Food and me have a complicated history. I’ve always been a big eater and have always enjoyed eating take-outs, at cafes or at resteraunts with my family. Despite how much I’ve loved food, it’s also been a large part of my OCD.
Throughout my childhood certain food was viewed by my OCD as ‘contaminated’. Not by germs ( although ‘germs’ was the terminology I used to use to describe the thing that was ‘contaminated’; a word later added to my language.) or an actual founded in reality, albiat very unlikely concern such as it having some sort of disease; my ‘contamination’ was different.
It was the grease from a bagel, the tomato ketchup from my brother’s hotdog, the slight possibility of a crumb from a sausage roll falling on my scarf when I’m on holiday to Centre Parcs e.t.c.
The thing that was different about my OCD as my phycologist pointed out later was that when I felt like the food had ‘contaminated’ me, I was never in fear of consequences like a loved one dying or getting sick from the food – the typical OCD fears that would fuel the compulsion ( or at least the typical line of thinking that if I do something or fail to do something, X, Y and Z will happen as a result. )
My OCD has rarely been like that. Don’t get me wrong – my OCD is by no means worse or better than any other person’s is – it’s just different presumably because I’m, well, autistic.
When I got ‘contaminated’ by food or any other thing I deemed undesirable, I was not afraid of something bad happening as a result – It was that I felt wrong and bad. It’s hard to explain the way being ‘contaminated’ feels. It’s not real, ‘contamination’ is a way for me to deal with life – I know. But the feeling is awful.
Something that one of my phycologists once said about my OCD being different to the traditional OCD made me think oneday in my appointment about how upon feeling ‘contaminated’ by apple juice – I searched on Google Images ‘celebrities with apple juice in their hair’.
I wanted ( and still do to a degree ) to be like ‘everyone else’, I looked at these ‘normal girls’ in my real life and celebrities. I looked at the girls in my class and on the TV, who I could never quite understand and found flaws in myself in ways that were unconventional. The worst part is that even if someone else got apple juice on them for example – that was okay! They were not ‘contaminated’ because it was only me who got contaminated…
Because at the end of the day my OCD is not about preventing something bad from happening, I think my OCD is about my autism.
So that brings my point to today. I go out and buy spicy chips from the shops, food I buy with my own money that I truly don’t need as I’ve already ate. I eat them and now I feel the familiar feeling of being ‘contaminated’. I feel greedy because I did not need to eat them and I hate myself slightly for being so greedy.
So tonight I showered, giving into my OCD and as I sit here late at night on what would have been a school night had I still been in school ( a transition that my autism is struggling to comprehend – that I’m no longer in high school ) and a plan to hang out with a friend for drinks tomorrow and all I can think about is how those spicy chips made me feel.
But we all know it’s not really about spicy chips. It’s because I have a social event tommorrow and I’m nervous. It’s because I’m realising that I am no longer a child and have new challenges. It’s because I am autistic. I just wish my brain would believe it.