Sunday, January 24, 2010

OCD Flashback #2: Verbatims

I was 19, and had my first boyfriend. We would have long conversations on the phone, and then after I hung up, I'd work on reconstructing the conversation in its entirety. I filled scraps of paper with keywords. If I could not remember the order in which something was said, or what brought up a particular subject, I would sit there, frozen, going over it, hoping to jar the elusive chronology loose, dredge up the missing details. If I could not remember every line, I would feel a tightening in my chest, a vertigo of fear and anxiety.

The thought of losing even the smallest scrap of conversation drove me to document everything. I was hugely frustrated when I discovered the keywords were not enough to remind me what they were about. I knew this need to reconstruct was not normal. It ate up a lot of time and mental space. I half-heartedly wrote that if I wanted to be a therapist, at least I would be very good at writing verbatims of case sessions.

I was all alone in my fears. I couldn't tell anyone what I was doing. They would think I was loopy. I was living in a new country. I was homesick. My father had left. I really never expected anyone to love me. I was afraid of losing this boyfriend. OCD latched onto this with a vengeance--Just write it all down. Capture it. Preserve your relationship by hoarding every word.

Related Post:
OCD Flashback #1


  1. I've thought about (but not actually done, yet) videotaping my conversations with my boyfriend so I can go back to the conversation whenever I want. I would have to secretly film of course, via strategic placement of my computer's webcam so he didn't see what I was doing. Or maybe I could just always have it on, so I could rewind to certain moments and make sure he made the facial expression he did or said what he said how he said it. :(

  2. Oh Jenny, this is a hard place to be! I met someone at my ocd support group who feared she was saying something blasphemous every time she opened her mouth, and her psychiatrist told her to carry a recorder around to make sure, and it made her much much worse, because even with the tape, it didn't stick, and she watched it over and over. Have your read Jeff Bell's book about his ocd, Rewind Replay Repeat? I related to a lot of his story about going over things in his mind.