Sunday, July 25, 2010

Having a Moment

Today I'm having one of those moments where I feel incredibly presumptuous - presumptuous to believe that I have had a rough time with OCD and even more presumptuous to believe that I ever had an eating disorder. So this is off topic, since this is supposed to be a blog about OCD, but I was reading about EDs today and began to doubt whether I really had a diagnosable case of an eating disorder when I was younger. I mean, I definitely had disordered eating, but I got over it fairly quickly, and though I always believed that I had anorexia nervosa, I'm not sure if I was ever technically diagnosed.

I've been told that people who are anorexic usually have to fight for years to overcome their problem and many never fully recover. I recovered fairly quickly, meaning that I gained the weight back, even if my eating habits didn't really get back to normal for a few years. But I didn't receive extensive treatment. It didn't take endless cajoling to get me to cooperate once I gave up on trying to lose more weight. I was exhausted and couldn't do it anymore. So for a period of time I was very, very restrictive in what I ate and pushed myself to exhaustion with exercise, but I recovered fairly quickly and don't feel like I am likely to fall back into that trap anytime soon.

So did I really have an eating disorder? Or am I like one of those people who complains about their "OCD" when really they don't have anything of the sort and don't really even know what OCD is? Whenever I have seen a new therapist or psychiatrist, they always ask if I have any history of problems or taken any medications. Eventually the eating disorder period of my life comes up because I was taken in for treatment and put on medication at that time. But sometimes I begin to wonder if, when I explain this part of my history, they think, "Oh well, it doesn't really sound like she actually had an eating disorder. She doesn't know what she's talking about. She recovered way too quickly for it to be actually classified as a disorder." I begin to wonder if they are just humoring me by not telling me what they really think. If they are, in actuality, doubting my assumption that I had this problem as I report it, but to be kind, don't challenge me.

So I wonder if they doubt the history that I give them. And then I begin to doubt my own memories of the severity of that time in my life. Was it really that bad? Or am I just remembering it that way? It is sometimes hard to remember how I felt at that time but then little details of my condition pop into my memory that remind me of how terrible it was. My doctors and family were certainly very concerned, but was that concern really a reflection of how bad I was or simply how much they worried? Did I really have an eating disorder? Did I really fit the criteria? Or was it just another manifestation of my OCD disguised as anorexia?

In writing all this it strikes me that these questions, and the need to know the answer to them, is probably an OCD trap in and of itself. I can't know the answers to these things with 100% certainty. Meanwhile, my fear of falsely proclaiming that I have had a disorder and that I have suffered as a consequence falls in line with my general fear of being an overly-dramatic whiner - someone who moans about all the hard things they have been through when really, they know nothing of such suffering. I guess I can't know that I am not such a person and must accept that uncertainty. Maybe it is indeed extremely audacious of me to say that I had an eating disorder. Maybe it is a shameful exaggeration considering the suffering that those who DO have such a disorder face. Knowing how lethal they can be and all the damage they cause to people's lives, maybe I am presumptuous indeed for suggesting that I have had an eating disorder.

All in all today, I feel like I am moving around in a fog. I doubt everything. Nothing feels certain. I wash my hands, and then immediately wonder if I really did. I do my laundry and hang it up or put it away and then wonder if I really washed it. I guess I just have to go with it. Even if I do feel like nothing feels certain I have to do my best to move on and just hope that I did it right. I feel like I should know whether I have done these things and done them right. But the reality probably is that many people do such things without thinking about them. But do they worry about it? Probably not. My attempts to do things over and over again until I am sure I have done them or done them right is probably what led me to feeling like this in the first place today. I'm trying to embrace the fogginess in my head, but it's not always that easy! I feel like I don't know what I'm doing, where I'm going, or who I really am...

2 comments:

  1. Keep fighting! Don't give in to the desire to go wash your clothes again. I know EXACTLY what that feels like! But give the uncertainty time to settle....it's hard as hell, but it will help over time!
    As for the part where you wrote "these questions, and the need to know the answer to them, is probably an OCD trap in and of itself." - I think you hit the nail right on the head!
    And even if you didn't have an eating disorder, it may have been just another manifestation of the OCD. Which is no less serious....just different.
    It feels weird to reassure you by saying yes, you do legitimately have OCD. Because who wants to hear that they have a mental illness? lol! But if it eases your worries of coming off as a whiner, you're accepted here and I'm glad you keep writing! :)

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  2. I too have obsessed about whether or not I have OCD or if I suffer "enough" from it. Even my therapist, who is not a big reassurer, told me, "Yes, you DO have OCD." I put impossible standards on myself--if I saw my own experience happening to someone else, I would feel compassion for that person's pain. I've gotten better at having compassion for myself--it helps that my therapist and my husband and friends have compassion for me, and sometimes it sinks in.

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