OCD Stole My Attention
Why you should manage your attention rather than your time
After years of progressively worsening OCD manifesting in a deluge of interfering thoughts the storm has slowed to a drizzle. Today I manage the OCD in the background almost like a normal person, aware of my thought meta, but not consistently absorbed by it. I am tremendously grateful to be where I am today in my journey. I’m also singularly aware with a calm mind and the clarity of hindsight that OCD robbed me of years of memories.
In my case, my thoughts were my obsession. My mind functioned like a broken sieve. As sensory information flooded into my brain like a landslide I turned over every pebble checking for stuff to remember. I couldn’t let any tidbit of important information submit itself to the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve. The felt like Michael Scofield from Prison Break suffering from a form of low latent inhibition, except in my case it wasn’t a super power. Constantly trying to remember every thought that went through my mind was torture. And, God forbid I forget something or think I forgot something. That’s when the real spiraling began—I would forget something and then spend the rest of my day sifting through my thoughts like a pan handler from ‘49 desperately seeking that golden nugget. I would ruthlessly step through my thoughts from the moment just before I forgot the thing in an attempt to recreate the inception point in my mind. I did this repeatedly until I convinced myself that I found it. The gold analogy continues. It wasn’t imperative that I remember the thing, it was just important that I believe that it was the thing, like fool’s gold is to gold. What an irrational thing to do. The thing is I knew it was irrational, but it was the only thing that would relieve my anxiety.
After seeking help and working through a long slog back to normalcy (i.e. an anxiety-neutral state)I look back both with gratitude, but also with sadness. My sadness is triggered by my lack of memories for the darkest times in the depths of my struggle with OCD. As my OCD trended, so too trended my memories in a reverse parallel. During my darkest days, my attention was…