After months of no updates on this blog, I figured people have thought that like so many other blog writers, I’ve dropped off the face of the earth – and honestly, I did. But if you could graze the pages of the many little notebooks I keep in my purse, leaf through the pages of my portable journal, and scour the scribbles on the backs of receipts I keep in my wallet, then you would see that I’ve been thinking about this blog consistently for a while now.
Ironically, this is my main problem.
I once had a supervisor tell me that I over thought things more than anyone they had ever met. Even though I knew they were right, the comment hurt and confused me: how could over thinking be a bad thing? I was being cautious, meticulous, careful – a perfectionist! Isn’t that a good thing? Wouldn’t an employer want a worker who thoroughly considers all their options?
The problem is, having anxiety, I think of everything that could happen from every decision I make. Every. Possible. Outcome.
Example: Last night my mom and I made a pizza. I put avocado on my half.
Should I put the avocado on before or after the pizza bakes? If I put it on before will it taste bad? Could I get sick from that? But if I put it on before it bakes, will it make the dough moist? Will it get mushy? I better check online…ok, it doesn’t matter when I put it on.
Time elapsed: 10-15 minutes.
Ok, now I’m ready to dice up these avocados.
How should I cut them? What if scrape the skin on one of the pieces? Will that make me sick? How would I know if I was allergic? Oh stop, that’s ridiculous…hmm, are these pieces too big? Will I ruin half of the pizza? Oh god, my mom will be so upset if I screw this up…I hate to waste food. What will I eat if I mess up this pizza? We’ll have to throw half of it out and it will all be my fault and my mom will be so annoyed, and she doesn’t need the stress and…
Time elapsed: 15-20 minutes.
The pizza cooks. All disasters averted. It’s delicious – dinner success!
But then I notice, the avocado is starting to turn brown.
Oh shit, I am so dumb, I’m 24 years old and I can’t even cook a damn pizza correctly! Why didn’t I think that the avocado would turn brown? How many times do I need to try to cook with this vegetable before I understand how to do it? Why is it so hard for me to retain basic facts? Avocado gets brown when it’s left out – DUH. If I put it in the fridge it will only get worse, and these were $1.69 a piece, and I bought them anyways when I don’t really have that money and if it goes to waste then I’ve wasted food and money, which is insane because we can’t afford to do that. Well, I guess I’ll have to eat most of it, even though I’m pretty full…but I’ve been gaining weight and if I eat this will it make me sick? What’s worse, wasting food or just eating it now? I should just eat it now…but what if it makes me sick? Is avocado bad when it’s brown? Maybe I should Google it…
Time elapsed: Another 15 minutes.
Do you see what I mean? All in all, it took me about an hour and a half to dice an avocado and put it on a pizza, eat it, and enjoy it. I didn’t even really taste it because I was so worried about doing it right. But is there even a right way to do such a simple task?
These are called intrusive thoughts, and they have caused me most of my unnecessary grief since I was old enough to feel guilt. This kind of over analyzing has lead to issues in every facet of my life, including my professional and personal relationships. I confuse people by apologizing when no one feels I need to; I thank people profusely for the smallest favor; and most crippling of all, I feel intense guilt for the smallest mistake, which causes me to apologize constantly.
And even now, I am writing an apology post, even though I have nothing to be sorry about. Even this blog that I’ve started, this blog that I started to release my own anxiety, has caused me anxiety! This post isn’t good enough, this needs to be more fleshed out, this is too long, this is too short – it’s not that I don’t want to edit my writing, because that’s the only way improve.
But as usual, my scrutiny of what I post has gone beyond your average consideration.
In a nutshell: My OCD is causing me to panic over the blog I began with the intent to release the panic I feel caused by OCD.
The initial intention of this blog was for me to do research on each subject I wrote about, and to provide links to resources for others. I still intend to do this, but the issue is that I became obsessed with being professional, publishable, the best damn blog for resources anyone could find…but the real point of this blog is for me to vent. As selfish as it sounds, I don’t want to be bogged down by over thinking everything I write. When you bitch about something, you’re not really thinking – you’re just letting loose.
As you have read, I can’t even cut a freakkin’ avocado without freaking out, so I felt it was only fair of me to post this for anyone reading my rambles: I intend to do the best I can with this blog in terms of professionalism, but the truth is, this blog is primarily an outlet for me to vent about coping with OCD. I hope that others who struggle with different kinds of mental illness will read this and feel comforted that there is someone else who overthinks just as much as they do, and that they are not alone. Most of all, I want those who identify with me to know what it took me so long to realize: We are not crazy. We are not wrong. We are not things that need to be fixed. We are people who think differently, and that is nothing to be ashamed of.
“You are battling your mind. You think, “Normal people don’t have these thoughts”. You are afraid of the thought, embarrassed, and you think that the thought predicts something about the future. Maybe the thought means you are dangerous or that you will be punished by God.
Welcome to the world of intrusive thoughts. “
From “Those Damn Unwanted Thoughts!” by Robert L. Leahy, Ph.D
Anxiety Files: Psychology Today: June 1st, 2009.
“How Do Obsessive Compulsive People Think?”