Note from Steph: what follows are typical internal cancelling out/swapping patterns in ocd. Matthew is able to describe those now, looking back, but he was non-verbal when it all started. Then later, although he had language, he kept it all inside for years. So from the outside, people only saw the somewhat odd and seemingly irrational behaviours, when inside, a whole set of complex patterns were being devised in order to cope with recurring intrusive thoughts. Add to that the social and communication issues of the asd… so he wasn’t avoiding old people because they were wrinkly (I was in the group!) from a sensory/visual point of view, it was because every time an old person showed up, an “alarm” rang from the ocd side to urge for the need of a younger one to show up, to be even… and no, it’s not a question of ignoring the crazy thoughts we all get from time to time, those that evaporate on their own as quickly as they came. In ocd, they keep on coming and jump in front of everything else. It’s literally unbearable, so one ends up trying to look for a younger person, unaware that all the while they are making the problem even worse for later when it starts again. Thought I would explain, so Matthew’s post can be better understood. Same with the feet: it wasn’t about touching feet (and we had to be super vigilant about that), it stemmed from one situation when he was little when he thought someone should wear shoes instead of going bare feet! Lack of communication skills, worries about it… and there you have the start of another ocd spiral that lasted a few years, and got so strong that characters and voices started to appear, causing a lot of confusion, guilt and distress. When finally we could talk about it, armed with undertsanding, it would start to de-escalate with the 4 steps strategies. So the fact Matthew can now write about it, especially as the characters then stayed on and led to his accident, years later, is quite amazing for us to see. Enough from me, this is Matthew’s blog after all!
I was born healthy but I started to have febrile compulsion that lasted hours.
We went to Chicago in the United States and saw Dr Chez who put electrodes on my head for few days.
The doctor was better than the English doctors we had.
I stopped having fits and went back to normal.
I started to avoid people in different gender, ages and races.
Because if I had contact with anyone, anything would be turned different in my mind.
But I stopped avoiding girls and women because I wanted to touch some people’s feet.
Then I went back to avoid the people after I was told not to try and touch again.
I carried on thinking about children’s feet and young women’s feet.
A character started to walk in front of the person’s feet in my mind.
The character and more tried to stop me from thinking about the feet.
I started to have voices in my head; “swap.”
Then I replied “swap.”
Because it was the only way to swap back in my mind.
My thought wanted to turn a boy into a man, and a woman into an old woman, while a girl would be turned into a young woman.
I was going to avoid my old grandfather when we would see him in France.
Because my brother went to South Africa but Mum didn’t want me to avoid him.
So I stopped thinking about anything in my mind but anyone out of my mind.
But it took time for me to stop avoiding anyone who was different because my feeling was too strong.
My thought wanted to put women and children in shoes, in my mind.
I had to say even in or out of my mind;
“love girl’s feet, hate boy’s feet.”
And my thought swapped them in my mind.
I said even in or out of my mind; “no for both.”
And my thought swapped them back in my mind as if I wanted when I didn’t want.
But I later became better in any way.
So that anyone and anything were more important than anything in my mind, but it took time.