He doesn’t ever stop talking. An incessant stream of words come out of his mouth with hardly a breath in between. He talks to me, he calls random people (like my grandmother’s 90 year old friends), he says hello how are you have a good night to people on the street–even it it’s the middle of the day. It’s this word vomit that makes me realize he has zero control over this, it’s a compulsion; one of the many manifestations of his OCD.
We walked into the elevator in the apartment building this evening and before we got to the second floor to go to our apartment, the elevator stopped at 1. “Oh no,” he whispered, because he knew he wasn’t going to be able to stop himself from touching and talking to whoever set foot in there. And of course, he wasn’t able to stop himself, no matter how tightly I held his hand and how many reminders of “personal space, Tak, personal space” I gave him. “Hello,” he said. “How are you sir. How is it going? Have a good night. Take care. See you soon. Thank you, sir. Goodnight. See you later.” It’s nonstop. Just… just nonstop. Luckily this trio of people were kind; not everyone is. And I don’t blame those people. Most people don’t want a random stranger embracing them, or even giving them a high five, or saying a million words to them as they walk by. But this is what gets us in trouble. When people don’t engage with Takkin, he feels completely slighted and then lashes out. He’s scared to go in public because he knows he can’t control his compulsive behavior and is worried about how he’ll react. That’s the strange and interesting thing–he’s fairly aware of his behavior, but this awareness does not yield self-control at all.
We had a pretty good day overall: we got coffee in the morning, did some reading and writing, his “tutor” came, we made lunch and did some cleaning, I was able to coax him to go to my grandmother’s for dinner, and then we finished the night by playing some basketball on a nearby court and driving around a little. At my grandmother’s house he was getting louder and louder, talking faster and faster, fidgeting more than usual. I asked him if he wanted an Ativan to calm his nerves; he did. “Am I getting antsy?” he asked. I nodded. He gladly took the pill. This, combined with the three other medications he takes every day, seem to at least keep some of the demons at bay.
Together, we wrote an essay which he emailed to numerous members of my family, including my mom: Takkin should respect his mother for all the things she does for him. Glad his sister is in town. We are having a party together. Tak and sissy are having a play day to drive to UVA and bowling in Leesburg. We have a few appointments together to go to which I will attend to with sister. Also have fun walks with sister and brother Takkin.
I wonder how his brain works. I wonder what goes through it, how he makes the decisions he does, if he’s even making decisions as opposed to just following his urges. I think it’s almost always the latter. He does the strangest things sometimes: no matter how many times I tell him, he sits at a diagonal across from his breakfast plate and spills food everywhere; he pours water in Diet Coke and drinks that; he’ll forget to put on one sock and his shirts are often backwards; he waits in front of the elevator and as it’s closing, he’ll push the doors together (which makes me cringe because I am certain one of these days his fingers will get caught); he mixes up languages and will throw in French, Spanish, and Farsi words when speaking to complete strangers who understand nothing he’s saying; he wakes up at 4 AM to eat something, then goes back to bed for a few more hours; he talks so loudly on the phone that neighbors knock on the door and ask him to quiet down. There are so many things, and each thing is a reminder to me that something in his brain is slightly askew. It’s like the wires weren’t connected correctly, and so everything is just…off.
And then, out of nowhere, he’ll do something completely normal. Tonight he wanted to show me something but wouldn’t tell me what it was. We got in the car and he navigated us to an adjacent town. He directed me perfectly, telling me when to turn right and left and which streets to take. Eventually we ended up in a neighborhood and he pointed to the road and said, “Look!” And there was an entire street and driveway filled with dozens of the same make and model car: an old Saab convertible. It was the funniest, most random thing. “Isn’t that hilarious?” he asked.
And it actually really was.