I was, and am, quite the master of the Art of Sighing. I perfected it to an art form. Odd that, because I am severely hard of hearing, and yet, I mastered something that I can barely hear myself doing. It’s but a simple matter of taking a deep breath, and then breathing out in this otherworldly sigh that seems to reverberate in the air around me. Here’s a good example :
“Hey, want to…”, my mom would start to ask me.
“Hey, can you…”, my sister would ask before I’d break out in yet another patented SIGHSSSS…
Sees drama on Facebook, as usual. Sigggghhhhhhs…….
Yep. I created a whole new language based on Le Sigh. Anywho, back to the story at hand.
I muttered back at the voice behind me. “Go away. Git. Gwan. Get out of my head.”
“But…”, the high strung voice started to object.
And then there was blessed silence. But just briefly. Just very briefly.
I continued my research for another few minutes in blessed silence when out of the corner of my eye I saw a flashing light. Nope, make that two flashing lights. I ignored them, intent on my research. But yet, those flashing lights annoyed the ever loving shit out of me, and apparently, so did it annoy something else too because yet another voice disrupted the silence of the room. The same voice, but…somehow different. High strung still, but with a hint of shakiness in it that the other didn’t have. I spun around in my chair, banging my knee in the process and letting out a slew of curses to make a sailor blush. I blinked and looked at the figure before me as he repeated what he said just a moment earlier.
“Aren’t you going to answer that?”, the figure pointed at the screen behind me.
I eyed the figure that seemingly came straight out of my worst day dream, or my best nightmare, and saw that this figure dressed like me. Sounded like me. Acted like me. Looked like me. Or him. Or it. Whatever. The tell tale signs of the blurry outlines of his body was still there, but yet there was something very different about him. His hair was a mess; his clothes were wrinkled; one shoe was tied, the other wasn’t; and try as he might, he couldn’t straighten his hair, or crease out the wrinkles or even tie the one shoelace that remained perpetually untied. He was clearly even more agitated then the figure before him, and it showed.
“C’mon, answer that, will ya?!”, the figure pointed at the screen again, quite agitatedly.
I stared at the figure standing before me, and without another word, I turned around to check the messages left on my desktop and on my phone. Both were minor annoyances from Facebook, the kind of annoying messages we all get when someone says “Hi!”, or “What’s up bro!”, or “Hey sexy, A/S/L?”. You know, the kind you ignore and leave on read just to piss off the person who is messaging you.
I turned back around to look at the figure and noted that he was halfway successful to making himself look a wee bit neater, if that was possible. His one shoe was now tied, his shirt seemed to be lacking a few less wrinkles, and even better, his hair was patted down and passable.
“Who are you?”, I asked him bluntly, wanting answers and now. I wasn’t expecting the hilarious conversation that ensued after.
“You.”, he answered promptly, seemingly unconcerned as to what that may just sound like.
“Yes, I’m you.”
“Are you saying you are me?”
“You are me.” I repeated in a tone of voice, low and steady. Disbelieving.
“So…voices in my head. Great.”
“Yes. But no.”
“What???”, I replied in utter confusion.
The figure sighed. And I mean did he SIGGGGGHHHHED. I was pretty cross about that cuz I was kind of proud of my patented SIGHS. How dare he make use of my patented sigh! The apparition, if you want to call it that, explained in a rather condescending voice that infuriated me even further.
“I am you. You are me. Yes, I am in your head, but yet…I am real.”, he replied slowly as if he was speaking to a child.
“So, let me get this straight”, I answered back crossly, not in the mood to play around anymore, “I’m talking to myself, which of course makes me sound like I am going insane. I am seeing things that no other person can see or hear. And here you are, telling me that you are as real as I am, flesh and blood and all. Did I hear that correctly? That I’m ready for the straitjacket and a trip to the loony bin?”
The figure sat down on the floor and proceeded to straighten out his wrinkled clothes and his now again messy hair. I watched him with no small measure of incredulity before he finally looked at me and replied with a serious tone of voice.
“Yes, you are talking to yourself. That’s correct, you can only see us, and you can only hear us. Yes, you heard correctly. Therefore, you are correct.”
I stared at him in utter confusion. “Us?”
“Us.”, I responded with the straightest, most blank look I could muster. It was a dangerous look.
“What. Do. You. Mean. US!!”, I growled at him loudly, clearly out of my wits.
The figure responded just as promptly, with an explanation that seemed to defy belief now, but would come to make sense later.
“Do you remember a few years ago, one particular conversation you had with a next door neighbor? The one who asked about your…disability? Yes? Well, that remark of hers about it all being in your head. It stung, didn’t it? To you, it sounded like you were just making it up. Making it out to be all in your head, that you were using it for an excuse, right? And you knew that wasn’t right because your anxiety was very real. That you were making shit up. And I remember feeling upset about it. You do too. Still do.”
He paused for a moment, looking at my face for a moment and seeing the beginnings of understanding. He pressed on.
“I am your OCD. The other day, your Anxiety. We are you. You are us. We are in your head, but we are real. As real as you. You, and only you, can hear us, see us. Talk to us. Because what you see, what you hear, it’s all in your head, but to you, it’s very, very real. And it should be. We are figments of your imagination, yet we are not figments of your imagination. We are memories of a long forgotten hurt, or pain. We are thoughts come to being when you faced a traumatic incident that made us what we are. We are your mind made real to protect you from those incidents that could have changed you and what made you today. We are you, and you are us. Simple as that.”
And without warning…the figure called OCD disappeared.
I sat there slack jawed, my mind numbed over the conversation that just happened. It made tons of sense, but yet, it didn’t.
Apparently, I have a lot to think about.
Moral of the story? Acceptance and understanding what you have, and what you suffer from. And why. You need the courage to accept that it’s a part of you, and always will be. You need the understanding of why you have it, and what triggers it. And lastly, the love to understand and accept that it’s a part of the unique person that you are.