Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Longing

Oh, how I have missed you, OCD blogging community!  I have missed a lot of things.  My life has become so busy as of late (in a good way), that I haven't had much time to reflect on my OCD and my progression in fighting back.  Let's just say that the work is going well, and that explaining further would require more explanation than I currently have time for.  But as usual, this is still where I turn when I feel like I need a place to express my feelings related to OCD, and the trials and triumphs in battling it.

Instead of writing further this evening, I have been wanting to share a couple things I discovered when I went to my parents' house over the holidays.  By "things" I mean high school writing assignments.  These particular assignments caught my attention because they struck me as my attempt to try to capture, in words, this invisible and intangible thing forever keeping me bound and restrained - OCD that is.

Back then, I didn't have a name for it.  I thought it was my nature.  I thought it was simply who I was and the way I wanted to do things.  I am only beginning to see (and to allow myself to believe) how much OCD may have played into my daily life even when I was doing "fine."  I want so badly to believe that those times, too, were heavily governed by OCD, that my way of life back then is not how things "have to be."  I think I know that, OCD or not, there is no one way "things have to be."  Nevertheless, being able to excuse myself from some of the pressure to strive and perfect that I used to place upon myself is, well, so much easier to do when I can call it OCD.  Ultimately though, overcoming the OCD will probably require acknowledging that, OCD or not, my decision to actively pursue being "less than perfect" is just that - a decision.  I am deciding to be imperfect.  I am deciding to stop when I could do more.  I will have accept that, in letting myself relax a bit, there is the risk that I will see someone who has done more, tried harder, etc., and I will have to accept that, whether or not I can justify it as fighting my OCD, I made that decision to do less.

That said I was struck by these two poems that I wrote as high school writing assignments because they seem to describe so well that invisible compelling force of OCD before I even knew what OCD was or had a name for that insatiable force.  The first is just a poem, a poem that I probably had to write in that particular form or style.  The content though, within that framework seems to sum up my exhaustion and frustration within the confines of OCD, even back then.

The next one, I'm pretty sure, was the product of an assignment in which we had to write a poem constructed entirely of headlines cut from magazines and newspapers.  Aside from a connecting word here or there and a few carefully placed punctuation marks, the rest was cut, clipped, and pieced together bit by bit from various print sources. I believe each line of the poem came from a separate headline, but when put back together the collective result seems to capture the feeling of my OCD all too well.

It's strange to go back and read them, now that I have the missing puzzle piece that allows the picture to be completed:  I have OCD.  Everything seems to fall into place.  That invisible, intangible force pushing me to continue onward, no matter what the cost, finally has a name.

  Future Aspirations

Search not now for relaxation,
that fruitless form of paralyzation.
How else will you obtain occupation,
and sustain yourself for life's duration?
Toil onward for the future.

And do beware of human fault,
Each night contriving its assault,
Ghastly indulgence will always halt
All productivity within sleep's vault
Do not slumber through your future.

Distribute your time among many a hobby,
So for college you may lobby.
Accomplish much and do be snobby,
You did far less in more clubs than Robbie,
Who devotes himself to one interest for the future.

Collect daily the service hour,
Frame it in your shrine of power;
A trophy case of deeds does tower
For cursory compassion, no need to scour
Motive belongs to the future.

Immediate pleasure elicits sorrow,
If not today, then some tomorrow;
From pursuit, no time to borrow
Bliss, superfluous, jeopardizes the morrow
Until there is no longer a future.

Always remain occupied,
to avoid the conviction that you have not tried.
No opportunities were you denied,
And they will admit by your moribund side,
Passed by you did your future.

An Ode to Infinite Improvement

In a social world that prizes mastery and control,
Every nanosecond counts.
Strive to be your best
In a race against time
So you can be a star.
Get productivity.
Your deadline says you have to work through lunch.
15 minutes could save you fifteen percent.
Off to the races,
Make the years to come the best yet.
You're not just a team.  Now you're a finely tuned machine.

Uncle Sam needs you.  Again.
He's a bit of a control freak.
What's wrong with designer children, bionic athletes, and genetic engineering?
There are a lot of pressures on parents today, which are adding to the competitive feelings of toilet training.
Overly ambitious parents are prone to get carried away with
The mandate to mold our children, to cultivate and improve them.
Don't worry:
Brittany's young, but she's a smart girl.  I'm sure she did the right thing by getting it annulled.

Get fit.
With get-thin-quick schemes.
You don't need a resolution,
Just a spoon,
When you join the low-carb revolution.
Been there?  Done that?
Just exercise exactly four minutes per day.
Or lose weight with the revolutionary Lap-Band.
No pain, some gain,
Home delivery is just a click away.
Then again,
Winnsboro woman loses 70 lbs. in 3 months through hypnosis...

The intensity of our concentration cannot be overstated:
There is very, very little margin for error.
As the pressure for performance increases, so does the need to help distractible children concentrate on the task at hand.
Give a child a second chance at life.
Even Martha "devoted most of her life to improving the quality of life for others,"
But at Harvard, skeptics rule.
All it takes is one false move.
The American people are a very generous people and will forgive almost any weakness, with the possible exception of studpidity.
The State of the (Civil) Union

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Adjustment

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.

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