Tuesday, September 4, 2012

All Joking Aside

You know how when you’re brushing your teeth in front of your bathroom mirror, and for a split second you notice how lovely you look and lean closer for a better look? Then BAM---toothbrush slams against the mirror and jams down the back of your throat.

OCD can be a lot like this common occurrence.  My day will be going along smoothly, beautifully even, and then out of nowhere, I’m sucker punched.

Perhaps one of the most challenging elements of this disorder is its inability to appear rational to those not suffering from it. Typical conversation with one of my OCD sponsors (Callie, Liz, Andrea, mom, Google, Matt, Jess, Walgreen’s pharmacist), “I forgot I had already taken my Flintstone Vitamin this morning so I took another by mistake. Am I looking at any possible overdose complications?”
You think I’m joking.

I was quite proud of the progress I’d been making these past couple weeks (hence the lack of blogging) until I went and did something astronomically stupid:
I got a haircut.

The issue with my hair is not its new style---I quite like it, actually. The problem is that in order to put it in a tidy ponytail, I must use bobby pins to secure the shorter pieces. In my cluttered, claustrophobic brain that I often times despise, bobby pins equal one thing: choking hazard.

In order for my obsessions to complete the OCD cycle, I must answer them with a compulsion (obsessive compulsive disorder).  In this case, I decided to act as a surgeon who counts all of his tools after surgery to ensure none remain in the abdominal cavity.

Every evening, I remove the bobby pins and place them back on their designated sheet of paper. By doing this, I convince my ridiculous mind that none have fallen on the ground or in Amelia's crib.
I know you are wondering why I am sharing this craziness with you---why I can't just keep these nonsensical notions to myself. Some with OCD require privacy; they carry around a sense of shame and guilt. I, being much too vain to carry these with me, would rather make my enemy known. 
I have loved so deeply in my life that hate should be quite unfamiliar to me. Between my friends, husband, Amelia, and Britney Spears, I should only understand adoration, yet my OCD has educated me in contempt. I hate all that it has taken from me and all it has yet to take.
Instead of enjoying a healthy pregnancy and reveling in a new life growing inside of me, I spent every day of those nine months in my own internal hell. Instead of delighting in this new phase of Amelia's life where she's crawling and taking her first steps, I live in terror that she will fracture her skull and end up with a subdural hematoma. I have spent hours googling brain bleeds and even more hours creating a bubble around my daughter to safeguard her from every bump and fall she may encounter. The sane part of me knows I should be letting her explore her newfound world, but my OCD has taken that away from her, too.    
Before finishing this blog post, an internet pop-up ad appeared on my screen. "What would you like to be today?" it asked.
               At peace...I would like to be at peace. 


  1. "I, being much too vain to carry these with me, would rather make my enemy known."

    Well said Stef, I'm trying it myself. Whether it be to try and laugh it off or just think through it.

  2. My therapist would remind me that OCD wants a certainty that no human gets, a 100 percent assurance that nothing will ever happen to your daughter. And OCD will drive you crazy trying to extract that certainty. I have had a lifetime of health obsessions, and the irony is that some health symptoms don't even phase me, only the ones I am sensitized to. OCD is very selective in what to have certainty about--and sends us on an impossible quest.

  3. I know the feeling of feeling something that is completely out of your control and everyone thinks you are ridiculous. It sucks, but you truly make the best of it- better than I ever have and that is so commendable.

    I just hope you aren't hard on yourself. It is what it is you know?

  4. HI Stefanie. It was lovely to meet you today at GEMS. I am loving your blog. I am so sorry to hear you suffer from OCD and that it torments you in this way. I don't have OCD but I am a touch intense and neurotic so I can imagine your pain. xxxx