Distraction, punishment and the never-ending duel.
I’ve talked, at length, before about how my obsessive thoughts often result in compulsive actions (which usually involve the cleaning of my home), but after a period of compulsive action, I feel that it would be beneficial for me to delve back into this subject now that I have, I feel, more of an insight into what happens and why it happens.
I’ve read a lot (on the internet) about OCD and other related mental health issues, and I’ve watched a lot of dodgy Channel 4 documentaries about it too, and I’m pretty sure that gives me the authority to say that I do not suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Mental health is a massive spectrum of different diagnosis and symptoms, and obsession and compulsion can make up parts of many different illnesses.
I don’t think that my sister’s friend’s brother-in-law’s dog will die if I don’t clean the sink three times a day, I don’t check and check again light switches, I throw all my clothes on the floor after I’ve worn them. I do not have an infatuation with cleanliness or order, per se, I’m about as clean and tidy as the next twenty-something Pokémon enthusiast.
My cleaning rituals and obsessive organisation tend to fall in to two different, but inherently interlinked categories: Distraction and Punishment.
My mind is a very messy place, like my bedroom floor. Even with the help of mood-altering medication and regular to-do lists, I still find it hard to traverse the forests of thought, memory recall and conversation with humans without stumbling over a few loose branches and tripping myself over. So often, and to so many questions, my answer is ‘I don’t know’. Usually I’m not trying to avoid answering the question, as it can be interpreted, but I really do not have the mental willpower to go through another jaunt through the woods to try and piece together a comprehensive and non-contradictory answer to the question. Writing blog posts is the equivalent of packing a picnic and dropping breadcrumbs through the forest, it takes a long time and a lot of hard work, but it often makes it easier to re-think things in the future.
I still have not found a foolproof way of cutting back the branches and forging a clear path through the various paths of my brain, and sometimes I get to tired to be constantly gardening. In these moments of weakness, it seems a whole a lot easier to just do other things, distract myself from the mess and find a nice, clean space to exist in.
This is where the obsessive organisational bug kicks in. I think ‘gee, my head is far too cloudy to think about anything today, it feels a bit like our untidy kitchen!’ and, instead of tackling what is really important, what do i do? I go and clean the kitchen. I clean the kitchen, and then afterwards, every where else in the house looks like a bomb site compared to the shiny, pristine kitchen. So I do that as well, I clean and clean until ‘everything is done’, and I finally feel that I can relax. The only problem is, when I try and relax, I remember why I started cleaning in the first place, and the cycle starts all over again. (And people wonder why I’m so tired all the time!)
Punishment blossoms from the distraction stage of my problem, an added bonus to go with the primary gift of exhaustion and fuzzy-headedness.
Once I am in the mindset of obsessive organisation, it becomes my number one priority in life, I distract myself into total oblivion. I can’t eat breakfast without making sure the kitchen is completely clean and all the washing up is done. I can’t sit down and watch an episode of House MD in the morning without having my breakfast and cup of tea ready in a clean living room (and this is after the kitchen!). It doesn’t sound like much when it’s written down, in fact, it sounds rather silly, but that’s how my brain is wired at these times.
I can feel the guilt and silliness of my problem, and it only makes it worse. I feel guilty for spending my days not persuing creative or career-based activities, so I punish myself by doing more of things that make me feel that way. Like I said before, it’s all a cycle.
I’m trying my best to balance my life out. I’m trying to be clean, but not compulsive. Organised, but not obsessed. I want to get back to being the person who felt free to do what they wanted without putting so much pressure on themselves. I want to be able to sit down and write a story, draw a picture, make a collage, without first having to make sure everything in the house is clean and in the right place. The only person I have to blame for this affliction is myself, and I guess I’m the only one who can sort it out.
I think I have two options: I either live a completely blank, clean and white space and create things in it, or I learn to control and manage my *feelings*. I think I have an idea about which one is the best option.
PS. During a conversation, I was reminded that people actually READ this blog. So thank you, REALLY, thank you to everyone who reads it or pretends to read it or whatever, it means a lot that I can still write in full sentences. And I promise to you, dear reader, that soon I will turn my attention to subjects that aren’t me, because I know how hard it can be reading about other people whine about their problems. Thanks again babes.