It wasn't until my mid 20s while watching a documentary on Obsessive Compulsive Disorder that I realized there was an actual name for the constant mental nagging that ruled a part of my life from the age of about 10 until I was around 16 years old.
OCD is interesting in that it's an extreme nagging of the mind that prompts people to the specific compulsion. Until that nagging is satisfied, there is a frequency of doing something one is pulled to satisfy but if any element to the pattern or rhythm is thrown off, it resets the entire cycle. This is the way it was for me anyway. One almost needs a degree in mathematics to follow what went on in my mind in the way of numbers.
For me, it was about balance; it was about even numbers but also mirror imaging whatever I did in the same even number pattern. My mind liked sets of 4s but the number of sets were also in 4s. MY OCD got way more complicated than that however. So when I sniffed (yes, sniffed...I always had the sniffles due to bad allergies...still do just not as bad) for example, I would have to do so in incriments of 4s on one side then repeat through the other nostril in increiments of 4s. If when during one of those cycles, one side happen to take over when it wasn't it's "turn", it would disrupt the whole thing aggravating my OCD even more so and I'd have to begin again only beginning first with the opposite side completing (incorrectly albeit it) the first patterns THEN mirror imaging it. Get all that? I feel your pain. That was the stress I had in my head controlling the situation a lot of the time never mind the headache pressure that I often had from sniffing so much to satisfy the damn thing.
In some cases like mine, it can drive someone fucking nuts just to satisfy this mental nagging. Some of the things that the compulsion manifests itself as can sound funny or harmless but to the one suffering, that's far from the truth of their experience. Some people are quite literally trapped in their lives from it and need serious help managing it. Mine wasn't enjoyable by any stretch but it was embarrassing, stressful and affected my health and wellness. I really couldn't stop until my mind said so. That's what OCD does.
It's really quite fascinating, this disorder. I love watching documentaries on it. The brain is such an amazing computer. When there's even the tiniest glitch, it can fuck up someone's mental well-being in a second.
Every so often tiny traces of that OCD reveal itself today only these days I favor trios. That's what gives me a sense of "balance" now aside of OCD. My favorite number is an odd number as well. Maybe that's me shooting the finger at the OCD demanding personal control over my thinker :) Thank goodness it's not at all extreme like it was before and most importantly, it's nowhere NEAR the same sense of mental nagging to satisfy the obsession which makes for significant increase in mental-well being which is so very important. It's more of an awareness of what once existed without the compulsion; a memory of what once was perhaps. In reflection I've learned that it matters not how well one's physical well-being is if they are not at peace mentally and spiritually.
Today, still a creature of balance, my yoga practice helps any residue of OCD left in me in so many ways. While I no longer struggle with OCD in the way I did when I was younger, the way I practice and facilitate practice; a way that encourages breaking the formal structure and ridgid form through fluidity and breath-driven spontaneous movement if you will, allows one permission to break symmetry and be with the possibility that "balance" can exist without it. One side of your body may be tighter than the other requiring more attention be it in a yoga posture, stretch, etc.
Somewhere between the spaces of my former extreme OCD and the practice I teach and share that encourages a deep understanding of the spontanious and liberation that can only be found in exploration, exists the place where I find the most balance not only in my body but in my recovering over-active mind. I have learned that "balance" is relative and different times of the year and periods of my life call on different actions to create a sense of balance.
If somehow you have found this blog and are not a practitioner of yoga, I really encourage looking into that possibility especially for those suffering, be it from OCD, ADD, .PTSD... what have you. While not always a cure-all, with time, patience and dedication, a steady yoga practice will deepend your sense of body awareness, create space in your body and mind through mindful breathing and allow one to witness the mind as the machine that it is, rather than the self-defining keeper of truth-telling conversation that it is not.