Wednesday, August 24, 2011

It's Not Defeat but Sometimes It Sure Feels Like It

I haven't written a particularly introspective or well thought-out post in a while.  And I'm afraid this one isn't going to be any different.  Maybe it's the whole almost working full time thing.  Maybe it's the half-way normal life I'm living and trying to balance with my OCD.  I know there are OCD impediments that I just don't even really notice anymore.

For instance, tonight I realized I don't have anything to wear to work tomorrow.  I can't fathom doing laundry now or even determining whether I am "clean enough" to do laundry.  I can't (aka won't) pick a skirt (that I just wore once before condemning) out the dirty laundry - too contaminated.  So what am I going to do?  Take the least offensive route - find a dress that I haven't unpacked in over a year and wear that, even though I'm not sure if it was "clean" before I packed it or if it's "okay" to wear since it's been in a box for so long, even if I did wash it before packing it.  These are dresses that I have avoided wearing for some time now because of this very issue of not knowing how to deal with them...

Everyone has their problems, and this is nothing, I'm sure, compared to "real" problems faced by so many out there, but sometimes I feel that, when living life at this pace, its just assumed that this sort of thing isn't a problem.  It's assumed that finding something "clean" enough to wear to work is not the most mentally challenging part of your day.  It's assumed that you can take care of yourself in this way, at this point in life, and yet, I don't always feel I can.  Life moves faster than I can.  And while I am loathe to give up my compulsions, I feel like the world just moves too fast for them.  The pace of life that I am "supposed" to be living was not designed to accommodate so much compulsive behavior.  But I squeeze it in.  It's way better than it used to be, but I still feel defeated sometimes.

When other people vent about their parking tickets or roommate issues at lunch or during breaks (and trust me, I do that, too), I sometimes wish I could share more of what is really on my mind - like the internal debate I'm having about whether or not to use the bathroom at work or if I'll be sleeping in my bed that evening if I do use a public restroom.  It's not exactly the kind of thing that your average co-worker can probably relate to.  And at this point, I hardly notice anymore.  I'm used to keeping that to myself until I have the rare chance to be completely honest about it - like when talking to my therapist or when I was staying with a friend at the OCD conference, a friend who also has OCD.  And because I don't talk about it, I almost don't even notice how much of my internal debate is dominated by these sort of OCD conversations with myself.  But they're there.  And they wear on me. And sometimes I wish I could just share what's really on my mind instead of pushing it away, hidden as my silent secret.


  1. I hope you don't feel like I'm intruding on what feels like a very personal blog. I'm here because my 17 y/o daughter has OCD (I have a long history of anxiety and depression which is similar in some ways, though not the same). I think the hardest part of having a mental illness is the isolation of being ashamed to talk about what you're going through. My heart really goes out to you.

    My daughter is going through this (as I did when I was young). She has no one -- besides her therapists and me -- in whom she feels she can confide about her obsessions, and I am pretty sure there are some things she keeps buried very deep and is embarrassed to tell anyone.

    I'm glad you have a therapist. I'm no expert (and you didn't ask for advice), but does he/she work with you on cognitive behavioral therapy, including exposure response prevention? Are there any support groups available?

    I hope things get better for you very soon.

  2. Blogging sure helps me through that sometimes, but there's nothing like having someone real and present to talk with. I've been where you are, many times. You're not alone. I know that doesn't help the compulsions go away, but keep blogging - we're reading.

  3. Steph - I welcome intrusions ;). Then again, you weren't intruding it all. I appreciate your thoughtful comments!

    I think it's great that your daughter feels she can confide in you, in addition to her therapist. I sometimes feel bad about not confiding in my own parents to a greater degree (they know about my OCD but not all the gory details of my current symptoms), but I think that, for me anyways, it spares me some anxiety by not telling them. I find it hard to share with them for a number of reasons, one of which is the desire to be understood "correctly." Obviously, not telling them more has its drawbacks, but in the end it's easier for me.

    As far as my treatment goes, yes, my therapist does CBT with ERP :). In fact, he's an OCD treatment specialist, which is one of the reasons I turned to him (I've had unhelpful experiences in the past with other therapists). He knows what he's doing; in fact, I know what I "should" be doing from a CBT standpoint probably 9/10 of the time, but I have a hard time resisting all the same. I think in a way, that makes it all the more frustrating for me - I have a great therapist, I know all too well when I am making therapeutically unhelpful decisions, and yet, I still struggle with implementing what I know. I whole-heartedly believe in CBT and know what it's like to live free from former obsessions/compulsions (I had some when I was a child that really don't bother me at all now), but I still have a hard time getting myself on board. I've come along way from when I fell apart nearly two years ago, but there's still so much progress is sincerely want to make!

    Shana - I agree, blogging definitely helps. I certainly consider the community of OCD bloggers my support group, in a way. I turn here when I have things I want to share that I feel I can't share anywhere else. And I know that there are others out there who can relate! Thanks for your support and your comments! I really appreciate it!

  4. Once or twice, I've shared thoughts of mine with coworkers. I think they weren't sure if I was serious. The time I remember, it was about a certain food not being okay for me to eat. But those were pretty close co-workers and we got along well with each other.

    I'm glad you share here.

    I don't think I could work full time very well right now, for me more because of stress and lack of energy than because of identified compulsions. I'm at half time right now.

  5. Your statement: "Life moves faster than I can" makes me think of my son. It is such a good way of describing what it is like to deal with so many compulsions.
    You are in my thoughts and I hope ou feel better about everything soon........

  6. It's a good exposure that you wrote your post without knowing if it was "well thought out" and I'm glad you did write it, because I resonate with a lot of it(especially the guilt about not writing a "good" post), and the loneliness, and feeling like an alien because of my ocd thoughts. Everyone has something they carry with them, something that makes them feel "less than" or freakish--I believe it's part of being human. I have some close friends who don't have ocd, but as I learned to trust them, I can talk about my struggles, as they talk about theirs. In a work situation, I found most people didn't actually share their deepest burdens, and when they did, I realized I wasn't outside of the human race.

  7. I'm so sorry you can't share this with people, I know just how that feels. I think not only does it suck not to get that human connection from sharing, but also having awkward situations come up from it. For instance, I feel like my mother-in-law (to-be, because I am just engaged right now) judges me so much and thinks I am weird and sometimes I just wish I could explain things to people, but I know I shouldn't.

  8. Karin says:

    Thank you for your post. I know the feeling of having noone to talk to either. yes, my dh knows and understands a lot but it's not like ocd is the priority of his day- like it is mine. Life now is about wondering whether i should do something- the dishes, tidying etc. now or wait because i might do it 'wrong' and have to really wash or even shower. It's not so bad as it was last year or even 4 yrs ago, but my thoughts about the real and potential effects of doing something take up a LOT of energy. i am doing more than i used to also, so that increases the thoughts sometimes because sitting on the couch letting dh do almost everything was safer and cleaner...and guilt producing.

    It is hard fitting in to the real world when you need it to slow down so you can figure out how to best do something. I didn't have a job when i got this round of ocd, and i can't see me getting one, so i admire you for having one and doing what it takes to get thru the day.




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