Thursday, January 19, 2012

No more magical thinking, dammit!

Okay, first of all, I feel pretty stupid blogging about this, but then again, I don't think you guys come here expecting to find a Rhodes scholar pontificating, so here we go.

Hello. My name is Rocky, and I have OCD - Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

At least, I think I do. I've never actually been diagnosed, but I'm pretty sure that if you think you have to tap the toaster - with all five fingers of your right hand simultaneously - sixteen times exactly to prevent something awful from happening, you've got OCD.

Sometimes it gets worse, and sometimes it's better. When I'm under a lot of stress, it can get pretty bad. But I cope.

But it can get tiring, thinking that you have to open and close the shampoo bottle a certain number of times or else something bad will happen.

And the "something bad" in the OCD scenario was almost always something involving The Runt and Little Girl. As much as I tried to tell myself that it was ridiculous, that it was just some short-circuit in my brain wiring, that there was NO WAY that something bad would happen to the cats if I didn't open the fridge X number of times, I still kept doing it. Better safe than sorry!

And then two things happened. One, I heard the phrase "magical thinking" used to describe this kind of behavior. And to me, the term "magical" evokes unicorns and fairies and other things that DO NOT EXIST. And whenever the OCD would kick in (pat the side of the couch eight times. Now eight more times. Now eight more times ... ) I would say to myself, "Cut out the magical thinking, already." and it helped.

And then the second thing happened. The Runt and Little Girl died. Yep, the worst thing happened. The thing that all that stupid, ridiculous OCD crap was supposed to prevent ... happened. And I was just as sure as I've ever been sure of anything in my life that it was not my failure to shut the front door five times on some random morning that caused their deaths. They died. Of heart disease. A congenital medical condition that was NOT CAUSED by my slipping up and forgetting the check the hall light twenty times one night before I went to bed.

And the OCD got better. Better than it's been in YEARS. The relief of finally, truly BELIEVING that I could not stop disaster by stepping on each porch step two times was incredible.

Am I cured? Naw. Every once in a while, I catch myself thinking, "If I just shut the bathroom medicine cabinet four times, I won't get into an accident on the slippery roads this morning", and then I tell myself, "This is ridiculous. STOP with the magical thinking, already", and I'm able to rein myself in.

Baby steps, peeps. I've been doing this behavior since I was in junior high, and it's not going to go away overnight. But I am taking baby steps.

There. I fessed up. I feel better now.


Badass Nature Girl said...

I believe that every one of us is in OCD in some way, and to different degrees.

This sounds similar to a recent story I read about with 12 teenagers getting sick with the same symptoms that mimicked Tourette's and they were all under a lot of stress.

My husband does certain OCD things: checks that the stove top burners are off....once.. and then again...some times I third time just for good measure. Lights switches, front door locked, etc.

I find the little things I do kick in more when my hormones are whacked and my memory gets really, really bad. It freaked me out one time when I walked away and left the stove burner going and I don't even remember turning it ON.

I had my boots on yesterday, my arms loaded with three or bags, heading out the door...and then I wondered if I had turned on the burners at all? I couldn't remember, so I peeked around the corner. I couldn't quite see the stove top and stepped on to the floor, but not too much because shoes we wear in public carry germs.....and did that twice before I was confident that they were off and my house wouldn't burn down.

Birdie said...

I think it is awesome that you were able to cure yourself. :-)

rockygrace said...

Ha, BNG, checking the burners once or twice to make sure they're off is normal. Self-preservation. Let's not burn down the house and all that. Checking nine or ten times is ... quirky. Patting the toaster sixteen times to prevent disaster is BATSHIT CRAZY, which is where I've been. Heh.

and Birdie, thanks for the kind words. I don't know if I'm "cured" - heck, I don't know if there IS a cure for being nuts - but I'm getting better.

Zazzu said...

I'm sorry about your sweet kitties. No matter how much time passes, we still really miss them when they're gone, don't we?

I like that you helped yourself by using Dr. Phil's technique w/out having to deal with him directly.

My understanding is that you can treat OCD but not cure it. (?)

Rob said...

Did that when I was a kid. Don't do it NEAR as much now, but you never really get over it. You're normal.

Domestic Kate said...

Thanks for posting this. I have my own issues, but over time, my magical thinking has gotten better too. It's superstitious behavior--we equate something that's coincidence with cause-and-effect.

I also wanted to say that I dreamed about Little Girl and The Runt last night! They were kittens. They were fine. I recognized them right away and I was happy to see them.

Becs said...

Call it magical thinking, but it is OCD. It's great that you've found a way to ease this. Medication worked for me.

When I'm stressed, I'll be on my way to work and think, oh no, did I turn off the coffee pot? At least I've gotten to the point where I make myself keep driving.

20 years ago, I was often late for work because I had to go home to make sure I'd not just turned off but unplugged the iron.

rockygrace said...

Well, at least I know now that I'm not alone. Ha.

Zazzu, I was using a Dr. Phil technique? Ewww. :)

I'm glad to know I'm not alone, here. And Kate, it is SO COOL that you dreamt of The Runt and Little Girl. That is awesome.

~~Silk said...

Amazing that you could control it. Yeah, it's probably still there, the urge, but be proud that you have taken control of it.

Is there something that's the exact opposite of OCD? If there is, I've got it. I can't even form ordinary habits. Literally. I practically need to-do lists to brush my teeth and comb my hair and eat a breakfast in the morning.