Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Everything In Its Right Place

Yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon
Yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon
Yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon
Yesterday I woke up sucking a lemon

Everything, everything, everything
In its right place
In its right place
Right place

Here I am, sitting importantly at my semi-tidy desk, eating peanut butter out of a jar with a spoon, and Haribo cola bottles out of a bag. Awoke to my furiously eager OCD, jumping up and down in my mind for attention like a small dog when it's owner arrives home

[You up? Great! Much to do...let's see first you can]

("Okay, if I do this, if I just do this...will you go away for a while?") 

and rather than do what normal people do at 8 am, such as shower, eat, get dressed...I found myself making the bed, cleaning a computer screen to precision, climbing a ladder to hang flystrips, dusting the house, moving furniture, removing white cat fur from the black couch, wiping the bathroom sink squeaky clean, hanging clothing in the closet...for three hours until I allowed myself a cup of coffee.

Now it is too much too late for breakfast. One indication of this would be that the (at-first frightening, now comforting) "Noon Siren" has just wistfully whined through town, reaching my ears from somewhere in the heart of McCamey.

Now, I don't feel like finishing the dishes, running a load or laundry, taking a shower. Cooking or even eating, for that matter. Damn body, why are you SO demanding, when people go for days without eating in the Sudan?! You are seriously cramping my ability to play Words With Friends or catch up on important things, such as the hottest meme on Facebook. I don't feel like addressing you OR the relentless picky parade of adult-y tasks my OCD is striving to assign me, thankyouverymuch.

[but if you build that rack in the livingroom, you can shelve those towels in the bedroom and then you can finally hang the clock in the bathroom, then you can]

There is still much to unpack, a pile of boxes looms accusingly behind me like Jenga, the Procrastination version from Parker Brothers. Three weeks since I arrived and still I am sliding, shifting, rearranging boxes to get to what I need. Remember those travel games? Flat trays with plastic sliding squares, that when arranged in order, became: a picture of a tiger, the numbers one thru 24, I was never so good at those as I am now, in this room I am beginning to worry I will never be able to call a "studio".

[organize the toiletries in the bathroom...you really should clean that tub today, you know, then you can]

I DO however, have pants on, not pajamas, should anyone knock on my door I won't look lazy. Pants are a symbol of being productive, right? And productive equals happy, yes? This is the way I justify things in my head, to my evil brain.

I knew there was something broken up there long ago, when I was a child I would set up challenges to meet before I could allow myself do anything else, telling myself something bad would happen should I not be successful in my little "missions" . When interrupted or prevented from completing a project I would get frustrated, and things had to be done just right, arranged just so. I thrived on, even enjoyed repetitive tasks, especially if it involved putting items in sequence or alphabetizing. There was a place for everything. I knew I would feel better once everything was in its right place. As I reached adolescence, this extended to my personal appearance, fastidious hours were spent on grooming. I couldn't pass my reflection without checking it. It wasn't vanity so much as The Fear.

Not following these urges and prompts created anxiety, a sense of not being "prepared" (for whatever might befall me), and even depression. If I felt I couldn't do it the right way, or my best wasn't good enough, I would procrastinate, rearranging priorities to create a path around whatever it was until perhaps I wouldn't have to do it at all.

After years of being on the Honor Roll, I suffered in my 12th year of education an extended illness that resulted in three months absence. I felt this lapse prevented me from "ever catching up". Rather than asking for help, so that I might earn C's or perhaps even a B Average, I decided there was no point in even trying. After teaching myself to read at the age of 3 and having been singled out for GATE (Gifted and Talented Education) at 11 years old, I almost didn't graduate from High School. It wasn't laziness, so much as The Fear.

To me, Radiohead's song Everything In Its Right Place, describes perfectly what it is like to live with OCD. It is not only a relentless voice, it is a repetitive motion, a never-ending rocking, feeding, changing of the baby, lest it whine. OCD has become synonymous for over-the-top behavior ("that is so OCD") and the affliction is often joked about in public ("and then it set my OCD off"), but for those who suffer from it, it is far from funny.

[finish the dishes, and after you finish that, you will still have the time to move the boxes, so that you can move that shelf in the office, and finally put away those alphabetized boxes of books, then you can]

I am 41 years old. I own a car, a washer and dryer and have been married for over 13 years, but despite these and other indications of adulthood, my friends still call me Woo and I don't discourage it. Woo is still hungry after grazing on peanut butter and candy, typing madly so that she doesn't have to look at the sink full of dishes, the metal étagère in pieces on the livingroom floor, turn to see Jenga boxes filling the room behind her office chair.

[Earth to "Woo"...hello? You know, if you cook... feed yourself some proper food, then you'll be able to get back to]

I'm sorry OCD, I can't hear you over this Industrial Music, and the growling of my stomach. I really can't. But there it is, the voice in my head, reminding me that any task should be completed properly... and having moved on from nagging me about the house, it has decided the newest goal is the writing of this post. Perfectly, of course. This post, which I have now read and re-read, tweaked several times, amended, read again.


("Please stop. I'm finished, see?")

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