Saturday, September 28, 2013

An unseen illness

Well, to continue a train of thought started at 71 and Sunny's blog, lots of my OCD has been, well, invisible. Every now and then, I'd spout off an imitation of my brain's on-going monologue, and either be regarded as worrying about stupid things or be regarded with a bit more respect. My brain jumped topics pretty well, too. I'm not sure if that is typical with OCD, but it usually was with mine. Like while driving.

"I wonder if I offended so-and-so last night in our conversation. Oops, I went over a bump. Was it a bump, or a person? Check mirror. Looks like nothing, but maybe there was a person lying in the depression in the road. Well, probably not too realistic. But wait; I wasn't paying attention for the last moment. Better check the mirror again. Rats, checking the mirror meant I didn't pay perfect attention in front of me. Quick, check it again. No, don't look that long, now you have to look again. This is not going to work. Look further ahead, look behind. Look further ahead, look behind. Some people drive around the block to check the road. I don't want to do that. If I did, well, when would I stop? Check the mirror. And that conversation last night, what did I say again? Maybe I was too sarcastic. Did she understand I was being sarcastic? Check mirror, look ahead, check mirror. Maybe if I had worded it differently. Check mirror. Is the car behind me a police car? Check speed, check mirror, look ahead, check mirror. Well, as long as there's a car behind me, and they stay behind me, that should mean that I didn't run over a person. Because if I did, they would notice, and they would stop. I wonder if I should talk my friend again on Sunday. Just broach the subject, test if she's offended or not. Hmmm, will I be able to do that before church, before the Lord's Supper? If I don't get to it until after, should I not partake in the Lord's Supper? That verse about fixing things with your brother before you give an offering, just how does it apply to the Lord's Supper? Check the mirror. That car is completely gone. Empty road behind me. Wow, what kind of lousy attention am I giving this? I don't know when the car turned off. I should pay better attention. Look ahead, check mirrors, look ahead, check mirrors, feel for and push button for radio, check mirror more carefully to make sure I didn't run into anything."

Well, that is a fictitious example. What I might have done 3 and a half years ago. When my drive to work was maybe 45 minutes one way. That sure added up for time spent obsessing or compulsing. And when I'd detail my thoughts like that (such an example could also be dreamed up while driving - I was a daydreamer, spending lots of time imagining conversations and things I could write and such), I could see, no wonder I was having a little trouble.

I didn't know until I was in the hospital that such run-on thoughts might be considered racing thoughts. How exhausting to have had racing thoughts, and I didn't even known it.

But guess what. My brain is quieter now. Not that it never jumps into action over an anxious thought or two, but it isn't usually consumed with solving problems. Now, an OCD exposure might take 3 minutes, and then I'll forget about it until it comes up again. Actually, that happened with accidental exposures before. The difference being, in the past, I usually forgot one OCD issue while stumbling into the next. Now I might forget one to move onto... living. Trying to provide Indirect Language Stimulation for my toddlers (that's a fancy phrase I got to learn from my college classes), playing peekaboo, without the sinking feeling in the back of my mind and stomach that I may have done something terrible, but I was going to try not to think about it for the moment. Yup, increased health. Even if my mind did decide to bring up my worst obsession recently. There is still improvement, like in how I handle it.

But I was supposed to be writing about an unseen illness. So I guess I did. Most of the thinking I've described would be invisible. If not all of it. And believe me, I'd try to put a smile on top for the kids I worked with at the time. And the adults. Thankfully, now the smile is usually hiding less.

10 comments:

  1. This is a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing it.

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  2. Oh wow, Abigail. I LOVE this post. Soooooo accurately describes OCD & the racing thoughts. Honestly, you could have been describing a day in my life when things were really bad. I'm so glad you are doing better.

    I especially love the line where you talk about stumbling from one OCD anxiety to another, only now, because you're better you stumble from an OCD thought to just living. Again, you describe me. Thanks so much for sharing.

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    1. Thanks, Sunny. It's funny, even though I know how much I benefited from getting treatment, somehow I still downplay to myself how bad it was. I'm surprised that your experience was so similar. I wasn't as alone as I thought (well, after finding out that "normal" people didn't think that way). Thanks for sharing. And I'm so glad we are both doing better.

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  3. Great post, Abigail....so glad life is not like that for you anymore. I'm exhausted just reading it; I can't imagine living it! Thanks for sharing.

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  4. Wonderful post, Abigail! You described the racing OCD thoughts perfectly--I can't tell you how many times I've had a thought process like that. Thankfully, it's not nearly as bad for me either. It was exhausting, wasn't it?

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    1. Thanks, Tina! Definitely tiring, though I didn't know any different.

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  5. I LOVE this post Abigail! My OCD is the exact same way with the racing thoughts, the crazy unreal scenarios, worrying about who I offended, or "did I say the wrong thing," if I did something the "wrong way," etc. I usually did the same thing on my drive to and from work...it's crazy what happens when your mind goes into "autopilot," like driving to work everyday. I'm doing better now too and trying to remember to enjoy life and have fun :) I started a blog about my life with OCD too :) Thanks for the inspiration and validation of everything that has been my life. I hope you are having a good weekend. ~Holly

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    1. Wow, apparently my racing OCD thoughts jumping around weren't so uncommon for OCD. Good to know.

      Thanks for your encouragement for my writing! I'm glad you are doing better, too.

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