I need this. And by that I mean - time taken for myself. Time taken doing something soothing and familiar like writing here. Something to bring me back to a place and state of mind I know. Life has been so busy lately that writing hasn't been on my mind. Or, if it has been, I just haven't had the energy and will to do it.
This past week I FINALLY began a new part-time job that I have been waiting to start for months now. For reasons related to OCD, I had to wait a long time from the time I was hired and trained to actually begin working. (Apparently my excessive washing over the last year and a half has wreaked havoc on my fingerprints, making them pretty much impossible read digitally. Digital fingerprinting was required for my job, and since mine were dreadfully unclear it took FOREVER to jump through all the necessary hoops for approval. I had been interviewed, hired, trained, and had all the necessary paperwork in line, but for months my fingerprints held me back. Guess that's one more thing OCD has taken from me, one more reason I should recognize it as something I want to fight and overcome, not cling to.)
I am glad to be working but am a little overwhelmed at the moment. I work seven days a week, different hours each day. I find the no real "weekends" aspect a bit daunting, even if I am only working for a fraction of most days, no weekends means I don't ever just have a day where I can catch up with life, particularly OCD. No day where I can just relent and let OCD have the reins. This is probably a good thing, but I find it terribly stressful - always needing to be "on." Always needing to be ready to fight OCD or ready to make extra time for all the OCD demands of my life. It certainly becomes more apparent where OCD begins to eat away at my time when I have less of it available to sacrifice. Unfortunately (or fortunately), I have to keep going. I may still have a lot of compulsions I base my life around, but I have the choice to do them or not do them. And if I am not willing to give some of my compulsions just yet, well, then I have to accept the price of less time for myself. I can't wait until I'm "better" to jump back in to a more normal life. If I want any sort of transition, this is it.
I think part of the reason I am struggling some is that I didn't realize how much time my job would take. It's more than just work time (25-30 hours/week). There's transportation time. There's often a lot of prep time not included in those hours, too. There's downtime here and there between various hours of work. It adds up.
In the end, it all leaves me a bit scared that my idealistic hope that I might someday have a job that I really ENJOY isn't possible. I fear that I will never ever again find something as entertaining and fulfilling as school. So far none of the few jobs I have had have been able to compare. Not even close really. My current job is probably the best one yet - I like being to make my own hours and for the most part, be my own boss. I like the social aspect of my new job as well. I enjoy interacting with people - I just tend to have a lot of anxiety when I am the one in the position of authority. But I have found myself increasingly at ease even when I am in charge, when I am the one leading social interactions. And I am glad to have finally faced that fear and begun to challenge it. The work I am doing now is something I have always wanted to do more of, I just didn't always have the time or confidence in my abilities, both socially and otherwise, to go for it. Now I am - my job is basically one scary social event after another. The result: it's getting easier, that's for sure.
I think another reason this transition has been a bit harder than expected is that my main therapist was off for most of the week. I haven't seen him in almost a week now. This would probably be normal for most people, but I have been seeing him pretty much every other day for a while now. The major change with all my new work, coupled with my therapist's absence, has made the world feel quite upside down. I begin to worry that I have "lost my OCD" in the absence of having someone around to remind me of all that I need to work on. I worry that I am suddenly "better" but not necessarily any happier for it. I fear that I will forget what it was like "before when my OCD was worse." I also begin to wonder if my ability to work again and forgo some compulsions for the sake of that work, reveals the "true me," the fake who really doesn't have OCD or could have just gotten better all along if she had tried harder. Those thoughts all swirled around with the desire for things just to feel "normal," for me just to feel "like myself," has made this week a bumpy ride emotionally. Luckily I only have one more day to wait before seeing my main therapist again, and I had some time to relax today, and will also have time to do so tomorrow, as well. All these things have and will help me return my sense of self. It's a chance to catch up on life and to feel that my whole world hasn't been swallowed up by my new job.
One other thing: the more I work, the harder time I have spending my money. You'd think it would be the other way around. You'd think that I would feel more able to spend now that I am making money. But where before I just saw the spending of my savings as inevitable (after all this was the big "rainy day" I had been saving them for right?), now I analyze each dollar in hours worked, and let's just say that that makes life a bit less enjoyable. What's super depressing is thinking about how much I make compared to how much I pay for therapy. My rate is extremely reasonable for what it could be, and my insurance is pretty good considering the often limited coverage of mental health costs, and yet, my hourly wages pale in comparison to the price of therapy, which is just kind of depressing to think about. Perhaps as I get used to working a lot again, I will become less aware of how much I have made each day, how much effort I have put in for each dollar earned. And perhaps spending it on therapy will again become less daunting. After all, difficult things seem to become easier the more we do them, right? The longer I work and spend the money I have earned on things like therapy and rent, the easier it will be to part with, I suppose. I'm just all over the place emotionally right now and it's one more thing that makes me wonder, "Will any job ever seem worth this? Will I ever enjoy my job enough that I am less aware of just how much I have to work to get by?"
Anyways, at the end of the day it's things like taking the time to write here that bring me back - that remind me of who I am and why I'm doing what I'm doing. My current job is not a career path; it's simply a stepping stone between college and potentially more school and/or the career path I desire. It's a way to transition from full-time OCD to part-time regular work. And it's something I have always wanted to do. It allows me to gain confidence in areas where I previously doubted myself - it's one more way to confront a fear. I think sometimes I forget this bigger picture and begin to feel trapped, lost, or simply indifferent about life. I feel like I AM my job when it seems to swallow up my life and free time. At these times, I need a place like this to come to. A place where I can draw myself out of the moment to moment challenges and remember that I am still myself. I am not trapped. I am still me and I am still in the driver's seat. I am NOT my job. I still have my "old" interests and aspirations. What I'm doing now isn't necessarily turning away from those goals and interests, rather it's a path that brings me closer to them - even if it sometimes does feel like I'm being pulled in the wrong direction.