Friday, December 14, 2007

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

An anxiety disorder characterized by unwanted repetitive thoughts (obsessions) and/or actions (compulsions).

My roommate and I are hosting a party tomorrow. I have been busy this whole week, and so I haven't had time to clean our apartment. I was finally able to get to it around 11:00 tonight. For the sake of time, a lot of people would probably just do a quick cleanup -- nothing major. That's what I intended. Almost three hours later, however, I am fighting the urge to keep cleaning. To tell the truth, I'll most likely give in to that urge just a bit. I am throwing a party tomorrow night, afterall.

Not that big of a deal, right? Well, considering that I just spent about an hour and a half vacuuming 1200 square feet . . . I'd say that's abnormal. Of course I couldn't just empty out the vacuum bag; I had to clean the vacuum. Of course I couldn't just vacuum the floor; I had to pre-clean it -- that is, I had to thoroughly sweep the utility room floor and comb all the carpet with my hands to get any excess hair or loose debris.

The thing is, is that I'm simultaneously disgusted with and proud of myself when I let my OCD kick in. I revel in my detailed cleaning and exactness. In fact, I think that's one reason I'm such a good copyeditor -- checking and re-checking a document for proper formatting is not a big deal to me.

But when it becomes exhausting, I know I have a problem. Tonight is one of those nights. I'm tired, but repetitive thoughts keep going through my head:
I'll just clean my toilet, my sink, and fold my clothes. I'll clean my toilet, my sink, and fold my clothes. Toilet, sink, and fold my clothes. Toilet, sink, clothes. Toilet, sink, clothes. Look at that dust on my desk. Look at it. Just sitting there. But if I dust that, then I have to move my papers, which means I'll have to file them.

Aghhhhh! ENOUGH! Writing it down reminds me of when I was younger, and I used to spend hours upon hours deep-cleaning my bathroom every Saturday. Somehow, I was able to train myself to get better. I gradually let myself become messy. No, not dirty -- just messy. Since about the age of 17 or 18, in fact, I've been quite well. I haven't had to struggle with obsessive thoughts and compulsions that much. But there are times when it comes out. Like right now. It's probably when I'm extremely busy or stressed, which is when most personality ticks are exacerbated.

What am I trying to say here . . . ? I don't know really, except that I thought I'd share something about my life with you. Can you relate? Do you have a story about anxiety? What did you do to remedy the problem?

I'll tell you this much: reading my scriptures helps me deal with OCD -- more than anything else. I might never be able to explain it, but it does. Truly.


Thing I'm thankful for: Journaling. It helps, too.

9 Comments:

Blogger Heather S. said...

You know, I can somewhat relate to the cleaning thing. It's a kick I get on and I just can't stop. It doesn't happen A LOT to the point of OCD... but it does occasionally. I also find it's good thinking time. I can get pretty OCD about cleaning my car too. Getting in the air vents and in the cup holders and gear shifter....... it's quite satisfying that's for sure.

10:17 AM  
Blogger Catherine said...

Oh SAWA SAWA SAWA, I am so sorry I didn't realize you had it when you were little. If we could have only communicated about things better. You will do better. Just get some more rest and relaxation. Love MOM

12:58 AM  
Blogger Jacki said...

Whoa Danny Tanner vacuuming the vacuum! I wish I had a little of that. My problem is that I do skip corners to "just get it finished". I need a little bit of you and you need a little bit of me and then we would be the PERFECT WOMAN!!!

7:30 PM  
Anonymous Summer said...

I laugh and laugh. I too clean the vaccuum! I dust and wash it. How can the thing that is supposed to be cleaning be dirty. No sense, no sense at all. I used to list what I needed to do over and over and over and over and over.....in my head. Over and over and over and over....It was so bad I didn't sleep. Then I started having stabbing chest pains stabbed with a cold sharp long blade and sometimes the pain lasted several seconds. The pain eventually turned into "heart attacks" and I couldn't breathe. These would mainly happen during the night. Finally I went on medication for the anxiety/obsessions/compulsions (hand washing, etc.)Sooo I feel that I have shared too much now.

3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Have you been diagnosed with obsessive-compulsive disorder by a medical professional? Cleaning an appliance is completely normal, but if you're flippantly saying you have OCD (a real mental disorder), that's awfully disrespectful toward the people who actually struggle with it. :(

6:28 PM  
Blogger Sara said...

To Anonymous:
No, I haven't been diagnosed with OCD by a medical professional, but the disorder "runs" in my family, and I know enough to know I have it. Should I have gone into detail about my anxiety for you? Would you like me to describe my inner-inner-inner-most thoughts? Well, I won't.

Besides, the tone of this post isn't flippant at all. Did you even read the 2nd to last paragraph?

2:04 AM  
Blogger Harry Truman said...

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6:03 AM  
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2:43 AM  
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8:02 AM  

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