Thursday, June 17, 2010

OCD and Embracing the Grey Areas

I realized something this week about my OCD that I've never noticed before. I'm uncomfortable with grey areas.

It's true in so many ways: I fear that I've done something wrong, and strive to always do right. I'm obsessed with knowing; not knowing is bad, and knowing is good. I want to know that something either will never happen, because the only other option is that it absolutely will. (I'm over-simplifying in every example, but at the core of nearly every issue is tension between extremes.)

If, after assessing each issue in question I fall on the less-desirable side of the grey, I have to do whatever it takes to traverse the expanse. When I can't, I'm wracked by anxiety. If I've done something wrong, I have to apologize and try to make it right. Sometimes I even try to reverse what I've done. If I don't know something, I feel guilty out of some obligation to know. And we all know what happens when a person with OCD has trouble with the uncertainty that a worst fear may come true.

To further complicate things, I'm impatient. I can't wait to decide that something falls on one side of the grey area or the other.

This impatience comes out in the real world, too (vs. the world of fear inside). Say I'm waiting for a boss to make a decision. Is he going to decide that we're going to take this job, or not? If we are then I have to start working right away because the deadline is approaching. If not then I can do other work. I'm either all in, or I'm moving on.

There's a responsibility issue all wrapped up in this, too. Something is either all my fault, or I'm 100% in the clear. Say I'm driving to work. I see a man coming out of the woods. What if he just got done burying a body? If I don't say something then when the murder is uncovered, the death will be all my fault.

I thought about it wonderment and asked why this hasn't come to me sooner; it would be the perfect exposure to practice in my GOAL group, but I'm not even sure I know how to approach it.
People aren't all good or all bad. There is such thing as only half getting it. The very antidote to fear is living in the grey area. Any ideas for helping me see that?


If you have any ideas for exposures to tackle the discomfort of grey areas, post them here! If you don't know what an exposure is or are new to OCD and ERP, a good place to start is wikipedia, with the search term "exposure and response prevention."

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A Blogger's Homecoming

Man, it's been a while...

But I'm making a concerted effort to come back here. Often.

I've been noticing the little things creep up for me. I think I'm fine, but it's the seemingly insignificant checks I'll do, or the few minutes too long I spend thinking about something, that reminds me that OCD is always with me. I need to be here, writing, logging, reflecting--monitoring my progress.

Today I was reminded that I need this in my life. The more mental energy this blog takes up, that's just a little less for OCD to occupy.