Delaying Compulsive Internet Searching: Hard and Yet Rewarding
Thursday I didn't get on the computer until 10:30 am. It was one of my goals from my OCD support group to pick a day this week to delay sitting down in front of the computer. It was definitely an Exposure. When I start websearching, I am in a kind of groggy trance. Searching the internet distracts me from anxiety and fear and is a compulsion. Spending 3 hours on my own time was a challenge.
In the past, I've regarded any improvement in my OCD or a "good day" as a fluke, and have a desperate sense of wanting it to last, and fearing that it won't. It's as if I see OCD as the weather, a climate that can change capriciously. But if I turn on the computer, I am stepping into the storm. It feels like I'm in a calm place at first, but it's actually the eye of the hurricane, and deceptive in its stillness. I go into a zone of deeply ingrained habit and muscle memory, into stiffness in my back, shoulders, neck and hands, and by the time I get off the computer, I am sapped of energy and my anxiety level rebounds back up, as I see how much time I lost. Then it starts all over, getting back on the computer to numb myself again.
So Thursday it was me alone in the house, wanting to flee this Exposure, wanting to turn on the computer, and at the same time marveling at how much I can get done when I don't turn the computer on. The OCD wants to seize hold of this and berate me for not doing the Exposure sooner, or more often. It's amazing how contradictory my OCD is--advocating for both complete compulsive immersion online, and for perfectly doing my Exposures. If the OCD wasn't intertwined with the whole apparatus of my anxiety, I'd call it out right away, but it has a secret weapon, my nervous system, my feelings of dread, nausea, and panic, but I'm learning to question the OCD's credibility.