The Worst Abuse of All

by Bill Brenner on April 8, 2013

I’m taking a lot of abuse lately, the kind that leaves me mentally tired and physically aching. It’s not abuse from family, work colleagues or law enforcement, however. I’m doing it to myself.

Mood music:


In the past, I’d binge myself sick in times of uncertainty, but these days the abuse takes other forms: I allow myself to get lost in the deep weeds of worry. The kicker is that I’m not worried about anything bad. No medical scares or fresh family strife in my world. Deep-fried worry over those things would be more understandable.

In this case, I’m worrying about potentially awesome changes in my life. Someone with a more balanced mind would enjoy the potential for good things and take it a day at a time. But when you have OCD, anticipation is the spiked club you use to repeatedly club yourself. We crave control like a newborn craves mother’s milk. In reality, however, there are few things an individual can control.

So here I am, walking around in a daze, waking up in the middle of the night and having trouble going back to sleep, checking my computer way too often for some sign that answers will come.

I keep repeating a phrase that I learned in a recent course I took on mindfulness-based stress reduction: “The past is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and the present is a gift.” I know these words to be true. Knowing them and living them isn’t necessarily the same thing in my world.

Eventually all this will pass; it always does.

I’ve been praying a lot. Some of you scowl at the idea of praying, but it really helps me. If nothing else, it calms me down and reminds me that I’m not a soul adrift or alone. I have all the support I could ever ask for, and that’ll see me through.

I did a lot of house cleaning this weekend. Ironically, this activity, often conducted in OCD overdrive, helped me wring out some of the anxiety. I guess I needed the exercise that comes with running up and down three flights of stairs all day.

I played a lot of guitar, too. Few things have been better at helping me stay in the moment. And I feel younger when my kids tell me to turn it down.

I used to be a mental mess most of the time, so I’m grateful that these worry binges only come in waves now. The trick is to take them from frequent or even infrequent events to absolutely rare moments.

Out of control
Art by Bill Fennell

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