Super strange being in this “new normal” with OCD. I’ve noticed what was considered “abnormal behavior” before is now just being careful.
We got a grocery delivery today. I maintained my distance and wiped down the groceries. Wiped down things I touched during the process of putting them away. Washed my hands. I thought “this is what it would be like constantly if my OCD was unchecked”. I’ve been close to this level before there was a pandemic. But now it’s considered cautious behavior.
And I wonder where the lines blur, or when they can blur. Were they always blurred?
I read that some people are being triggered relentlessly during these times, and I can’t imagine what that must be like.
I think I’m in the “other group”. The ones that are just sailing on as usual. Ironically, I haven’t had any major changes in my behavior. Just taking the usual precautions as everyone else is. Washing my hands, disinfecting, and staying indoors as often as possible. Although, I’ve always had a tendency to stay indoors most of the time. So this paranoid way of life is nothing new to me.
And that’s the funny thing about it all. It’s like looking out on everyone and seeing them acting at your worst moments of OCD. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone. I would take the entire burden of it if I had to, because that was once my life and I’m used to it. I hope all of this passes soon, because I prefer a life without a pandemic.
I had a dream you and I were sitting at the table. The angle didn’t make sense from where we usually sat, I realized there was no floor and we were floating.
You were telling me how you gave a compliment to someone and they reacted negatively. Almost hostile. I wasn’t understanding exactly what happened so you turned your head to me and explained. Your eyes changed, but then I realized we were only lit by a candle and the rest of the room was pitch black. I couldn’t see the candle.
I heard a tapping noise. We both just stared at each other. I thought it would be funny to ask what that noise was, all spooky-like as a prank to make you laugh. I leaned back to listen and then, well, I guess I became possessed by a demon, or attacked by one, or both. It all sounds cliche now that I write it out. I pitched backwards violently and you became a blur, my body was twisted like something grabbed my neck and turned me sideways. I was holding on to the chair so I wouldn’t fall into the void, or being forced to hold on, it was hard to tell. You giggled, you ironically thought this was the prank. I was pitched forward fast, my head slammed on the table and was pinned down by a force, I could feel claws in my head but they didn’t hurt, just a lot of pressure. I couldn’t move. I could see you sideways then see you lean down towards the table, blurry, I couldn’t see well at this point.
And this image of you slowly materialized to you in the bed as I started to wake up. Was I hallucinating you? I thought my eyes should be closed. They are open this time, and I can’t move again. I tried to say something at this point, for the first time I tried saying “help!” but the paralysis held me silent. I think trying to say something made it worse for a bit, and I got scared. I thought my dream followed me for real this time. I tried to move my arm and it wouldn’t move. An eternity of maybe 5 seconds passed and I was out, escaping into reality. It’s amazing how many thoughts you can have when time doesn’t seem to follow the rules. I heard the tapping of who knows what, normal building noises probably. I laid there trying not to freak out, still straddling between worlds but slowly crossing over. Trying not to look around too much.
I think it was bound to happen at some point. My sleep paralysis demon has found me…and it’s kind of an asshole.
Content warning: child abuse.
I have a whole lot of memories that are deleted from my brain.
When I’m using examples from my past I know for a fact those things did occur. They have been confirmed by others when I’m in doubt.
The memory loss falls in the range of my childhood to adolescence. It happened because my childhood was rough and abusive. There’s a lot of blank spots where I dissociated, even during the few years after the abuse. Dealing with trauma, you get the picture.
Some memories of abuse are crystal clear moments that I would give anything to be false. Some moments were told to me later by people who witnessed it…that I don’t remember at all.
It took me a long time to piece together when my OCD kicked in. It was during this time, so I pinpointed it at the earliest real memory of a symptom. If abuse is the trigger then there’s a whole lot of other stuff that needs to be considered with the OCD. It’s like unpacking a suitcase of disorders. What I can say is that things did get easier when I realized that abuse is the root cause of a lot of things going on in my brain.
Either way, the OCD was going to appear at some point in my life. Maybe it’s a good thing it appeared early, since I don’t have a comparison of what it’s like to be without it.
Lately I’ve been wondering how interesting it is that we tend to overthink in general. One can say I’ve been overthinking about overthinking.
In some cases, it’s helpful to overthink. We can make logical decisions based on the thoughts we sifted through. In other cases, we can get trapped in a never ending cycle of dwelling.
This is how my obsessions form most of the time. I always get caught in that cycle of overthinking, somehow tricking myself into the habit that I can think my way out of anything. But the problem is (and I’ve mentioned this comparison before), those with OCD tend to get their cars stuck in the mud. The car is our brain trying to think it’s way out, and sometimes we need help to unstick it.
And then I wonder about how awesome we all are at problem solving. Since we tend to overthink about a lot of things. We tend to excel at getting unstuck when it comes to things that don’t trigger our OCD.
It’s really about how much discomfort and stress is caused by the overthinking. I try to catch myself when a stressful thought passes through my mind more than 3 times. How addicting it can be, ruminating. It can be a safe space and a terrible thing at the same time. I’m aware of what happens when I let myself dwell.
In the Air Force I was stationed in New Jersey which made for some fun weekends. I made a groups of friends through a theater group the base had. We’d put on shows and it was awesome. We’d travel on weekends together and the stories I have from those times are endless.
Some places were familiar to some of us so someone always acted as a guide. These places included Atlantic City, Hoboken, and of course New York City. NYC quickly became our go-to once we found out they never charged us to ride the train if we showed them our military IDs. There were other sweet perks we found out about.
My group of buddies and I often took the train into NYC on the weekends and would pick up tickets from a military kiosk. Almost every weekend, hop on in New Jersey and get off at Penn Station. We’d get epic deals for broadway shows which was our usual thing after finding a fun place to eat. Sometimes we’d take the subway to the village to explore. Sometimes we would club hop after the show and hang out at a 24-hour Starbucks until the trains were departing again. Once we went to a boxing match at Madison Square Garden for a few dollars each. Afterward we realized they were 300 dollar seats in the vicinity of where Mike Tyson was watching. I remember Evander Holyfield walking behind me, seeing Don King on my way to the bathroom, and Puff Daddy randomly coming in to sit down and watch.
My group had a big inside joke. Every time we went out to eat, it was someone’s birthday. There would be a secret race to see who could make it someone’s birthday first. I saw a lot of different restaurant birthdays: clapping wait staff, extremely loud singing, cupcakes with a candle, a literal pile of whip cream with a candle, a sombrero materializing out of nowhere to land on a friend’s head, and fancy mini-cakes. It was never my “birthday” and I was relieved.
But then, in NYC we were at a restaurant called Jekyll and Hyde. It was odd. It had decor that would move, doors that looked like bookcases, paintings’ eyes would move, and sculptures on the wall would talk through speakers. I had a plan to make it someone’s birthday. I had just waved down our waitress when this giant head of an Egyptian Pharaoh opens its mouth and loudly booms into the restaurant that it was someone’s birthday and everyone must listen. “Happy Birthday Leann!” this ginormous head on the wall booms with glowing eyes. I was at the head of the table, directly across the wall where this giant head was staring directly at me. We had a moment. I sat there as the waitress I just waved at came over, and she wished me a happy birthday, and asked if I needed anything. I just shook my head in defeat. A cupcake was brought over by someone dressed as a mad scientist and I thanked them.
I tend to google a lot of stuff when in full obsession mode.
This can be anything from statistics on theft and fires to prevention of those things. Like for instance security objects like cameras and devices for the front door. I put myself in a position where I sit and obsess for long periods of time. This carries over to intrusive thoughts and fears that I know are not worth worrying about beyond basic preparation.
So that whole thing where Facebook and Instagram shows you products aligned with your searches REALLY sucks when it comes to this. Ironically it makes me search it less so I don’t see it again and get triggered to do more internet searching. It’s like social media ads show me when I’m overthinking. So thanks for calling me out at least.
I feel like I’m slacking on posting but I also believe that I shouldn’t write unless I really feel like it.
Instead, during the times I like to write I’ve been diving into video games. I’ve posted about this before, and still stand by my observation that my OCD becomes a whisper when I’m in a different world.
Self care for me is video games with a purring cat on my lap.
I was in school for a few years, and wasn’t able to really keep up to date with games so this is like a catch up for me. Since my last post about video games I’ve beat Red Dead 2, Witcher 3, and I’m currently playing Fallout 4. Next I’m probably going to play The Outer Worlds. I’m stoked for Cyberpunk 2077 and the new Animal Crossing.
I noticed a big shift today when I shut off the console and looked at my phone and found myself chewing on my fingers. It’s like I always have to have my hands attached to an activity or this annoying thing happens.
I need to find a way to bridge how I feel when I play and when I’m not. I think this is something I’m going to start to work on.
Since I’ve participated in the study, it really brought back some memories of how I acted when I was growing up.
My stuffed animals were arranged “just so”. I had a shelf where I put some of them, ordered from tallest to shortest right to left. If I ran out of room, I would put the others in front, sorted my tallest to shortest starting at the back.
I always thought I was neglecting them, not giving them enough attention. Thinking they had souls and emotions, that they were getting sad.
My favorites I would put on my bed in front of my pillows. Arranged with the tallest in the middle, shorter ones on the sides and even shorter ones in front.
My favorite past time was sorting. My toy figurines were lined up in a dollhouse, not in any particular order but I made sure to cover enough ground with them. I would take them out and repeat this.
Homework was difficult and I would always prefer to play. I never understood my homework and always needed help. This problem with comprehension stretched out to high school. I always showed up to class but couldn’t pay attention and couldn’t understand pretty much anything. I barely graduated high school.
I became obsessed with theater in high school and I wonder if that’s because it was all visual and verbal. Even now, in my thirties and recently graduated from college I’ve always understood information better spoken or visual. If I was able to, depending on the class, I wouldn’t take notes so I could absorb it better. My writing gets jumbled and backwards and I found I was relying on computers to correct my spelling and grammar. I’m learning that OCD has not only been a presence but a driving force of how I learn and not learn. It’s like a cruel prankster.
I can see how it can be confused for ADD. I become absorbed in “something else” instead of what I need to be focusing on. My attention span is extremely short one minute and just fine the next. The normal part of my brain saying, “what are you doing?” while the OCD part is at the wheel. Sometimes forming a sentence leads to embarrassing results, the dyslexia impostor. Is it all of these things with OCD as the source, or just OCD with everything else mixed in to it? Are they all separate and existing simultaneously? It’s all very complex.
One of my big triggers is reading news articles. It’s only the local news that really gets to me.
I love my city, the people, the food, the scenery. It’s a place that someone can fall in love with easily. Unfortunately with all of the positive aspects, there’s a big negative one. The crime here is outrageous.
I know there’s crime everywhere and it’s naive to believe that there exists a place with zero crime. But I’ve grown up in my city and have seen a big shift in crime levels. There’s something to be said about hearing gunshots from your living room, then seeing an article the next day about that exact sound you heard. Seeing articles about someone getting killed for simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
So with this, I’m always wondering if my paranoia about break-ins and violence is legit or OCD related. It’s normal around here to double check doors. I realize it’s not normal when I’m checking it multiple times, knowing that it’s locked and checking anyway. It’s normal in my neighborhood to not walk the streets at night. It’s not normal over-worrying about my boyfriend walking from the car to the front door, in a secured area.
I try not to rationalize my OCD symptoms but it’s difficult because of this. If I normalize something that is considered an obsession or compulsions it can have a snowball effect.
I always wonder if I move to another city one day that has noticeably less crime, that I’ll have culture shock. I’m just hoping this place I call my home can get it under control, find the resources to make a change, and put them to good use.