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For further information about Anxiety and OCD, please see the links at the end of this article.
Anxiety Plus OCD: Parasites of the Mind
My OCD manifests itself mentally rather than physically. What I mean by this is that I don't need to wash my hands a million times or check that my flat iron is off a million times, (2 or 3 times will suffice), but rather I have to repeat thoughts in my mind, do strange things with numbers, perseverate on worrisome thoughts until I'm so exhausted I feel like I'm going to pass out. Often I do; I tire myself so much mentally that I just need to fall asleep. In my irrational mind, I believe that I can control things by thinking a certain way or having ritualistic, repetitive thoughts. I believe that I can make bad things not happen by counting a certain way, concentrating a certain way, praying a certain way. I believe I can make bad things not happen by simply worrying about them. I worry that if I don't worry, then something bad will happen. Fucked up, right? I know it, but unfortunately I have this belief embedded in me like a fucking parasite, and it's hard to get rid of.
Rationally, I know I can't control everything. Rationally, I know I shouldn't worry about everything, and I should live in the present. Rationally, I know that my thoughts aren't responsible for the occurrences in the world. Rationally, I know that the more I participate in these ritualistic, repetitive thoughts, the worse my anxiety gets. Rationally, I know that the OCD provokes the anxiety, and the anxiety provokes the OCD.
Why is it so hard then to live in the rational world? Why can't I calm my thoughts? I mean, I seriously don't even want to write down the things I fear happening because I fear that by writing them, they will happen. Again, I know this is untrue. However, what does confuse me is the ideology that positive thinking leads to positive occurrences, that our thoughts go out into the universe and can make things happen. There's the hopeful, idealist part of me that likes believing this, and then there's the anxiety-ridden part of me that freaks out about it. I worry that if it's true, and I think something negative, that that negative thing will happen. I am very confused about this philosophy, and I actually work myself up into a frenzy about it. I want to be able to think the thoughts I have and feel the emotions I feel without worrying about negative and real repercussions. I become so overwhelmingly concerned about the possibility of negative repercussions that I feel like I'm going to hyperventilate. I then revert back to obsessive compulsive tendencies to try to "control" the situation, and these tendencies are capable of making me shut down completely. They're capable of making me feel so lost, dark, and small...so out of control.
I so badly want to feel in control of my mind again. I know I can't control the world, and even though I think I can by giving in to my OCD, it is simply untrue. Instead, I need to focus on controlling my mind. I need to regain the calm and focus inside so that I don't easily become swayed by the sick lure of my obsessions and compulsions. Once I give in, it's so easy to follow the trail of thoughts that quickly spur into elevated anxiety. This battle is analogous to escaping a dysfunctional relationship, except that my relationship is the one between me and my own thoughts.
Maria (Twitter: @MariaCMeow) is a mental health blogger.
She regularly posts on her blog at Head Above Water: Life with Mood Disorders.
The above blog has been reproduced with her express permission and can be found here: Anxiety Plus OCD: Parasites of the Mind.
Further Information on Anxiety and OCD
Detailed information about Anxiety, and the various types of anxiety.
Detailed information about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and the various types of OCD.