Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's ok. 1,2,3,4

It’s ok. 1, 2, 3 4. Let’s go. 1,2,3,4.(turn neck all around to the left and stretch upper vertebre). It’s ok. 1,2,3,4. Let’s go. 1,2,3,4. (crack lower back from side to side while cracking knuckles) This 1,2,3,4. Olympian. CIA. You have everything to be happy for and nothing to be upset about. 1,2,3,4. Ok. 1,2,3,4. Just do it. (crack neck forward).

It makes no sense, I know. But that (and variations of it) is what I feel ‘compelled’ to say hundreds of times every day. Compelled is the important word. People always ask me, “Well, what happens if you just refuse to do it?” Well, I don’t detonate or anything. I just feel incredibly uncomfortable. It’s like an itch. A horrible itch that doesn’t go away. For some unknown reason, my body feels uncomfortable. Most itches are on the skin but my itches are in my mind. While most itches get soothed with fingernails mine get soothed by saying “It’s ok. 1,2,3,4 etc.” So what would happen if I didn’t say it? Well, what would happen if you had horrible poison ivy all over your body and you refused to scratch it or put anything on it? You would be incredibly uncomfortable, you would be unproductive and unable to take your mind off of it, and you would feel like screaming. Same thing for me. So, I scratch my itch. And I feel better… for a few seconds.

It’s not that simple though. Everything has to be done perfectly… or it doesn’t count. My mind makes up these rules… “if I’m not focused when I say my phrases then it doesn’t count,” “If I stutter or mess up a word, it doesn’t count,” “if I don’t say it out loud it doesn’t count,” “if I rush through it, it doesn’t count,” etc. So, what happens when “it doesn’t count?” Well, I have to say it all again. BUT WAIT! My mind has a policy for these things… NO EVEN NUMBERS! I can’t succeed on my second try. So… I have to do it twice more. And there’s no fooling my mind. If you rush through the second one because you want to get to the third and final one quickly… my mind will know and you’ll be doing 5.

This process is incredibly stressful. It requires intense focus. And I hate it. I resent it. I don’t like doing it. But I have to do it before everything. Before I eat a meal (or my mind tells me I can’t enjoy the meal), before a test or before writing any kind of paper (or my mind tells me I will do poorly and I actually feel like I can’t focus), before I go out for the night, before I begin a movie, or a book, or a newspaper article, or a day at work. Before I go to sleep, before I clean my room, before I do anything and everything. Sometimes I just can’t get the energy to do it and so… I don’t. Often, when faced with the simplest task, I will simply become paralyzed, mentally paralyzed. This blog, for example, is late, in part because I just couldn’t get myself to do it. I’ve sat at my computer a dozen times this week but haven’t been able and/or willing to get myself to do it. One night this week dinner was too stressful, but I was really hungry, so I just went to sleep at 8:00. Cleaning my desk or doing laundry are monumental tasks. I went a week charging everything to my credit card because for some reason I was unable to get myself to go to the ATM.

This is a good place to write about how the OCD impacts me too. OCD and Tourette’s are interchangeable to me. I can’t really articulate which is which but it doesn’t matter. The ATM. Why couldn’t I just put my card in? I obsessed. Every day to a debilitating extent. The 2 dollar service charge. Why do I care about a 2 dollar service charge? I don’t. My mind does. I feel like I’m being inefficient. I’m wasting money. My mind chastises me. Yells at me. Tells my I’m a failure. For the most ridiculous things. Every time I buy something, I overpaid or I wasted money. Every time I go out, I went to the wrong place or I should be doing something else. My mind judges me like the stereotypical 1950s war veteran father. Everything I do is wrong. To make it worse I obsess over it. While most people can push these things out of their mind, I can’t. I spend hours worrying, stressing, feeling WRONG. Every decision becomes the most important one of my life. Which restaurant to go to? If I’m spending too much at the grocery store? If I’m getting the most out of my summer? And the consequences, oh my God. I don’t have the ability to say ‘so what?’ The smallest thing has the worst consequences. I feel like I am ruining my life. This leads to depression. Irrational depression. Yes. But depression none the less. In order to talk myself out of my depression I would have to go through an extensive version of one of the rituals that I listed above but those take too much energy so… I just go to sleep.

OK, MTV, thanks for visiting now get out of my head. I hope you all found my thought process interesting. Please, if you found my thought process interesting take it with you. I don’t like it. Take it for free. Peace.

Andrew Lustig

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