|My apartment building in Bowling Green.|
Have you ever lied because of your obsessive-compulsive disorder?
Jean at her Writer, Heal Thyself blog recently wrote a post about lying in response to her compulsive overeating disorder.
And I started thinking about the effects mental illnesses can have, especially relating to the fear of others finding out about our problems and judging us harshly because of them.
I have lied out of fear stemming from my OCD, but there’s one particular incident I remember well. It happened in 1989 or around that time, when I was a graduate student living in Bowling Green, Ohio.
I lived in a small one-bedroom apartment and kept it sparklingly clean, especially the bathroom.
I cleaned the bathroom every Friday. I would start at about 7 a.m. and finish about four hours later. What took me so long?
I wiped down all the surfaces—the floor, the sink, the toilet and the tub—with a water and disinfectant solution. And I didn’t wipe once. I wiped over and over, making sure I covered every inch with the solution.
After I finished that, I doused the whole room with disinfectant spray in order to ensure every bit of the surfaces were reached and cleaned.
The bathroom ended up being quite wet, and I wouldn’t use the toilet until it had completely dried.
But the day I lied to one of my best friends was not a Friday, and I had not just finished cleaning the bathroom.
B came over so we could go do some shopping together.
I had known B since I moved to Bowling Green in 1985, but we became really good friends during my last two years in town.
I was at her house almost every day, and she fed me and listened to me and studied with me. B offered her hospitality to anyone who needed it.
On this day that we were to go shopping, B arrived and asked if she could use my bathroom before we left.
Now I was very obsessive about protecting the cleanliness of my bathroom. I put a lot of time and effort into getting it clean to my OCD specifications. When I used the bathroom, I was careful to now mess anything. When I was finished, I would clean the toilet seat with disinfectant spray and toilet paper, to make sure any germs were killed.
I didn’t like other people using my bathroom, and if they did, I cleaned the toilet after they left.
I was inwardly panicking in response to B’s request. I wouldn’t be able to clean the toilet until I got back from shopping. I knew that I would think about it the entire time we were out.
“Oh, B, I just cleaned the bathroom, so it’s too wet to use,” I said.
“Couldn’t I take a piece of toilet paper and wipe it dry and use it?” she asked.
I panicked some more. I didn’t want her to go into my bathroom to use it. I also didn’t want her to go into the bathroom and see that it wasn’t wet, that I had lied.
So I told her no again. She looked hurt and confused.
Then we left my apartment and went to a big box store, where she used the bathroom. I was sorry she had to use a public bathroom, but at the time, I wasn’t sorry that she hadn’t used mine.
I refused to let a friend use my bathroom. I lied to her about it.B would never have told people they couldn’t use her bathroom unless it was broken. I had been inhospitable to B, and that’s the last thing she would have been.
What about you? Have you ever lied because you were afraid?