I wake from my sleep and sit bolt upright in my bed. Did I just hear something in the house? There’s light coming through our bedroom door, which is cracked open so the cats can come and go. I glance at the clock. One forty-one in the morning.I glance at my hubby, who is fast asleep with his head buried beneath his pillow. Clearly he hasn’t heard a thing. I’m not afraid as I hear noises coming from down the hall – something moving against the wood floorboards. I get out of bed and walk down the hallway, eyes squinting as they adjust to the light.
I’m not surprised by what I see. It’s Blake putting the last pieces of laundry back into a hamper that had apparently just fallen as he’d struggled to take it to the laundry room. The laundry hamper is stuffed fuller than it ever had a right to be. Bed linens – a multitude of them – spill over the edges, making the hamper top heavy and burdensome. Before I finish my walk I already have the sense that OCD is here with us.
“Blake, what are you doing?”
My seventeen-year-old is distracted by this task he is involved with.
“I have so much laundry to do. My bed is all messed up. I think the cats peed on my bed stuff.”
“Can you turn out some of these lights?” I ask. There are four different sets of lights on.
He tries to stuff three comforters and one blanket into our washing machine. The washing machine is not expanding to fit the load, yet he keeps struggling.
“B, that’s too much. It won’t fit.”
“It has to.”
“Even if you get it in, it’ll damage the machine.”
“But how will I ever get all this laundry done?” he wonders, more to himself than to me.
“You’ll get it done one load at a time.”
“But my bed…my bed is so messed up…”
I wander into his bedroom with him and I instinctively sniff the sheets for the telltale cat pee smell. I already know I won’t smell anything. Blake keeps his bedroom door shut all the time. The cats don’t go in there.
“Honey, this is your OCD getting to you and trying to take charge.”
Blake looks at me wide-eyed. For the first time in this exchange I really see him. His skin looks clammy. There’s panic hanging over him. His eyes are vacant; Blake is not home.
“I want to clean. All I want to do is clean,” he says rapidly. Then he makes his way back to the laundry room.
I realize that my being there is not helping the matter. I’m too tired and I don’t have much patience in this state. I follow him to the laundry room.
“How will I ever get all this laundry done?”
“Blake, I’m going back to sleep honey.”
Blake doesn’t acknowledge me. I shut off two sets of lights as I make my way back down the hallway.
“Our son is having a psychotic break,” I mutter.
The hubby pulls the pillow from his head.
“What?” he responds. I can tell he’s disoriented.
“Oh, I was just babbling that B is having a psychotic break. I know it’s not funny. Poor guy is down the hallway doing laundry and freaking out that the cats peed in his bed.”
And just like that he pulls the pillow back over his head. In the early days of OCD this scene would have had us both out of bed trying to coax our son to go to sleep. Now it’s just part of the fabric of our days (and nights). I feel for my son as I drift lazily back to sleep. As I hear him fumbling in the distance, I know things will be better in the morning – at least the panic will have passed and I’ll see my son back behind those eyes. For now, it’s just another episode on our journey and in the life of a teen who says he can deal with this all on his own.