Never Ending Game of Whack-A-Mole

I often think of my life as one giant game of Whack-A-Mole. There are some aspects that are definitely a stretch, but the metaphor is helpful for explaining how constant and never ending my battle with mental illness (specifically Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)) is. I am going to list the rules of the metaphorical game that I have become trapped within, and how hard it is to get people to understand what is going on. Now, this game of Whack-A-Mole is one I didn’t sign up for or pay to play. It started quietly, so quiet that I didn’t even notice, and by the time I figured it out the game had taken hold and the rules were set.

The game is simple, you have some sort of hammer, and you hit the moles as they pop up, trying to hit them down faster than they pop up. However, my metaphorical game has some twists that turn things from fun to torture. The moles represent my obsessions, the thoughts and worries that take over my entire life. The hammer is my attempt to fight back against my OCD, to accept uncertainty. Below are the rules to my metaphorical game I deal with everyday, the game unseen by everyone else, except for those who are also trapped within their own personalized game of Whack-A-Mole.

Rule #1- the game takes hold of something very important to you. The most important thing in your entire life, and uses that thing as a way to motivate you to continue to play. If you don’t play and too many moles are up, something bad will happen to the very important thing of yours that the game has. In addition, the longer you play, the more important things the game finds of yours and holds hostage.

Rule #2- the moles do not go down with only one hit. You have to continuously pounds the smug little plastics animals, over and over again. Once you stop pounding one to take care of a different one that has popped up, the previous one starts coming back up. In order to conquer the game, you really need ten hammers and arms, but you only have one hammer, and to move a mole down even a fraction of an inch takes both arms and all of your strength. There is a way to get a mole to go down without using the hammer, by rubbing its head. However, while this does get rid of the mole, it will soon be back, and it will come back with offspring, and will be more wild and out of control. So, while you will get a brief moment of rest from the mole, your future fighting will have gotten much, much harder.

Rule #3- no one is allowed to help you battle the moles. The game knows if someone brings a hammer to help of takes the hammer from you to give you a break. If that happens the game will go crazy and get ridiculously hard, putting the very important thing(s) at risk, something you are not willing to let happen.

Rule #4- there is no pause button or exit. However, there is an exit life button under one special red colored mole. The only issue is that in order to get it you have to pound the mole down enough to hit the button. If you start going for that mole a whole bunch of other ones pop up and put your important thing(s) at risk. No matter how badly you want to ignore that and just go for the red exit life button, there is no guarantee that the exit button works, and if you go for it and it fails, you are left to deal with a game that has gone into overdrive and bad things have happened to what the game is holding hostage.

Rule #5- the area for the moles to pop up is continuously changing and growing. The actual games have defined holes where you know the moles will pop up, but this game has some upgrades. The moles can come from anywhere, the holes can move in any direction, creating a continuously expanding 3D game of torture.

Rule #6- for every mole that gets hammered under, two more pop up. Plus, once your attention is elsewhere, the previously conquered mole pops back up again to cause issues.

Rule #7- each mole has a personality and behaves differently. Some continuously peek there head up and cause trouble. Others pop up and refuse to go down. A few like to take naps and don’t cause trouble for a while, then wake up and cause havoc. There is no way to predict what the game does next, all you can do is tighten your grip on the hammer and hope you are able to keep the important thing(s) safe.

Rule #8- no one can see the game of Whack-A-Mole except you. They can see you swinging and pounding at the air, but the hammer and the game are only visible and tangible to you. People often say things like “it’s only in your head”, “it’s not real so why haven’t you stopped?”, or “what on earth is wrong with you?”. While they cannot see it, the game is very real to you. All you can do is hope that those who you tell believe and support you, even though the idea of a game of Whack-A-Mole that only you can see sounds crazy.

Rule #9- despite the game, you have to continue on with all of your responsibilities and commitments of life as if nothing was wrong. While you and those close to you know how much the game is destroying and controlling your life, the rest of the world has no idea. If you told them, most probably wouldn’t believe you, so all you can do is go on with life and pretend like you aren’t battling plastic moles that have things they can blackmail you with.

Rule #10- the game never ends. You will have times where you are doing better, where you feel like you have a little bit of control over your life despite having to deal with the game. However, all it takes is a few moles and your life goes from it’s fragile state of put together to a mess of moles and fighting for all that you care about. There is no way out, the game has you, and it will have you for life. So, you better put some bandaids on your blistered hands and prepare for your eternal battle. Good luck, you’re going to need it.