It's been a bit of a rollercoaster week. I can't get into details right now, but I can say the events that have taken place have caused me to re-evaluate some time intensive parts of my life. Due to that intensity I haven't been able to set aside much time to create for myself. So, I'm treating this entry as my creation, since it'll also act as a personal blog entry.
One thing I can talk about is that I'm 95% certain I have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Towards the end of this past week, my partner brought up that she had some concerns around my obsessive tendencies, and that I was applying them towards eating. Now that I'm exercising quite a bit more often and intensely, my focus has been on modifying my diet to support these changes alongside stimulating muscle growth and increasing fat loss.
I've probably spent the majority of our conversations at the dinner table the last 2 weeks talking about what kinds of dietary changes I want to make—riveting conversation, I know. The regularity and intensity that I brought them up is what caused her concern. Understandably so. It's kind of surprising that it's taken this long for her to raise a concern about my obsessive behaviours.
I've always had obsessions. Even as a kid, I'd go deep on subjects that interested me. As I've gotten older, it's almost gotten "worse" to some degree. The depth and intensity only seems to grow as I get older. I've always assumed it was just what happens to people when something really grabs their attention. I've heard of folks with ADHD hyper focusing, people with Autism consuming epic amounts of information on topics and "average" people staying in an industry for years because they enjoyed it. What I hasn't been common is hearing about the "Obsessive" part of OCD.
For whatever reason when my partner brought up my fixation on eating as an "obsession" it kind of clicked in my mind. I've never looked into OCD. And, no one I know has ever mentioned it! Not even therapists or psychologists as a child. Maybe it's because the definition has changed over time or my symptoms have evolved since then. In any case, I haven't ever been prompted to look into it. I've also always had this mental model of an OCD person as portrayed in film and TV. You have to obsessively count, arrange or ensure something is done exactly in the same way, otherwise it's dooms day.
After a bit of reading on the topic of OCD, and finding that, like most mental illnesses, it's a spectrum, I started to identify a lot of similarities in what they describe and what I've lived. Especially over the last 2 years of the pandemic. I then stumbled across a video of John Green describing what OCD was like for him. Man, did that video hit me over the head like a clarity hammer! About halfway through the video, he brings up having the compulsion to Google if mouldy bread would kill you for the thousandth time, and being unable to shake thinking about it. That his mind would get stuck on it and consume him, making him unable to focus on anything else. Right at that point, I paused the video and started laughing hysterically. "Holy shit, that's me!" I grabbed my partner and showed her the clip, which then lead to her to laughing hysterically. "Yep, that's you alright!" She said while catching her breath.
Looking back at my life, and the many high ups and the extremely deep lows, it all started to fall into place. These obsessions, and compulsions to repeat the same set of actions—typically a form of research or even physical ritual—to quell my obsession are directly proportional to how "good" I'm feeling overall. The times I'm at my lowest, I'm fixated on something negative. I don't have any say in what my mind attaches to, and I find myself googling, reading or acting the same things out over and over again to give my mind some rest. When I'm in my highest of highs, I either have a "healthy" obsession, where the compulsion is to work or better myself, or I'm just better at not giving into them and building up a tolerance to the discomfort of thinking about those obsessions. Eventually, they quiet down and I can move on from them without putting in the effort to redirect.
What I'm most excited about is now having a label that makes sense for me and what I feel. I've always felt my mind was a mish-mash of symptoms, and it made finding a path towards treatment difficult. This new found clarity has given me a path to walk down. A road towards understanding what types of coping mechanisms I need, that won't accidentally hurt me and will give me the mental reprieve I need. It appears a lot of folks out there have some form of OCD, and I suspect it's higher than we think, mostly because the image of an OCD person seems to be the more extreme cases, or of the most "obvious" symptoms. Obsessive thinking is normal to some degree, and can happen to anyone. But, if it's this regular and debilitating for you it might be time to considering reading up on OCD.