Saturday, June 18, 2011

Can I Just Stop?

Sometimes, when I start thinking about how normal my life was just three short years ago, I wish so desperately to go back to that time. I wonder if it will ever feel like that again, if it's even possible. My mind wanders to the many people living that way right this very moment, and I wonder, why can't that be me? And then I think...yes, why can't that be me? And I wonder, between my handwashing ritual and the ritual where I need to bleach a spot on the floor over which I opened a piece of mail which seemed especially contaminated, if I could just do it. Is it that simple?

About 8 years ago, I was a smoker. A smoker who had long before decided that she would never smoke as a parent (because mine smoked around me and I was always sick and hated the smell). A smoker who suddenly found herself pregnant after being told it was unlikely to happen. So, after much deliberation on how I would quit, I realized that I was making it much more complicated than it needed to be. And I quit. I literally stopped mid-cigarette and just quit. Done. Was it easy? Oh, for the love of all that is holy, no. By the third day, I seriously thought there was no way in hell I could ever quit for life. But I never touched another cigarette again, not even once.

I wonder sometimes if it is like that, giving up the ocd. Painful, scary, empty in all of the places which used to be filled by old habits...but eventually it becomes normal again. Would it be possible to just do that? Has anyone ever done that?

Of course, logic tells me it has to be possible. Prior to my development of this mind-warping fear of contamination, I did live without all of these restraints on my life. I lived free, outside of this mental cage. I was happy. I did not wash my hands to the point of pain or even bleeding. I did not use so much chemical cleaning solutions that my nails were literally eaten right off. I did not have to wash shoes before entering the house, only to remove them anyhow. I did not check everyone I came into contact with for signs of contamination. I did not have a fear of opening packages mailed for fear of what kind of contamination might be on or inside of them. There were no "safe" places and "risky" places. And the worst part of going out of the house was poor weather, not the 3+ hour ritual to get back in the house.

I've never tried this. I've attempted it in bits and pieces, but never with full level commitment to doing it. Typically, it just takes one small sign of potential contamination to send me spiraling instantly into a cleaning frenzy which lasts hours and leaves my hands painfully raw and often bleeding. I just keep trying to imagine my mother, and all of the pointless stupid shit she did - all in vain - to appease her own ocd. None of us did those things, and strangely, we were cleaner and healthier than she was. It's amazing, that. The ocd rituals tend to bring more risk than just living.

I fucking hate this disorder. It takes everything. And while it is possible to get one's life back, I deeply resent the fact that I have to struggle painfully with shit that is completely normal for everyone else.

Thursday, June 16, 2011


The jist of my former lost post was this:

The goal is not the absence of fear, but the acceptance that things can happen and that life goes on anyway.

Living my life in fear of what might happen is not living my life. These things may never come to fruition. Or they might. But either way, giving in to ocd means trading the possibility of something undesirable happening for guaranteed misery.

Acceptance. Not the absence of risk, but the healthy acceptance of healthy levels of risk. Yes, a few shitty things happened to me a couple of years ago. Some of them could not be prevented with any level of effort on my part. The things that could have been prevented required no extraordinary risk avoidance, I just failed to do the bare minimum. I put myself in a situation that was very likely to end up badly (not by ocd standards, but by actual standards). And considering the level of risk, what happened was pretty mild. The fallout was not, but that was all ocd.

Yes, my intellect works just fine. But the other part of my brain, the one which operates on more primal urges like fear, is having a much more difficult time catching on.

Acceptance. That is my mantra. Reasonable risk. Acceptance. Not absence of fear. Just acceptance.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Would You Like Scabs With That?

Oh, ocd, you tricky bastard.

It's become clear to me time and again that ocd does not want me to enjoy my life. It's like having a bully 24/7. Mostly, I am regaining control, but there are times when all hell breaks loose. One of those times was Monday, when some clothing items I ordered from a favorite store arrived in the mail. I opened the package, thoroughly (to the point of ridiculous) inspected each item, and placed them in the "safe" pile. And then it happened.

As I was unfolding a pair of pants, something was inside of the last fold which looked exactly like a chunk of scab picked off of a wound. I froze, broke into an instead sweat, and felt paralyzed with fear. Of course, everything in the bag was then considered contaminated, and every item was returned. I have no idea what that actually was, but it was disgusting. My ocd tells me there aren't many things which look exactly like a scab, but in reality I'm sure there was a perfectly logical explanation. But ocd wouldn't have it. I will not be able to order again from that store for a very long time.

(Edit: this entry was about three times as long, but when I published it, Blogger ate the rest of my f#%king post. I'm not pleased. I'm also not re-writing it, because I spend enough of my life redoing shit because of the goddamn ocd. I'm not doing it here, too.)