Busy

I’m so, so busy. I have more responsibilities that I can juggle at once right now, and I keep dropping one or two and having to pick them back up.

But I’m also more happy.

I’m the kind of person who needs to stay busy, because if I have too much free time I think myself into a depression. OCD is a disorder of over-thinking, so that’s exactly what I don’t need time to do.

Now all I need to do is learn to adapt to the higher stress level of being super-busy. It leaves me with little time for my obsessions to creep in, but it is hectic and chaotic. If I can just stay calm it will be smooth sailing.

The OCD Workbook

I can’t really review it until I’m done with it, so this is more like a partial review. Yesterday was my birthday, and one of my presents was the Third Edition of The OCD Workbook by Bruce M. Hyman and Cherry Pedrick. I picked it up to just skim through for ideas and tips, not really planning on actually buying it, but my husband ended up getting it for me. And now that I have it at home, I realize it’s probably a good thing because sometimes I over-estimate my strength in cognitive-behavioral therapy. It’s easy to get going and think “I’ve got this down now,” meanwhile problems start creeping in.

The book has a great general overview of OCD and related disorders, making it an excellent choice for family members to read and get a good grasp of what their loved ones with OCD might be going through. And it’s so important for loved ones to understand. It’s easy to be well-meaning and give bad advice because you’re thinking of what would work for you, not the person with OCD; sometimes I do the opposite, and offer advice that would be good for me and my OCD but horrible for a “normal” person.

I like that acknowledgement of “primarily obsessional” OCD is included. “Pure-O” may not truly be a thing, but “Primarily-O” should totally be.

And yeah, it is a workbook, so there are sections you fill in, like checking off your own symptoms and writing in personal history. There are also neat little inspirational quotes at the beginning of each chapter. I tend to be cynical, so I don’t like overly-phony-positive motivational quotes — but these are pretty reasonable.

It also looks like there’s a pretty thorough section about tips for taking medicine along with CBT, but I can’t say for sure if it’s good since I’ve never been on psychiatric medicine. Maybe someone else would be better qualified to review that part.

I really like the list of key cognitive errors of people with OCD. Recently there was a link going around on the internet about 50 common cognitive distortions which I also really liked, and that one is even more thorough and thought-provoking. But this one is good because it’s specific for people with OCD. There aren’t 50 here, so a lot of yours (or mine) might still be missing. I think my worst ones are: pessimistic bias; what-if thinking; intolerance of uncertainty; and over-estimating risk, harm, and danger. Intolerance of uncertainty seems to be what’s ultimately at the root of all OCD, though.

I’ve also realized how selfish my OCD fears are! It’s always about me. Maybe I’m going to get hurt, sick, contaminated, or maybe something bad is going to happen to me. I’m not one of those with OCD who worries constantly about the possibility of harming others. Then again, that could also be because somewhere deep inside me, there’s always at least a tiny awareness of the fear not being “real.” So maybe I only worry about myself because I subconsciously know the fear isn’t “real.” As a child I was deathly afraid of battery acid, but it was OK to get others to touch it for me, because on some level I probably knew it wouldn’t actually kill them — I just didn’t know how to get rid of that all-pervading anxiety. Now I realize I don’t have to — I just have to learn to acknowledge and live with the anxiety.

I’ll continue reviewing The OCD Workbook as I go through it. So far I like it, and it’s good to do first thing in the morning, and just before bed — when my obsessions seem most ready to pounce.

Making Fun of Tourette’s

Google “OCD jokes” and “Tourette’s jokes” and you’ll see a big difference. Of course, OCD is no stranger to stereotypes — but they are at least much closer to the truth than the ones about TS. People with OCD do not necessarily, but do frequently have obsessions with germs, neatness, symmetry, and orderliness.

So it’s not that I have a problem with people making fun of Tourette’s. As long as it’s done in a respectful way, it’s OK to make jokes about pretty much everything in my opinion, and can add a touch of optimism to an otherwise depressing situation. The problem is that when people make fun of TS, 9 out of 10 times, they’re not even making fun of TS — they’re making fun of what very few people with TS actually do. Not just that, but they’re making fun of what very few people with TS actually do while wrongly assuming they do it out of anger or inability to control rage, or at the very least poor impulse control in general, which is also not true. (Some studies indicate people with TS might actually have better impulse control than the general population, because they have so much practice resisting impulses!) So they double-misunderstand it. You can’t make fun of something you double-misunderstand. So all I ask is that before you make a joke about TS, learn what it actually is. I’d be happy to laugh with you about how I randomly blink, clear my throat, sniffle, or gasp repeatedly at inappropriate times because I can see the humor in it — I just can’t see the humor in something that’s mean-spirited, or has no bastion of truth.

The Doors

First: I don’t like The Doors.

But you know what else I don’t like? The doors at Wal-Mart. For a long time something about them was bothering me, and I just couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Then yesterday, it hit me. Nevermind the fact I probably shouldn’t be shopping at Wal-Mart at all. The issue I have is that when I’m leaving the store, one pair of doors is labeled “Enter” and the other is labeled “Exit” — but that’s the label above the door. On the door itself underneath “Enter” it reads “DO NOT ENTER” (because one is not supposed to exit through the entrance) and something about this has been disturbing me. The conflict between “Enter” and “DO NOT ENTER.” You know what it is? I shouldn’t even BE ABLE TO READ “Enter” above the door. The fact that I’m able to read it indicates to me that I should go through the door. But I shouldn’t. Why did they even bother to make it so I could read the “Enter” sign from inside? They had to put a sign inside specifically for the purpose of me being able to read it, and if it simply appeared backwards, half-visible from the opposite side, I wouldn’t feel compelled to go through it.

Now That’s Funny

Humor — it’s a tool which can be used for many purposes. Bullies can make fun of us to torture us and make us feel bad about ourselves. Likewise, we may use self-deprecating humor to deal with our insecurities — we can beat those bullies to the punch. By saying it first ourselves, we confront our fears about our deepest weaknesses and those weaknesses don’t seem so mighty anymore. Or we can use humor just because it’s funny, to make us feel better in general. For me, it’s always been important that I am able to laugh even when really bad things are going on in my life — sometimes even to be able to laugh at those very bad things. Maybe it’s because I’ve had so many bad things happen that it’s simply impossible to put on that “serious” mask that stays on when stuff goes wrong. When bad stuff is happening, that’s just normal life, not a special event — so I have to learn to move normally through it. (I’m not saying I’m great at dealing with bad things necessarily; just that I’ve grown accustomed to certain kinds of bad things as a regular occurrence.)

Shortly after my mom died, I was talking to a coworker who didn’t know my parents were a bit older when I was born, and had probably assumed my mom was very young when she died. I remarked that my mom was 59, to which she responded: “That’s good.” Immediately I smiled, us both knowing she meant “That’s good that your mom wasn’t very young when she died” and not “That’s good that your mom died.” We were able to share a comic moment about the sad event. The best part is I know that’s the kind of thing my mom would have loved. If she were there, she would have laughed at that joke too. She wouldn’t want people walking on egg-shells to be extra faux sensitive, afraid to talk about the subject of death; afraid to talk about the worst things that can happen. She would much rather everyone be like she was; honest, blunt, terse, maybe at times caustic. But not phony.

Of course, situations like this have a fine line of what’s appropriate and what’s not. But if you’re really paying attention, it’s pretty easy not to cross that line — with people you know pretty well, anyway.

There’s No Wrong Way to Eat Diseases

Asperger syndrome has been hypothesized as existing on the OCD spectrum? Say whaaaaat, Wikipedia?!

Well, I guess it’s not that far-fetched. I was thinking about how it seems OCD and Tourette’s awareness both have the same color associated with them (teal) and happened to come across this. Maybe I’ll meet someone with autism and we’ll say:

“Hey, you got your autism on my OCD!”
“You got your OCD in my autism!”
“Two great disorders that taste great together.”

There’s no wrong way to be mentally ill/developmentally disabled!

Videogame OCD

It could mean a lot of different things. For me, it means I have trouble playing videogames I really, really like; just like I have trouble forming/maintaining relationships with people I really, really like because the more I really, really like something the more my OCD makes me really, really afraid.

I keep starting Diablo II/III over because my character’s skill points don’t seem “just right”, although that actually doesn’t so much apply to III because it seems skill points are assigned in more of a linear, always-the-same way (I could be wrong though because I just started playing). Anyway, it’s super hard to find a character to stick with because I’m not sure my game-play experience will be perfect, so I keep starting over — over and over.

The bright sides are:

1) I’m really good at playing Hardcore, where your character can only die once. Hardcore is great for people who excel at being careful, which is totally me. Being Careful is my middle name. Also, if my character dies I always wanted to start over anyway! (Although OCD is more of a “compelled” feeling than a “want-to” feeling, the line is sometimes blurred.)

2) Once I do stick with a character, I tend to develop it really well because I put a lot of thought into it.

The downside is:

I have very few high-level characters to show for my hours upon hours of playing — partly because I also have many old accounts that got deleted over and over, like my characters, because they didn’t seem just right.