Our Blog

“counting to ten” by Christian Gilmer

When I was thirteen, I noticed

I noticed that something wasn’t quite right,

that every time I walked into a room I could see things.

The chairs and cups facing the wrong direction,

I could see the disorder in the color scheme,

See the numbers on the wall and what color they matched with,

See every single speck of dirt and every germ…

And when I was thirteen, I noticed…

I noticed that my mind wasn’t working the way it normally did,

That things just weren’t fitting together like they used to.

I noticed that I had this thing called “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder”.

And what this means is that,

Every second

Of every minute

Of every hour

Of every day,

I’m constantly analyzing,

Observing everything around me,

Pinpointing everything that doesn’t “suit my fancy”.

And it seems so commonplace these days,

To quote literally every person I’ve ever spoken to,
“I’m so OCD”

As a younger child, a lot of things stressed me out.

New people, new places, pretty much anything that had to deal with change

And as a younger child, I was taught to count to ten

To close my eyes,

Plug my ears,

And count to ten

And all of the hustle and bustle and fuss of everyday life would fade away

And every time I walked into a new situation,

All I saw was a sea of staring eyes, judging and critiquing

Noticing every move I made, knowing all flaws and soft spots

And every time I walked into a new place,

Mom would tell me,

“go find a table,

Close your eyes,

Plug your ears,

And count to ten”

So that’s what I did…

I counted to ten.

  1. Did I check the doorknob three times or only two? Because if I only checked it twice then it’s just not right, then I might as well have not checked it at all. I didn’t, I didn’t check it three times. I bet you right now someone is in my house, sorting through all of our memories and just picking and choosing like a lot at the swap meet.
  2. The volume on the TV has to be 37 because 3 is blue and 7 is green and blue and green are good, so 3 and 7 are good, and 3 plus 7 is 10, and 3 times 7 is 21, and 2 plus 1 is 3, and 2 minus 1 is 1, and 7 minus 3 is four, which is a perfect square, so it just has to be 37
  3. I wonder if all of these people notice when it’s really bothering me. I wonder if they saw me when I walked in, saw the horrified look on my face when I realized that there would be more than 3 people at a popular restaurant on Friday night. I wonder if they watched me put my head down and shut my eyes and plug my ears and start counting as my legs shook.
  4. Maybe they didn’t notice. Maybe they didn’t pay any attention at all. Probably not though. They probably think that I’m some emotionally disturbed young man. They probably know that I’m some emotionally disturbed young man

Six. You probably noticed how I skipped five, and how I spelled out six, and I did that because 5 is red and red is bad so 5 is bad, and I just hate how the number six curls up like its afraid. What does it have to be afraid of?

7. I want to check that doorknob right now

7. I want to check the doorknob right now

7. I want to check the doorknob so bad it burns

Burning, itching, crawling about like germs upon my unclean palms from touching that damn doorknob

8. So doctor…when am I supposed to be able to let these things go?

9. So doctor…when am I supposed to be able to control these impulses?

10. So doctor…when can I be happy? When can I finally be positive?

10. So doctor…when can I stop counting?