Remember when you were a kid and at recess you played a game called lava monster? The ground was lava, and the people on the ground were lava monsters. And if you touched the ground or got tagged, you became a lava monster too. The winner was the last one standing. I remember playing that game and while everyone else was running and screaming and having fun, I was actually scared. I had fun, but the fun was tinged with real panic whenever a lava monster got close. It was always the same when I would play tag with my sister; I didn’t like the suspense of not knowing when the “monster” was going to reach out and touch you.
“The lava monster lives inside of me.”
My OCD is a lava monster. The ground is the lava, and anything that the lava monster touches also becomes a lava monster. I am the last one standing. But in this real life version, the game doesn’t end. I am living in constant suspense, not knowing when or what the lava monster is going to reach out and touch. I navigate my house like I navigated that playground when I was a kid. But this time the fear and the danger feel so much more real. I can’t yell “time out” or say that I’m done playing and then get to walk on home. Because my home is the lava, and the lava monster lives inside of me. I can’t touch the ground or things that have touched the ground. Chairs become lava monsters that I must dodge; a whole room can become enveloped with lava.
No one else can see the lava, just me. I’m the only one playing OCD’s game. OCD tricked me into signing up, telling me that this was the only way to survive. It finds joy in playing games with my mind. I can feel it taunting me; every time I start to feel safe, the lava monster will reach out and touch something unexpected and I’ll have to start running again. And because the lava monster lives inside of me, it’s as if my shadow has become the lava, dragging my fear behind me wherever I go.
I don’t want to play anymore. I spend my days trying to stop myself from running away from my little lava monster. If I could just stop running, it would stop chasing me; the game would be over and I would truly be the last one standing.