Thursday, January 21, 2010

OCD Flashback #1

Writing my post yesterday sent me back to when I was 13 or 14. I'd go to the mall, by myself, and circle the food court trying to decide what to eat for lunch. I had a big heavy winter coat on, mostly likely puffy. I'd keep circling, reading every menu, more than once. Being indoors with the dry heat blasting, sweat would start to roll down my sides and into my waistband. I'm sad thinking of this poor girl and how exhausted she'd be by the time she finally ordered something for lunch. The food court was like a spot for OCD galactic meltdown. Not only did I need to choose where to get my lunch, but then which menu items.

In my 20's and 30's, if I had a day off, I'd become ravenous putting off lunch because I wasn't certain which task was "best" to do at any particular time, and if I did stop to eat, then I would have to decide what to eat, whether to eat at home or go out, and if I went out, I had a gauntlet of OCD questions to deal with--which would be the right place to eat? How would I know it was the right place? What did I have yesterday? Will I repeat myself?" All the while, hungry, not thinking clearly, sore footed, and generally frustrated with myself. A bone weary tiredness and a gigantic energy suck.

I loved places where I found something I liked, and could get it every time and it always tasted the same. This would be like a short cut to heaven! But life being what it is, nothing is ever completely consistent, and I am not psychic and cannot predict if the cook is having a bad day, and there is no Guidebook to Exactly What I Should Be Ordering.

I felt at war with myself. Part of me would just be "Order something already dammit. I'm hungry. I have other things to do." And the OCD would be going, "You will feel dread, doom, and not be able to focus on anything else if you pick something wrong, and it will suck up all the rest of your free time trying to make the dread feelings go away." Another sneaky slide into "obsessing about obsessing."

My ERP therapist used to work in a town with an incredible independent donut shop, which I would drive by on my way home, and I would stop and always get two donuts, even if I really was only hungry for one, because if one of them was disappointing, I had a back-up donut. The thought of boxing myself in with just one choice was panic inducing. I. can. not. make. a. mistake.ever. OCD will erode the most basic pleasures of life, including eating.

Related Post:
OCD Flashback #2


  1. I actively avoid restaurants because it is too difficult to choose, even on the most limited menus. It drives my friends crazy when I can't decide, so I ask them to choose for me--if it's not my choice, it can't be wrong, right?

    But I've always thought this was just the last symptom of the eating disorder I struggled with for many years. The way you put it, though, it could be OCD, though. On the other hand, anorexia and OCD are like fraternal siblings, so...

    (This comment brought to you by my obsessive need to figure out if I really do have OCD or am just making stuff up. Which is sort of proof in itself, no? Aaargh.)

    1. I resonate with your last paragraph--this fear that I am making the OCD up. I've met many people in OCD support groups and online who also have this fear. It seems like there is kinship between OCD and eating disorders--the use of rituals to keep a feared consequence away.