If This Gets Me Laid I Will Be Very Surprised

New columnist Gregory Sherl battles OCD and depression in the second installment of ‘Fixing Me.’

This is a few days ago: I think about killing myself probably five times.

On the corner of Taft and Palm, a canal separated from the street by a guardrail is no longer separated from the street by a guardrail. I guess a car went through it.

Maybe two cars went through it.

I imagine my car going through where I guess the other car or maybe two cars went through.

For minutes I do not debate the hygiene of the canal. I do not wonder who it touched today, or why.

For minutes I wonder how many swallows it would take for me to forget that I am swallowing.

For minutes I am so close to saying goodbye.

Sometimes I think about the people who might miss me, but then I don’t care.


My days are on constant repeat. I keep thinking the line I have not slept like giants in so long over and over while I lie in bed and try not to move my hands from my hips.

If my hips left my body, would hers get lonely when we are both sweaty?


At my favorite coffeeshop there is no soap in the men’s restroom. I tell the barista and he asks the other barista, but they can’t find more soap. He has me use the faucet behind the counter. I am frantic, frightened by this act of newness for my hands. This soap is very pink. I think about being inside someone who understands why I am inside her. I lather quietly while the barista mops, and the other barista does something that I can’t see.

Still, I worry about the very pink soap.

I worry the very pink soap is only half as strong because it is not in the bathroom pump. Like the bathroom pump has powers, works out at the gym. Shit, the bathroom pump takes vitamins.

Shit, the bathroom pump comes to work with its game face on.

I feel dirty till morning.


I have not been medicated since February.

On Lamictal, a mood stabilizer for those affected with bipolar disorder, I was constantly forgetting conversations.

But maybe that was a good thing.

Maybe on Lamictal I would forget the conversations I have with the towel hanging over my shower rod. I am sorry your life is so short, I tell the forest-green terrycloth, but you’re only good to me once.


Thomas tells me that some Bull Terriers are so OCD, they literally can’t stop chasing their tails.

I wonder briefly if the ocean is OCD, and that is why it is constantly falling back into itself.

He says it is because the Bull Terriers are so purebred. I imagine the Aryan race flossing its gums six times a day.


I am trying to put myself together mathematically.

Writing poems > washing hands.

Living well > writing poems about not wanting to wash hands.

I don’t know how to think about relationships ≥ tomorrow.


Instead of worrying about the enamel on my teeth I walk around my block and miss smoking very much.

It is new sheet day, which is my favorite day of the week.

On Thanksgiving the turkey was dry, but I used a fork that many people touched.

I didn’t ask my mother how she scooped the ice from the ice bucket.

My face was buried in someone else’s couch while I napped.


Merritt reads a bunch of poems I wrote, tells me, You’re so sensitive, I don’t know how you’re still alive.

I will put that on the back of my book of poems. It will be next to a cloud facing another cloud.

I don’t tell her, If this column ever gets me laid, I will be very, very surprised.


So much stress in washing sheets. How do you put a pillowcase on a pillow without touching the pillowcase and the pillow with the same hand?

I waste so many paper towels opening and closing the dryer.

I am constantly worrying about where my dryer has been.

If my dryer were in a canal, it would be the opposite of a dryer.

If my dryer were in a canal, it would not work.

I think the same for me.


Read the first installment of “Fixing Me” here.

—Photo Aaron Domini

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About Gregory Sherl

Gregory Sherl's first full-length poetry collection, Heavy Petting, was released last October. His newest book, The Oregon Trail is the Oregon Trail, is out this month. He blogs/reviews/interviews here.<


  1. 1. Take off Pillow Case.
    2. Wash Hands.
    3. Hold Pillow with Knees, against clean PJ Pants.
    4. Slip pillow case over the end of the pillow, release from knees.
    5. Flip pillow so it falls into case.

    That’s how you change a pillow case without getting it dirty. =)

  2. midwestmatt says:

    Having suffered through a, somewhat, mild case of OCD for more than 2 years, I can empathize with the author and how his brain races from thought to thought. Reading his words brought back stark memories of how my thoughts bounced from the connected subject to the disconnected subjects and back again. I hated it and it drove me to suicide.

    It’s so unnerving and enervating that it can topple the strongest of men.

    I used Paxil to relieve my symptoms and talk therapy with a great therapist. She worked wonders and so did Paxil. After only 2 months on Paxil, my symptoms were a fraction of their former strength and I was on my way to healing.

    Unfortunately, getting off of Paxil is the worst. Don’t miss a dose or brain zaps start within 2-4 hours. It took me three months to finally get off of it.

    When someone has diagnosed OCD, don’t judge but rather help them as the symptoms are hell to live with.

  3. i am going to send you a bull terrier puppy

  4. laura Novak says:

    I applaud your writing and appreciate your honesty. But as with the other writer above who takes the Paxil, don’t give up. Just try to find the right medication. You don’t have to live with thoughts that overwhelm you. Yes, they help make you a great writer and probably a very sensitive and caring friend and son. But no one should ponder a broken bridge that deeply. There’s hope in a bottle. Brain chemistry can be fixed. You just need to find the right one. I wish you well and I’m sure your story will help so many people.

  5. I love you & your magical words

  6. I have OCD. I know I’ve had it since I was a child.

    You remind me of when I was in my late 20s and struggling with my out of control OCD.

    Meds and talk therapy worked for me and continue to. I’m now at the point that OCD just makes me quirky.

    So my message to you is that one day it won’t be as bad as it is today. Best wishes and hugs.

  7. Brilliant.

  8. The time of the year is terrible. It’ll get better in January. Until then, the voice in my head says nothing ever gets better, but I know that it’s a lie and they will get better. Right now my OCD and depression like to fight it out, but always gets better After the holidays.

    Beautiful, poetic article.

  9. Lisa Hickey says:

    The only thing I can’t reconcile is the sadness in your words here with the gorgeousness of the words in your poetry.

    I already told you that one of the favorite lines I’ve ever read is:

    “I was so excited to talk
    to you, I put on the wrong lips.”

    In the conversation after the poem, you told me how you wrote that about a girl at a bar you kept seeing but could never get yourself to talk to.

    Your OCD puts up walls that your poetry breaks down in a heartbeat.
    Looking forward to as many more words from you as you can write.

  10. MetalRabbit13 says:

    Hi, Gregory. First, with permission, (((Hugs))). I learned to ask a long time ago, in a group that I was attending. I learned that if you’ve been abused or through any other trauma and suffer from PTSD, that you may not like to be touched without being asked. Me, I used to startle very easily.
    Second, as I’m writing this in the wee hours of the morning, my local PBS station war rerunning a show, “Change Your Brain, Change Your Body” with Dr. Daniel Amen. I’ve read that book as well as “Change Your Brain, Change Your Life”. In both books, he talks about ANTS — Automatic Negative Thoughts — and ANT killers. This is a 4 step exercise he recommends when you have sad, mad or anxious thoughts.
    You write down the thought or thoughts and then, you ask and answer:
    1. Is it [the thought(s)] true?
    2. Can I absolutely know that it’s true?
    3. How do I feel when I have that thought?
    4. Who would I be or how would I feel if I didn’t have that thought?
    Then, you turn the original thought around and ask which is truer.
    He gives the example of a wonderful friend of his whose husband had died and who wanted another relationship but was telling herself, “No one will want a 75 yr. old woman.”. She turned it around to “SOMEONE will want a 75 yr. old woman.”. According to Dr. Amen, she met someone and has been happily married since 2007. Or as Al Jarreau says in one of my favorite songs, “Random Act of Love”: Flip your script.

  11. MetalRabbit13 says:

    P.S. I meant to mention, I have fights with my thoughts sometimes, although I don’t have OCD. When I start to get a negative thought and obsess a bit, I quickly stamp ‘CANCEL, CANCEL, CANCEL” across it (Like those stamps they have in old movies?) and say it in my mind. Then for good measure I crumple it up and kick it through mental goal posts where it bursts into flames like fireworks and the energy gets recycled. The goal posts are from the title of a supposed real country song, “Kick me, God, Through The Goal Posts of Heaven”. I just get the biggest kick out of that. (No pun, intended. Well…) . :)


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