My OCD is Alive and Well

by Bill Brenner on October 25, 2010

Packing for a trip to Toronto, I caught myself doing some very OCD-like things. Even in recovery, it’s always there, below the surface. Here are a few examples.

Mood music:

What I did: I checked all the contents in my laptop bag last night. Three times. I took the laptop out and put it back in three times. I checked my digital recorder three times. I thrice checked to make sure the bottle of Prozac was where it’s supposed to be.

How it’s better than it used to be: Back in the day, I would check everything too many times to count. I would remove EVERYTHING from the bag and put it back in, then repeat the process up to 10 times. I left work late many times because I wasted time on this sort of thing.

What I did: I obsessively took care of house chores to make life easier on Erin. I took out the trash, made the kids’ lunches, carried down a basket of laundry, and went around the living room picking up toys and making sure everything was just so.

How it’s better than it used to be: In addition to doing these things, I used to pace around worrying about everything to do with the travel: Whether I’d get to the plane on time, whether the plane would get me to my destination without crashing, and whether I would measure up to the work task before me. That was the fear and anxiety eating at me.

This time, the stuff I did was useful and I didn’t worry about the rest. Now I don’t give a thought to the airport stuff. I just go to the airport and smoothly go through security and find my coffee. Instead of freaking out over lines, I’m more relaxed, talking to people in line and even enjoying their company.

I don’t obsessively review the schedule for whatever conference I’m going to. Now I look it over once and then play things by ear once there. I always get at least two stories and two podcasts done, and I don’t get sick to my stomach about getting it done. I just do it and I LOVE it.

The lesson of this post is that the mental ticks never go away entirely. And that’s OK.

Now when I catch myself in the act, I laugh at myself and move on. It’s a gift to be able to do that.

The real damaging, time-wasting and binge-inducing stuff is gone. What’s left I can handle. 

People who seek treatment for their struggles tend to go looking for the Happily Ever After. You’ll figure it out and never worry about anything again.

The thing is, that’s a bullshit notion. You’re not supposed to go through life without a care in the world.

The lessons continue.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Erin Brenner October 25, 2010 at 3:27 am

While you may have tackled the chores obsessively, I appreciate them being done!

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