Monday, February 22, 2010

OCD Has a Mind of Its Own


Sometimes I feel like my mind is a double decker bus. This morning OCD was driving, and I was on the upper level, feeling like I had no way down. I woke up knowing I had a doctor's appointment and a normal "I'm driving this bus" thought was, "I'll eat breakfast, take a shower, and get out of here by 9:00 to get to my appointment on time." But what has happened in the past and again this morning is that I get the stealthy sabotaging thought of "I'll just check my email while eating," which led to "I didn't finish compiling the list of OCD Support Groups yet. I need to finish that." And after an hour on the computer, a sore shoulder from hunching over the keyboard, and not yet having showered, I ran around trying to get myself out the door.

I was late for my appointment and frustrated with myself for repeating the same pattern again. This deteriorated my mood and I started ritualizing to damp down the "I'm worthless" thoughts, looking up "compulsive slowness" and then transitioning into systematically searching for support groups in each of the 50 states. The observant part of myself could see that this had OCD written all over it--anytime I find a way to "make sure" that I don't miss anything, accompanied by a brief hit of relief is a sign that I'm headed further into my disorder.

The OCD craving is to make a complete list, a perfect list, as an end to itself. There is the grain of truth that I learned a lot from going to a support group, and would like to make a useful resource, but the OCD says "Do it now. Do it all at once. Don't take a break. Keep trying harder. Keep looking." The reality is that there are states without any support groups for OCD, and this makes me sad. Feeling sad is another cue for my OCD to step in and anesthetize any troubling feelings. The OCD is always ready to drive the bus.

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