Conditional Corner: The end of an OCD era

Conditional Corner is a series that runs Fridays on TSParentsOnline. All stories, including this one by Vrinda Pendred, were originally published at Conditional Publications.

When I was 11, my father went on holiday to Mexico City and brought back too many photographs, a Mayan calendar coin inside of a glass pyramidal paperweight, and a story about the Mayan calendar coming to an end on the winter solstice, 2012.

No one knew I had OCD at that time.  If they had, perhaps this story would not have been passed on to me so early.  What was a joke to the general public over this year was, in fact, an obsession that had plagued me for 18 years.

At 11, 2012 felt like a lifetime away.  By 2010, the anxiety started to crush me.  I had a small child to think about.  Would I never get to see him grow up?  Would he never have a future?  I wasn’t ready to die.  I have brothers overseas whom I’ve never met – I was desperate to meet them before 2012 because a mad part of me was convinced I would never see them otherwise.  Perhaps if the world did not end, something would happen to prevent me from ever crossing the Atlantic.  Maybe I would never see my old friends back in my birthplace of America again.

I listened to podcasts about the prediction.  I watched documentaries.  I read books.  I was searching for some clever person who could contradict the prophesy in a more educated way, rather than simply dismissing it as nonsense.  These were my compulsions, my way of balancing the anxiety that consumed me as time passed, beyond my control.

Then suddenly it was the 20th of December.  Just one day to go.  I couldn’t sleep.  I KNEW it was stupid, yet I just couldn’t shake off the panic.

I can’t actually put into words what I felt about 2012.  It was terrifying to know that, if something DID happen, I could do nothing to stop it.  Time would march on without me.

On 21st December, at the zenith of the winter solstice, I was busy working and didn’t even notice the fateful hour had passed.  When I did at last check the time, I can’t say how relieved I was to see that we had all made it.  I had known all along that was what would happen.  But OCD meant I couldn’t fully believe that.

And thinking about it, I want to state for the record that 21st December WAS the end of the world as I knew it.  After almost 20 years, I could finally breathe easy.  I now truly believe that the world will carry on.  Life will continue.  All apocalyptic predictions are nonsense.  I can really say that, now, with conviction.  I couldn’t do that two weeks ago.

And it’s a beautiful feeling, realizing that you just CAN’T predict the future. Que sera sera – whatever will be, will be.  There’s freedom in this new ignorance.

We made it.  Here’s to the future, whatever it may bring.

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