I’ve noticed something about myself. I’m obsessive. Like, a lot.
Earlier today, someone bought two of Granny Smith’s old quilts on etsy. That’s great, right? Yeah… until I noticed that they’re yellowing with age or from dye transfer.
Several hours have passed. I’ve researched the problem thoroughly, contacted the buyer, and attacked one quilt with hydrogen peroxide, bleach, and stain stick.
The quilt is drying out now, and we’re hoping for the best.
Whenever something comes up, I launch onto the issue with the power of a thousand suns and don’t rest until I’ve fixed it. During this time, it becomes difficult for me to follow my usual safety measures, so it’s bad if this involves my driving anywhere.
Recently, I spent an entire 24-hour period freaking out over the mask issue. This issue started when I went to the gym one evening and discovered that they require masks while exercising (as opposed to while coming, going, or walking across the gym).
I went home and fell into a tizzy. How could I exercise? I should cancel my gym membership. I emailed the gym, but they didn’t respond.
I could get a mesh mask! I made a beeline for Amazon and researched them. They all looked too meshy to be passable, and I didn’t want anyone to yell at me.
Hmm… I could buy my own treadmill! I scoured the local listings on social media and contacted several sellers.
I could exercise outside, like on my bike! Nah, too cold this time of year.
I could design my very own model of breathable mask! Why, I’d just take a basic mask and stick a Dixie cup with the bottom cut off into it, and then I’d have an air pocket for breathing.
At this point, it was the same time the next day. I’d literally spent the past 24 hours obsessing over this one ridiculous issue. At one point, I wondered if I was overthinking it. (Gee, ya think?) But I dismissed that thought and kept at it, hellbent on success. It finally came together, and off I went to the gym, where I was able to breathe well enough to do my treadmill routine. Problem solved! I congratulated myself on spending 24 hours in a state of extreme mental focus. But good grief.
It’s like, give me a problem and I’ll research and research and turn over options and consider throwing money at it and attack it from every conceivable angle!
This is my pure-O from OCD (obsessions without compulsions) run amok.
The good news is that I can solve any problem life throws at me, so there’s that.
The bad news is that I cannot rest until the problem has been solved. Is that weird?
I read in an online article that referenced a study that people with OCD have aggravated obsessions in wintertime. I’ve always known that winter makes my OCD worse. Instead of becoming seasonally depressed, I get seasonally irrational. And reading that about obsessions getting worse made me wonder if the issue with my pure-O is that I have no compulsions to make the obsessions all okay. For most people, the compulsions work to counterbalance or mollify the obsessions, but I’m not compulsive. I never redo stuff or check stuff or keep touching stuff or keep washing my hands, etc., etc.
This must be why I become irrational. My obsessions have no natural outlet. So my brain’s just like, Ahhhhh!!!! Help me!!! You know, because it’s trapped inside my head. (That doesn’t make sense, but I’m just going to run with it.)
I probably got my obsessiveness from my mother. She’s… sort of an intense person, I guess you could say. (I can hear my loyal followers wondering if that’s a bit of an understatement. It is.)
Actually, that’s an interesting possibility. My mom’s mental condition has never been diagnosed, and it would take a genius of a psychiatrist to get it right. I might be able to get it right, though, just because I’ve known her my whole life. This is what happens with her: she’s bipolar, but not in the traditional mania –> depressed –> mania sense. Those aren’t her poles.
Her poles are happy, giddy even. That pole’s fine. We love that pole. When she’s happy, we’re happy.
Her other pole is anxious, but maybe it’s not just anxiety. Maybe she becomes obsessive in this pole. I’ve never considered that, but it makes a lot of sense. She becomes painfully preoccupied with stuff that she feels the need to control, like, What if my adult kids get the coronavirus? or, Why won’t my ex-husband quit eating out during the pandemic? Those seem like normal thoughts, and maybe they are, but my mom just latches onto a million thoughts like those and doesn’t let go for dear life.
I called her a few days ago and told her I didn’t feel well. She gasped and asked what was wrong. “I’m on my period,” I said.
She exhaled. “Ohhh, thank God. I feared it was the coronavirus. I worry about you!”
And this isn’t about the coronavirus. She’s always worried. But now I’m starting to wonder if there’s an element of compulsiveness about her worrying that would make it not just anxiety but also OCD.
Because she’ll get, like, all worked up over something that anyone else would handle like, “Oh, forget about it already.” She reminds me of a pit bull who bites you and then refuses to let go. I’m not trying to liken my mom to an attack dog, but it’s the concept of how she grips her anxious topics and can’t let them go. What if this, what if that? I always worry.
So there’s little doubt in my mind that I picked up her obsessive tendencies myself, but I’ve never thought it through so closely before now, about how her obsessiveness manifests.
If I’m right that she’s bipolar in a happy/giddy to anxious and obsessive way, that’s not in the DSM. But let’s remember that the DSM tries to describe common mental-illness experiences for ease of categorization and treatment. But, wow, my mom breaks the crazy mold. (I say this in the most loving way possible.)
I hate obsessing, but I can’t let something go until I’ve found a solution. It’s frustrating. I have no ability to put an issue on the shelf and focus elsewhere, like if I had to go to work, for example. My mind would be absent, trying to solve the problem.
I have a light box coming in the mail. I read some studies online that light boxes might help with OCD, and since my pure O gets aggravated by winter, and light boxes treat SAD, I’m thinking there could be benefits to my using one.