Monday, January 11, 2010

Abnormal psychology

I've written here about my struggles with depression and disordered eating, but not so much about my obsessive-compulsive tendencies. They've died down a bit since I went on Lexapro more than a year ago, but I still find myself battling irrational cause-effect relationships in my mind. It's not "If I lend this camera to my friend for the night, he'll break it," but instead: "If I lend this camera to my friend for the night, I'll be unable to stop worrying about whether he'll break it and thus my work will suffer." It's a step removed from actually not trusting the friend.

It's not (usually) that I'm an ungenerous person, it's that I let my neurosis hijack my behavior and prevent me from being as giving as I want to be. (And yes, I'm the one letting this happen. I'm getting better at fighting what I call "pre-worry" or "meta-worry" -- worrying compulsively that I'll worry -- but I still have a ways to go.) Sometimes it's hard for me to separate my mind's obsessive-compulsive "reasoning" from valid logic or meaningful emotion. It's the same problem I've long had with ambient noise, a big pet peeve of mine.

Sometimes I have reason to complain about noise (i.e., a "normal" person would), while at other times I'm unusually sensitive to unwanted sounds (a "normal" person wouldn't be upset, but I am). Figuring out the boundary between reasonable and unreasonable discomfort remains tricky for me, though again, I'm improving. Using earplugs, which I began doing when I moved to the Kibbutz in August of 2008, has been a minor revelation. How did I survive without them all those years? How much tension could they have relieved when I was in high school and college?

I don't have a lot more to say about this at the moment, except that I've gotten better at making decisions, and not whipping myself into a total neurotic lather in the process, since starting therapy in late 2005. I'm grateful to have somewhere to go each week -- or every couple weeks, now that I'm in a money crunch -- where I can decompress, talk through my issues du jour, and realize how much stress I carry around. I still prescribe exercise and meditation for my problems, but I'm having a devil of a time getting myself to fill the prescription.

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