I Don’t Know Me Anymore

I’m becoming someone I don’t know.

When I was a child, I had obsessions with germs, diseases, and other kinds of contamination. At the time, those were my biggest fears. And although my hand-washing compulsion eventually reached a point where it damaged my skin and had to be noticed, addressed, and dealt with to an extent, because I never got real therapy for my problems, the problems came and went with varying severity and no, I didn’t continue washing my hands until they fell off, but barring that kind of extreme, I continued doing my compulsions… over and over again.

As I grew up, those contamination fears gradually lessened — but not for the right reasons; not because I learned how to deal with them. Instead, my greatest fears simply changed over time. I’m sure I learned a little bit of helpful cognitive-behavioral therapy along the way without realizing it, but for the most part, I always gave in to my fears and anxieties. I always took them at face value.

So now, as an adult, I find myself finally learning how to deal with my obsessions and compulsions. It’s one thing to resist doing a compulsion, but the only way to win is to resist doing a compulsion for the right reasons. Plenty of times as a kid I was told to “Just stop doing that,” but it’s not that simple. It’s not about just stopping doing that; it’s about stopping doing that, and knowing why.

For the last week or so, I’ve been relatively successful. But sometimes it seems like I resist a compulsion and, well… a smaller one just takes its place. Does that still count as a success? If I didn’t ask my husband for reassurance about something for several hours, is it OK that I had to make sure my earrings were perfectly symmetrical instead? I’m assuming the answer has to be yes… because while making sure my jewelry is symmetrical is perhaps not the healthiest hobby, it has to be less unhealthy than a lot of my alternatives. Maybe one day I won’t be the person you always see adjusting her jewelry — but until that day, I’ll have to be happy if I’m doing that and not something worse.

And then there are the times I just feel… empty. It’s like my brain doesn’t know what to do. “Wait, I told you to worry about something… and you’re ignoring me? WTF. I’m not used to this.” So there’s just sort of a blank element. I’m not sure how to progress or be motivated to do anything when my life isn’t motivated by dealing with something my brain thinks is a problem. Kind of scary… but also liberating.

I’ve used a lot of ellipses (“…”) improperly in this entry. But I won’t correct it! No!

2 thoughts on “I Don’t Know Me Anymore

  1. I have similar issues with my Bipolar Disorder. Getting it better controlled means losing a lot the chaotic drama that came with it, & I don’t know what to do with myself; I don’t know who I am without it. I was so sick for so long, I’m having to rediscover who I am now that my life isn’t ruled by depression or anger or drama.

    • willitbeok says:

      I guess it makes sense this might be true for any mental illness, or for simple bad habits — we get so used to them it’s hard to cope without, even though we should feel a lot freer and happier.

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