Home » Mental Health » Odd Numbers Are Evil

Odd Numbers Are Evil

Yes, you read that right.  Odd numbers are evil!  Do you need proof?  Have you ever heard of this…

Why was 8 scared of 7?

Because 7  8  9!

Yes, he ate 9!  Why?  Because odd numbers are evil!

As far back as I can remember (days and days ago), I have been afraid of odd numbers.  I had to do everything in even numbers. Usually, that number was 4.  Such activities as using a light switch, opening or closing jars or drawers, picking things up or setting them down had to be done four times.  Putting a lid on came with extra duties.  I had to take a nice deep breath as I closed the lid.  If I didn’t do it just right, I had to keep doing it until it felt right, BUT it still had to be four times.  So, if I messed up the first time, I had to start over and try for four perfect times.  I would get so mad and frustrated because it would take forever to get things done.

One morning, I started my lights on/off cycle and my mom noticed.  She hollered at me to stop playing with the lights and get to school.  Well, I wasn’t done with all four cycles but I stopped because I was embarrassed.  I had to stop at three.  It took all of my will power to go out the door and head to school.  I was in a daze all day.  All I could think of was that something horrible was going to happen and it would all be my fault!  I didn’t get to finish the ritual and that was bad luck.

Years and years later, I have taught myself to learn to live with the anxiety that comes with not being able to do things in sets of four.  I can now easily turn the light off once!  I don’t have to open and close drawers four times.  I can set something down once, as long as it’s in a place that feels safe for it.  Don’t ask what I mean about safe, because it’s just a feeling I get.  I don’t even know how it works.  But, it has to feel right.  I still have a lot of trouble with closing certain types of lids, such as coffee can lids.  I have to do it at least twice, and I have to breathe in just right as I do it.  There are some nights that I almost pass out trying to get those two perfect breaths in a row.

We won’t even go into my obsession with canned foods being upside down.  No, we won’t.

I had no idea what was going on with me until my son was diagnosed with OCD about six years ago.  After the discussion with the doctor, it all made sense.  What makes me happy is I was treating myself without even knowing what I was doing!  It took years, but I slowly made progress on the panic I felt when I stopped myself from performing everything four times.  I whittled it down from four to two (never three, no never), and then one.  Now, except for lids and upside down things, especially cans, it’s not so bad.  I still cringe at times and I have to use some control, but I doubt anyone would ever know about the OCD.

Unless you are here when I fix my coffee and I have to put that Blankety-Blanken lid on!  Or, I am in the store and there are UPSIDE DOWN cans on the shelves!  If my daughter is with me and notices the cans, she grabs my arm and gently guides me away while calmly telling me to just walk away.

And, even if I can do things only once now, I still think odd numbers are evil!


12 thoughts on “Odd Numbers Are Evil

  1. I need help! I am causing so many concerns for other people but they can’t understand. I don’t like anything in an “odd” state – my actions mostly preformed twice, but sometimes 4 times; like washing the dishes, turning things on/off, walking & climbing stairs, volume & speed settings on stuff, Getting worse and I am starting to wonder how bad its going to get.

    • I understand that all too well! I reached out to a local college and am getting therapy free due to my income. It feels so good to just pour out my heart to someone! You might find something similar in your area. I also do things in fours. I have been challenging the bad thoughts and only doing things twice and I am having some success!

  2. Aspie here: I had to keep my feet even–if I started up stairs with my right foot, and ended on my right, I had to go down beginning with my left. Same thing with cement sidewalks, or B&W checkered floors, etc. This didn’t cause a problem for me–I just kept track of it.

    A book that made me so happy–that made me know I was not alone, and might even be special–was “The Revolving Boy”, by Gertrude Friedberg, in which the author imagines a higher purpose exists for such balancing compulsions.

    I still count stairs as I use them, or I cannot use them at all. What I find interesting about this is that, despite my counting, I never have any idea how many stairs there ARE : )

  3. I still have a habit of counting things…..students in the classroom, tiles on the floor, chores to be completed, etc. Also, a song will play in my head as background music. I have sort of accepted it all since it does no harm and is only upon occasion. Besides, I like the music!

  4. It is so interesting that you instinctively knew how to “treat” yourself with your own version of ERP therapy. They same thing happened with my son. When his OCD was really bad, he would say to me, “Make me do this,” or “Make me go here,” as a way of going against his OCD, not even realizing he was actually practicing ERP therapy.

    • The first time I ever heard of that therapy was about a year ago, when it was suggested for my son. Heck, I had never heard of OCD until that show Monk!

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