David Sedaris is a well-known American author and humorist. In his essay “Plague of Tics”, he chronicles his experience living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Sedaris’ frank and often funny account provides insight into the day-to-day challenges of living with OCD.
Sedaris begins by describing some of his earliest compulsions, which included touching objects a certain number of times or in a certain order. As he got older, his tics became more complex and time-consuming. For example, he would have to touch each step on the staircase a certain number of times before he could move on to the next one.
Living with OCD can be extremely difficult, as Sedaris’ essay makes clear. The constant need to perform rituals can take up a lot of time and energy. It can also be very isolating, as people with OCD often avoid social situations for fear of embarrassing themselves.
Despite the challenges, Sedaris has found ways to cope with his OCD. He takes medication to help control his symptoms and has learned to accept that he may never be entirely rid of his tics. He also tries to find humor in his situation, which helps him to better deal with the stress and anxiety that come with living with OCD.
David Sedaris’ “Plague of Tics” is a moving and humorous account of what it’s like to live with OCD. His frankness about the condition provides valuable insight into the day-to-day challenges faced by those with this disorder. His story is a reminder that, despite the difficulties, it is possible to find ways to cope with OCD and to lead a fulfilling life.
In David Sedaris’s “Plague of Tics,” readers learn about Sedaris’s OCD behaviors and how they affect not just him, but also his family and friends. I have some empathy for Sedaris since I learned through the “Plague of Tics” that we had a connection regarding our opinions and past experiences. His family seems to be used to his strange behaviors, although instead of being concerned, they tease him and believe the tics are intentional.
David’s father would tell him to “act normal”, but David never knew what that meant. David was never quite sure what was “normal”. It wasn’t until he started school and was surrounded by other children his age that David realized how different he was. David became more aware of his tics and obsessiveness when he noticed the other kids around him didn’t share the same behaviors.
This lead David to believe something was wrong with him and felt immense shame because of it. In the essay, Plague of Tics, David Sedaris recalls his younger years when he suffered from OCD. He talks about the differences between himself and other children, and how that made him feel.
Each year, his instructors make a point of meeting with Sedaris’ mother to discuss him. Every time, Mrs. Sedaris serves the teachers cocktails (scotch one year, sherry the next), and tells tall tales that take the edge off their reports of his transgressions: touching too much, talking out of turn, rocking back and forth in class . . . As Sedaris gets older, his customs grow more bizarre: self-inflicted painon one’s own body or face (rolling one’s eyes violently), shouting little voices.
On one occasion, David was asked to leave class for shouting out the word “meow” during a lecture. When his mother was later called in to discuss the incident, she explained that her son had recently become obsessed with cats and that she would have a talk with him about appropriate behavior in class.
David’s behaviors continued to escalate and worsen as he got older. By high school, he was touching himself constantly, often times making sexually explicit gestures. He would also count things obsessively and loudly announce the number of whatever he was counting at random moments.
College was both good and bad for Sedaris; on one hand, it became harder to come up with believable explanations for his tics, but on the other hand he could no longer perform them in private. In addition, once college started, Sedaris took up smoking cigarettes which made him feel more “socially acceptable” and eased his anxiety about his tics. Some readers might find it hard to understand Sedaris’ actions due to their severity and strangeness, yet I found myself relating to many of his behaviors.
To provide some context, David Sedaris is known for his comical and satirical essays. In “Plague of Tics,” he tells the story of how his tics started and how they’ve evolved over time.
Sedaris opens up the essay talking about how hard it was to keep his tics a secret in high school since he was constantly getting made fun of or getting detention. He tried various methods to get rid of them or at least make them less noticeable but nothing seemed to work. When he got to college, people were a bit more understanding and tolerant but he still felt like an outsider. It wasn’t until he started smoking cigarettes that he finally started to feel more comfortable in social situations.
While some of Sedaris’ tics might seem funny or even entertaining, they are actually quite troubling for him. He constantly feels the need to move his body in strange ways and sometimes even says things that he doesn’t mean. This has led to him getting in trouble at work and school on multiple occasions. The worst part is that he can’t control his tics no matter how hard he tries.
Throughout the essay, Sedaris touches on some interesting topics such as mental health, social anxiety, and self-acceptance. His unique perspective on life and ability to find humor in dark situations is what makes him such a popular writer. “Plague of Tics” is a moving and thought-provoking essay that will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading it.
As someone with a smaller case of OCD, I recognized everything in this essay. Sedaris’ anxiety drove him to a specific self-esteem exchange; as it would anybody who has an uncontrollable ailment. Sedaris was seen as unusual by the general public. Rather than sympathizing with his family, who didn’t seem to believe in his condition at all, I pitied him. His father advised him that if he continued performing the rituals, he’d be punished; while his mother ridiculed him and predicted he’d get over it right away.”
I found David’s relationship with his family to be the saddest part of this essay. It wasn’t until David was an adult and had moved away from home that he was finally able to get help for his OCD. He saw a therapist and was put on medication, which helped him immensely. I was glad to hear that David’s story had a happy ending, and that he was finally able to live a relatively normal life.
I would recommend this essay to anyone who wants to understand OCD better, or to anyone who has the condition themselves. David Sedaris is a great writer and I enjoyed reading his work.