Someone asked me to write about talking to myself for this week’s blog. I decided to make that a bit more didactic than my daily rambling that appears to be a nutty lady mumbling to herself. In my life, there is more than the constant babble of me talking to me. A complexity deeper than me talking to my dogs. There is a psychology to the noise that fills the rooms of this big house while I am alone all day. The big house I live in and, the big house that is my head filled with intrusive thoughts.
Franklin P. Jones said,
“One advantage of talking to yourself is that you know someone is listening.”
What Mr. Jones did not realize is that there are times when one gets tired of hearing one’s own voice.
I am also sick of hearing you, (yeah, I am pointing to you over there, the one buying yet another drawer organizer at IKEA), calling your neatness “Just SO OCD!”
I woke this morning to heavy humidity, ominous clouds, and an ache in my body that could only mean one thing: storm.
I woke up with anxiety, of course. What made me anxious? The deciding. I am not a fan of deciding. Shower first then go downstairs and feed the dogs, or feed the dogs then go back upstairs and shower.
“You are such a lazy cow. You aren’t doing anything today, who cares what you do.” And so it begins.
I close my bedroom window because it might rain. Wait, until it rains the breeze is pleasant, I open my window. I take a shower.
From 7:15 AM until 2:55 PM I repeated over and over in my head,
“Storm signals are up at number 17. Bit of heavy weather brewing there.”
It did shorten, beginning at about 8:00 AM to a simple, “Storm signals are up at 17.”
That is a quote from “Mary Poppins”. Admiral Boom. He treats his home as a ship; he keeps a log of the neighborhood.
The Complexity of Intrusive Thoughts
My brain maintains a record of things, and when it finds something it particularly likes it holds on. It holds on like a skip in a vinyl record; it skips over and over until it finds something else of interest.
All of these things I have mentioned are “intrusive thoughts.”
That is probably different from your perception of OCD. The alphabetizing the spice rack, perfectly folding the towels in the cabinet, hanging your clothes on only white hangers. Ok, so I do two out of three of those things. Those are the “Compulsions” of OCD. Today I am primarily talking about the intrusive thoughts of OCD, the words, phrases, sounds. We can get to the other aspects of OCD another time. This version of OCD is one that is not the stereotype.
At 2:55 PM I leashed up the dogs and headed outside for walk number two. The wind was whipping up everything around me. I hate the wind, and I did not like that the whipping up included my skirt. Walking the dogs was a pain today. My skirt was too short for this activity, and I was bending over to pick up the mess, worried about that skirt. I am becoming more sensitive to just who sees what and what message they think I am sending.
Now I need to figure out who saw what and if they think I am slutty.
I check out each house, each window, each possibility. Who could have seen my skirt inch up as I reached down,
Did they think I wore this outfit on purpose?
Sometimes I send pictures of my outfits to my friend Donna. I don’t tell her why, but I know she will tell me if what I am wearing is inappropriate. My daughter used to be my barometer. I have never been told to change, but it is what I think about when I get dressed every day.
The sun was behind the clouds. The sky was changing color. The track on my anxiety playlist changed:
“Red sky at night; sailors delight,
Red sky in the morning; sailors warning.”
I hadn’t thought of that one in a long time. It’s catchy. Catchy can be part of the problem. In fact, it’s going on back there as I am typing this. While jumbled with a mess of other things, still present. I am not anxious at the moment, but bedtime anxiety will start soon, and I am curious to see what pops up.
“You are ugly.”
“The house will catch fire downstairs, go to your room, close all the doors,” oh shit wait, why am I upstairs? So, close all of the doors upstairs, leave the windows cracked a bit, so the combustion doesn’t build up and create a backdraft. I also make sure I have the dogs contained in a small area so I can get all three of them in the car easily. We stay downstairs in one room. I am always ready to leave in case of fire. Even at night. I have clothes that are easy to slip on, and shoes right by the bed. This practice applies to my thoughts about possible earthquakes as well.
I have disturbing thoughts about people that pass me on the street or at the grocery store. The intrusive thoughts aren’t only repetitious thoughts. The only constant is the anxiety.
I know sweetie, this happens to you too, because you are just “SOOO OCD!” (giggle giggle)
This Is Not Psychosis
Let’s get down to why this happens. To begin with, I mentioned that I woke up this morning with anxiety. I have written about morning anxiety being a common WhatTheJules situation. I am not psychotic. No voice is telling me what to do. I have not lost contact with reality. I know that these are thoughts from my memory triggered by anxiety that is repeating over and over.
In my research, I learned that the humans have a propensity for the “earworm.” It is anxiety that gets things stuck in the way that I described above. It is more than getting a song stuck in your head. When the thoughts are intrusive and distract you from your daily activities we are in a cycle, and when we are in a cycle, we have slid into the home plate of OCD.
Today I had some chores I needed to get done. If the words didn’t distract me from my activities, as I just mentioned, I would be okay. I don’t like to be out and about when I am anxious and distracted. I lost a little over a year, stuck in my apartment in one of the greatest cities in the world.
While I have some tools I am going to tell you about that help me while I am out, being out isn’t the big issue; GETTING OUT is the issue. Once I am out, in the car with my music or my Audible book, I am great. I am always glad I went out once I get out of the driveway.
Here are my tools. Some I use at home; some I use when I am out. They work for as long as I continually do them. If I stop for a moment, I am screwed. It’s enormous effort, an effort that can be exhausting. Some of the tools I use are fun.
1. Listen to music, and sing LOUD.
2. Listen to Audible books. (I can complete about one a week.)
3. Talk to a friend on the phone.
4. Speak to my dogs.
5. Just talk out loud to anyone. Talk to check-out clerks, people in line. Yes, I am THAT person. (When I am out to dinner, for example, keep the conversation going.)
6. There are thought stopping techniques that work.
7. Marathon some television show and focus on the plot and dialog intently.
I can say “STOP” to myself, but I need to replace the thought with a positive affirmation immediately.
I suppose the questions are this: Do I talk to myself, or is myself talking to me? What ghosts are talking to me, and why? I know that my anxiety causes OCD. I know that my anxiety is chemical. I live with the sound. I expect my voice, and the voice of the Admiral or whatever else gets stuck in my head.
OCD is many things. It is as individual as a thumbprint to those of us that live with it daily. For me, it is a life of “tricking” my way around these very annoying, loss causing, symptoms of anxiety. I will tell you what isn’t OCD? OCD is not ill-advised, not-so-funny, off-handed comment of the neat person who says, as they set their table or put away their groceries, “Oh, I am so OCD!” (giggle giggle) In fact, I am looking at a very off-center line of crystal decanters on my shelf, and I am not going to make the effort to fix them until the housekeeper dusts up there. I am SO OCD! But, it doesn’t have to be THAT way.
Additional reading on OCD:
What is OCD?
Something I didn’t talk about, but a part of my OCD that makes my skin crawl. The noises people make when they eat, tap, and live. (Seriously, just live the way I want you to and my nightmare will end.)
What is Psychosis?
Read posts (a message board) from people just like me.
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