Fear and Loathing in Andres

Evan Kam

I hear a bump in the road as I drive. Did I hit a dog? I hear another bump in the road. Did I hit a child? I drive on. I, then, see the images of me committing these actions.

The memory won’t stop. It haunts me as I drive. I begin to sweat, I begin to worry about what I’ve done. Am I so callous as to hit an innocent child in the road and not stop? The guilt consumes me as I start to think about calling the police, and yet I don’t. I do nothing. My body and mind tell me how wrong I am. The sweat collects at my brow.

Eventually, I get to my destination and I take a look at my front bumper. I check to see nothing– no dog, no child and no evidence of any wrongdoing. Perhaps after the amount of time and distance I have been on the road, maybe the evidence just fell off.

I am home; I see the news. There were arrests. I wonder when the police are going to catch me. I was not at this arrest but maybe it could have been me.

After being home, and watching TV. I take to the streets again. My death machine hurls me past one car and another as I drive the speed limit.

Again. I hear a bump. Not again. My constant fear.

I have never hit a child while driving. I have no warrants to be arrested for.

So often I would have these fears of my wrong doing that I have never done. I once thought I killed OJ’s wife. The reason the glove did not fit the defendant was because it was mine. I remember buying that glove.

It does not matter that it was four years before my birth. It was me.

My imagination so often puts me at fault for many wrong doings. The more spectacularly wrong and illogical it would be for me to be the culprit, the more a part of me thinks it’s true.

Sometimes it seems silly. Yes, it was actually me driving that Bronco on June 17, 1994.

Sometimes it’s not something as trivial as the O.J. case.

Most times it’s nothing. Sometimes it’s something close.

At one time it was my mother. She died of cancer. I then think about what I did that led to this. Cancer isn’t contagious but perhaps I did something. What did I do?

I think about all the carcinogenic things in life. What if I, like the smoke her husband breathed, was cancerous. Like the cancer eating her body, the guilt ate at me.

Every drive to chemo, every drive to get blood drawn and inevitably the drive to hospice, I was filled with guilt.

I always thought that maybe I did something to increase my mother’s chance of cancer. All the convoluted process I would think of to rationalize how I could have done this awful thing. All ridiculous, but I would still think about them nonetheless.

Many different types of guilt and shame would eat at me at this time.

So often I would be complimented by some nurse, doctor or family member for simply being there. I hated it. I hated them in those instances. Every compliment only reminded me how little I’ve done. The thought that I never did enough was persistent.

Like my other thoughts, they are compulsive.

Once a specific thought would come, I would be obsessed.

Many times I would inevitably end up sabotaging my comfortability with some wild thought I just could not let go. From peace to fear and guilt.

This type of thinking has existed in me for as long as I can remember. One of my earliest memories was when I was in 4th grade and the only thing I could think about was that one day I am going to die. Everything I know in life from: me, to my friends, family, state, country, world and universe are going to end one day.

Many times throughout my teenage years, this thought would persist. At one point it became so troublesome that I confessed to my guardian that I was not well and needed to see a psychiatrist.

At the clinic and talking to the doctors this feeling that there was nothing they could do overcame me so we left. I assume I was at fault for not properly verbalizing what I was experiencing.

Now that I am older and slightly smarter, I can see now that I was experiencing obsessive and persistent thoughts that I could not let go despite any effort.

Two qualities the DSM V describes as criteria for OCD are obsession and compulsions.

The DSM V defines obsessions as “persistent ideas, thoughts, impulses, or images that are experienced as inappropriate or intrusive and that cause anxiety and distress. The content of the obsession is often perceived as alien and not under the person’s control.”

They also define compulsions as “repetitive behaviors or mental acts that are carried out to reduce or prevent anxiety or distress and are perceived to prevent a dreaded event or situation.”

I laugh at how accurately these define my behaviors. It feels like these definitions were constructed to describe me personally.

I do not know if I have OCD but I do know that I experience these traits quite often.

I hate reading how cliche my symptoms are. It’s like there’s no escape from me having this.

I do not want to have OCD, I do not want to be different in any way. I pride myself in my normality. I take pride that I am like everyone else.

I assumed we all felt constant guilt and fear. That at every point we all thought about the worst thing they could do in any potential situation. The thoughts of just saying something to ruin your reputation. The thoughts that you actually already did the horrible thing.

Perhaps I am more like the .5% of men who have OCD, than I am to my contemporaries. Most likely so.

After a few sparse conversations, I have come to know not everyone feels this apparently.

So oftenly before walking into a room I would have the biggest fear. The fear would be that they are staring at me and they know what I did. I didn’t know what I did but the fear would persist.

I don’t know if I have come to normalize these thoughts so as to not think them so often, or think them so seriously or if this thought process is dependent on some time of the year.

It isn’t always like this.

Maybe they manifest in other ways I would only know retrospectively or if I were to think about it.

Compulsive thoughts, intrusive thoughts and compulsions won’t ever leave me but maybe they can get better.

I see celebrities with OCD tendencies, that helps me. I am glad I am in good company. I am pretty much like Katy Perry. Howard Stern is my spirit animal. Me and Kayne are twins.

I’ve known for years that I showed these signs but decided to not see anyone so I could keep pretending. I’ve preferred the ambiguity that existed by not seeing a doctor. If I never saw a doctor or psychologist I can always say I’m not diagnosed so of course I don’t have OCD.

As of now I’d never say I have OCD. Not without a professional diagnosis. I am not qualified in any way to make these kinds of determinations. But it’s probably time I see someone and accept that it’s a possibility.

For now I am normal like everyone else.

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