As I’ve written before, OCD is frequently portrayed in the media as an annoying, often endearing, ultimately benign personality quirk. My experience does not bear this out. The unwanted thoughts permeate my brain to the point of obsession. I am overwhelmed with a belief that if I perform some action, it will make my anxiety about the obsession disappear.
During periods of high stress, my OCD becomes worse. Despite the chaos going on in the world at the moment, I have managed to maintain life in a fairly confined bubble. Limiting my use of social media, deleting the news apps on my phone, and distancing myself from symbols of other stressors is helping me to put more distance between me and my last major incident of OCD. As I stretch the time between events–defined as periods in which unwanted thoughts and their accompanying compulsive actions disrupt the activities of my daily life–I build up resilience and find more ways of coping when I realize the obsessions and compulsions are manifesting themselves.
Although I am proud of my progress, I am also nervous that my recovery is closely tied to the elimination of external stressors. There comes a point at which I will need to start adding back some of these stressors, because I cannot survive in a bubble forever. I’m nervous about breaking containment. Given my tendency to immerse and overexert myself, this fear is real. However, as I am learning, I have the capability and the capacity to modulate and regulate.
Just as with the new goldfish from the pet store, I have to acclimate to the water in the tank before I open the bag and swim off. I’ve never had much patience for floating in stasis, but I am getting better.