Tuesday, May 29, 2012

OCD showed up to "help" me move

Moving went... better than I expected. I decided that people helping you move let these people see a little too intimately into your life. As in, they can see some of the forty or more board books I have collected, or the pink castle I bought from the thrift store. Very personal things. Or rather, things I am sensitive to criticism about. The books might be okay; even I agree I have too many. The pink castle and the other toys? Well, my "conscience" and I have wrestled over this (not sure if it's my real or my fake conscience), but these things represent hope and dreams about the future, about me being a speech therapist or an early childhood teacher some day. So that is why I keep them.

Cleaning after the moving, that isn't going so well. Somehow, I managed to sign the lease for the new place without a big OCD showdown (yet). A few small ones cropping up, but no disasters (yet). But getting the old apartment cleaned up? There's a list. A move out policy. It says things like "wash the walls." If I don't wash every wall, every square foot (an inch here or there might be okay, but I'd better scrub that tiny spot there until it comes all the way off!!!), I will have sinned. See? That's why my exposure talk isn't working. I just figured it out now.

I was going for the money arguement. I wanted it clean enough not to loose any unnecessary deposit money. So the logical question and response was to ask myself, "What is the worst that could happen?" The answer; you won't get all your deposit money back. Let me assure you, the deposit money is looking less and less valuable the longer I clean, the worse my mood gets, and the more my wrists complain. So now what?

I think it's the "sin" issue. That still isn't logical, but then again, when is OCD limited by logic?

So I must wipe down the walls. If I don't, something terrible will happen (OCD's famous signature in my life; vague but sure doom). And I must scrub this, and I must clean that to perfection. And let me let all of you without OCD in on a little secret. No job can ever be done to perfection unless God is doing it all and I am not at all involved. Such a pity. So I know this and I'm aware of this and I dislike dislike dislike this (three times over). But how to stop? Where do you draw the line between good enough and not good enough? Where??????? Between three and four inches? Do you mean between 3.5 and 4 inches? Do you mean between 3.75 and 4 inches? Oh, but do you mean between 3.9999999999 and 4 inches? Oh, but I can't get it that accurate. It might even be 4.000001 inches, which is clearly not between 3 and 4 inches. Let's just watch this anxiety make my mood worse and worse without it helping anything. Meanwhile, let's watch how the rag I'm using to clean is leaving lint on the wall. And see where the wall looks dirtier than yesterday? Did the people picking up leftovers for the thrift store really scrape the wall right there? And what's more depressing than redoing an unfinishable task while more rooms wait for my magic cleaning skills... besides getting a call from the doctor's office about a biopsy I was supposed to have had fifteen minutes ago.

So I hoped if I wrote about it, I could solve the problem, but guess what? OCD doesn't like to be solved. I'm stuck. Exposure, here I come. Somehow, it feels more like, battle-with-guarenteed-victory-given-to-OCD, here I come. Yay for depression and anxiety.

And, since that clearly isn't enough to deal with at one time, how about remembering how you couldn't wake up this morning? How, when you finally woke up to your boss's call this morning, the cell phone (carrying my second and third wake up alarms) lay untouched on the couch where you set it the night before. Sleeping through alarms has risen to a new level, the level of not even bothering to turn the alarm off! Well, my dream was exciting. Somebody was saving someone else (a child) from being trampled by a horse. Kind of distracting from wake-up alarms.

Well, I'd better go. Eventually time might trump the OCD cleaning issues. The ones that (mostly) aren't even about germs. What harm could possibly come from a spot on the wall? But then, each spot adds up. There are probably a hundred spots on the wall that no-one but me will ever know about. I won't even know about them, because I've run out of brain space for even hearing alarm clocks.

No, I'm going to watch a recital. That should be fun. There is plenty of time to argue with my OCD tomorrow (don't have to be done with the apartment 'til the end of the month).


  1. Oh I totally get the where do you draw the line question. OCD can be torture to live. I feel really badly for you because I know what you're going through with the cleaning and anxiety and questions of sin etc. Hang in there.

  2. Abigail, I'm sorry the OCD showed up to "help." I can relate, believe me. Trying to parse the lines between sin and not-sin, clean enough and not-clean is torture. You can get through this.

  3. Abigail, My husband was in the military and we relocated roughly every 2 years due to his assignments..I so know what you are dealing with. For me, it was alittle different, I was able to relax once I knew we were moving out and it was about the only time I felt I enjoyed my home..I freaked out more about the new place and getting it clean and ready for us.It is mentally and physically exhausting. I love that you went to watch a recital, so nice that you could walk away and enjoy some time doing something else. I need to do that more often.