I have to say that the annual conference presented by the International OCD Foundation was an amazing experience, and in ways that I didn't necessarily anticipate. It's definitely a bit surreal to go from seeing OCD as this secret and hidden part of life to having it be the focus of an entire conference. I love learning about OCD and this event was definitely the Mecca of OCD information. There were of course the the experts - the therapists, the doctors, the researchers - but there were also a whole community of OCD sufferers past and present who had their own wealth of knowledge to share. Being able to openly affirm my fascination with and interest in OCD simply by being present there, and to be with other people equally interested in the disorder and its treatment, was exhilarating for me in and of itself. I'm sure I'll write more about the experience later...but tonight...
I have renewed motivation to fight back and get better, and I hope that I keep this motivation, but sometimes I fear that life does and will continue to feel empty without rituals around which to schedule anything and everything else. I am so used to framing my productivity around OCD's demands that, and as such demands diminish when I do the homework I am supposed to do, I feel lost. I miss the security of my rituals and the fact that they always gave me something to think about and do. My mind was always going, trying to figure out how on earth I was going to accomplish the tasks of everyday life within the confines of OCD.
I essentially miss my OCD cage. It provided a framework around which I schedule my life. Don't get me wrong, much of that framework still exists, but as it gradually breaks down, as the OCD rules become more like fluid suggestions rather than hard and fast dictates, I become confused. How do I know I have done things right? How do I know if I am clean enough? How do determine if I have tried hard enough? How do I know any of these things if I am not pushing myself to the limit of OCD's demands? Exhaustion or frustration are the indicators of completion for me. Without those, how do I figure out whether something is complete? How do I know when to stop? How do I not feel like I am floating untethered through space? It's just hard to figure out how to do things when they suddenly seem to require so much less effort and time.
I miss the security of rules, the completeness, the defined ways in which things must be done. Again, I miss the OCD cage. The world outside and the wide open space seem overwhelming at times, and I want to crawl back in to feel the comfort of my previous boundaries, the bars that rein me in. I know it's a trap...it's a cage that gets smaller and smaller and smaller the more time I spend in it, until I can hardly move. But sometimes I just want to go back in and bask in the false protection it provides.