I don’t wash my hands three times. I don’t fix slightly tilted portraits. One green m&m in a jar of red m&m’s doesn’t bother me (it bothers me when it’s in a jar of red Skittles).
What I do is think. I doubt things I just did. I could have literally done something a second ago, then directly afterward I obsess about some aspect of it.
I doubt the smallest things. Trivial things. Irrational. Illogical. Improbable. Sometimes impossible.
The thoughts aren’t my creation. They intrude. I have no control over these intrusive thoughts and that is the main reason I used to live in fear. I never knew when they’ll come and how strong they will be.
The thought enslaves you. If I don’t comply with it, it will take my brain hostage. It is easy to say just don’t think about it, however doing it is the hardest thing I had to do in my life. It stays in the background. I feel that feeling one gets when he goes into a room to do something but suddenly forgets what he wanted to do. That guy may find it easy to get rid of it or say “meh, it doesn’t matter”. I, however, would stand paralyzed by the door thinking of what I was about to do. Okay, the previous example isn’t to be taken literally, but metaphorically, and I feel so sophisticated and intelligent for coming up with such a deep example (pats self on shoulder).
But the thought process I go through is abnormal. I can say that even if I don’t have a way to tell what is actually a normal level to compare it to. I am really, really, really aware of how silly and stupid what I’m thinking of is. But rational thought and consciousness don’t help much; they just make you aware and sad for facing a situation out of your control.
Like a bolt of lightning it hits, out of nowhere (sweet, another deep sophisticated illustration, I think I should write a book about examples). What happens next is one of two things. I either do what the thought pushes me towards doing in order to calm down the anxiety and panic. This is the compulsive part. You do it and then you start feeling better. But once you comply, it ruins you. You get addicted to the feeling you get afterwards. You start complying with every obsession. You find yourself wasting time just to calm yourself down. It takes over your life.
The second thing is equally as hard and frustrating. You leave it be, put it aside. Try to think of other stuff. Good luck. It will creep back in. Shove it aside again and again and again. You feel paralyzed, not able to do anything else even though you are not consciously thinking of it. It is still in the back of your head. You can feel it. Your heart starts beating like Chris Brown when he sees Rihanna (side note: domestic violence is really frowned upon by me. I don’t like when my girlfriend beats me up). You start hyperventilating. You feel heaviness on your chest, akin to having sexual intercourse with a heavy woman who’s on top. That is a panic/anxiety attack (at least that is the extent of it which happens to me, there are other symptoms). You feel everything around you closing in on you. You lose joy in anything and everything. Food becomes something you want to swallow and finish quickly because you are preoccupied. Getting out of the bed is one of the hardest things to do. You feel paralyzed. You become easily irritated when someone speaks to you or even gets in your way. Hell you get irritated by people walking on the sidewalk.
The first one leads to comfort in the short run and obsessive behavior taking over your life in the long run. The second leads to a panic attack in the short run. However the second is the better approach. Although it is really difficult (I swear it is the most difficult thing I had to do, more difficult than getting a teenager to use proper grammar). Once you get over the panic attack, it will be much easier the second time you face the obsession and stand up to it. Eventually (and by eventually I mean a good amount of time and hard work) you will be able to manipulate your mind and control your thoughts (that’s the topic of another blog).
That was a piece of my mind, wishing a peace of mind to you all.
“more difficult than getting Rawan to use proper English words”.
And there is nothing wrong with fixing slightly tilted portraits. I don’t have OCD. And I also don’t shake my head all the time.
I love what you wrote and how conscious you are of your problem. It is good from you to share what you are going through with people having the same symptoms. Does humour ease things up for you?
First of all, I loved this post. It defines what a panic attack is all about, and it tells you about the two options that the person has whilst in the attack. It also is very funny (as expected) at certain points, like when you patted yourself on the back, and like the metaphor – I sure do hope that it was a metaphor and it is not actually out of experience (or else it would be just creepy instead of funny) – about the heavy woman on top.
I like (and can not accept anything besides) even numbers, and the volume on the car radio or the television has to always be in even digits. The only exception to the rule is for multiples of five. That would also be acceptable.
So proud of you. What a refreshingly honest blog. One to keep an eye on…pun intended 😉 💗