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Needles

OCD

OCD Without Apology

Needles.

Hypodermic needles were my first fear.  The doctor’s office became home to my nightmares.  Sharp objects—knives, spears, and swords—became my first obsession.  My first compulsion was to hold a sharp object against my chin—GI Joe’s scuba knife, a Fort Apache spear, or Galahad’s tiny sword—grit my teeth, and count.

When I was 13, I needed a booster shot.  In the weeks before it happened, I developed a new obsession: glass.  I collected sharp pieces of glass from the roads and sidewalks.  I collected rusted bottle caps.  I collected sharp stones.  It had never occurred to me before, but what if a sliver of glass gets caught in a car tire, gradually sinks deeper and deeper into the tread, and finally causes a blowout on the freeway?  If I didn’t keep filling my coat pockets with the dirty little “hazards” I plucked from the ground, someone might die in a car accident.

When I was 19, I rolled out of a moving car and ran as fast and as far as I could.  It probably saved my life. If it hadn’t been for the two black eyes, the gravel embedded in my back, and the two painful head wounds beneath my bloody hair, I would not have recalled anything but a chilling scream.  I desperately wanted to remember more. I wanted to remember more when I panicked without reason and pulled my car to the side of the road, when I turned and chased the images that lurked along the dark edges of my brain, when I told the story of how I’d rolled out of a car and mysteriously wakened entangled in an electric fence.

I remembered being alone.

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