The (Neat and Orderly) Ramblings of an Obsessive Compulsive

You Me At Six

It all started when I was eleven. I remember that fateful day as if it were yesterday. I was in my classroom at school when a friend approached me and told me about a film she had seen the previous night. It was The Exorcist (F*ck knows why she was watching a film like that at the age of eleven! Kids these days). Now, I’m not religious and neither is my family, but I think any eleven year old kid would find the idea of being possessed by a demon extremely terrifying. The difference is that a kid with an anxiety disorder might not cope very well with this horror. And I didn’t. Without having seen this film (and I still refuse to ever watch it to this day) it played on my mind so much that, having been informed that the number six is ‘the devil’s number’, I attempted to avoid it at all costs in the hope that this might prevent me from being possessed. This is obviously near impossible. Maths lessons were inevitably a living hell. If the answer to a sum was six then I would leave the question blank rather than actually write the devilish little number (which wouldn’t have seemed odd really, considering I have always been rubbish at Maths). Other things were slightly trickier. I mean, in the actual questions what if Anwar had six apples and wanted to know how many he would have left if he gave two to Graham? I couldn’t physically change a question on a question paper. And don’t get me started on digital clocks. I was verging on a breakdown when the clock said ‘6:12’ or ‘12:06’, or – God forbid – ‘18:06’ (because eighteen is triple six plus an extra six… that’s just asking for trouble). I once woke up one morning and glanced at the clock and the time happened to be ‘6:12’ – “It’s a sign!” The result of these encounters would be a mild panic attack followed by frantic mental chanting that I didn’t want to be possessed by the devil in the hope that this would act as a kind of force field to keep the bastard at bay (kind of like the protective enchantments around Hogwarts but a really uncool and unnecessary version).

Eventually, with some help, I came to realise that probably nobody else feels the need to participate in such bizarre ritualised avoidance of the number six to prevent being possessed by the devil, and they’re all fine. After deliberately exposing myself to the number more and more (without chanting to counteract its evil) I saw for myself that nothing would happen if I didn’t avoid it. Slowly, my anxiety surrounding the number decreased, although after a few years of fearing it I still get a little pang whenever I get into bed and the time happens to be ‘12:06’ (which has happened many times). I sleep with one eye open just in case…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *