Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Stuck in my Head

Kei - Principles of Anxiety

Yesterday I was driving with a couple bowling balls in my trunk, and every so often they would give a lurching jolt as they clanked together. It made me think of Jeff Bell's account of his "hit and run" anxiety--a constant fear that he had hit someone with his car and going back to check the road--and how the bowling balls could provide an Exposure to that fear, with their unannounced thumping, and practicing driving on without turning back to check the scene.

Until I read about this OCD theme, I didn't realize it existed. That is the challenge with OCD. It's a shapeshifter, and can take an infinite variety of forms. Sometimes in my support group it was difficult for people to relate to obsessions that weren't like their own. It's so much easier to come up with Exposures for anyone but ourselves!

But there are more commonalities than appear on the surface. When I have an unexplained body sensation or symptom, I immediately fear something is wrong. I want to know what caused it and why it's there, just as someone might hear an unexplained noise while driving, and be afraid they hit someone, and want to know what the noise was, and that it's not dangerous.

I think about potential contamination scenarios quite frequently since I work in a hospital, but the thoughts don't stick. My OCD doesn't latch onto this very often. It's not one of my major themes, and the temptation is to assume that my health fears are more realistic or more painful, or more likely to happen, and that's why I'm worried about them. Some people get a song stuck in their head and can't focus on anything else, and fear going crazy. The OCD amplifies something that happens all the time, and sticks tenaciously.


  1. That's a great piece of art. It is interesting what gets some of us going, and not others, and yet is still essentially the same OCD issue. I have really bad contamination fears, and so could never work in a hospital. I admire that! I get the music stuck in my head thing, but it does not cause too much distress. It is kind of like tinitus, or ringing in the ears to me. A constant background that fades in and out. OCD is a monster with so many tentacles.

  2. Yeah, I was drawn to this art as soon as I saw it! I agree that OCD is a monster with tentacles--that's a great image.