Sunday, October 17, 2010

Busyness As OCD Treatment

When I was in junior high, I was often late for school because despite waking at a reasonable hour, my rituals meant that it generally took longer for me to leave the house than I'd planned for. When I was in high school, I was the same way, although said rituals were even more ED-driven (sit-ups, how I "had" to eat, etc.). In my final year of high school and now, in university, the incidence of my being late due to ritualistic actions has greatly decreased. Yes, there are occasions where the fact that I am weighing my food, or myself, or carrying out semi-ED-related rituals makes me late, but compared to prior years, the incidence is reduced heavily. Why?

My psychiatrist would likely attribute it to the (much despised) Prozac that I take, my doctor to the (similarly despised) increase in weight and general cessation of malnutrition. While I begrudgingly must agree with those reasons to a certain extent, I have my own hypothesis: I no longer have time to indulge my anxiety with these rituals.

Now, I'm not by any means saying that individuals with OCD or eating disorders are indulgent and spoilt, wont to spend their time on meaningless activities for no reason. What I am saying is that, for me, part of decreasing my obsessional tendencies has been to face my anxiety, deny myself the ritual absolving it, and focus on the fact that the things that I want to do are more important than illogical rituals. I am involved in more than I was in junior high or high school, and additionally, my studies now take up more of my time. So should I spend two hours of my day tapping the wall until I've done it "just right" or tying and re-tying my pyjama pants drawstring until it feels "tight enough" (disregarding the fact that I pull so hard on it that it's cut into my skin, frayed, and eventually snapped), or should I spend it at that club meeting that I want to be at and studying for my exam so that I get the grades I'd like? The answer is simple and logical, yet, in the moment where I have to choose to actually stop the ritual and move myself out of the situation, it's not as clear cut. So I remind myself: My life is more important than the irrational quelling of anxiety and fulfillment of my minds illogical rituals. And then I feel anxious. For a while. And until the next challenge, I move on.

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