…Or How to Be Functional with a Mental Disorder That Sucks Away Your Functionality.
I slept in until 10 am today. That is actually quite an occurrence considering I normally wake up at 3 or 4 am. I am addicted to being productive, and I’ve realized that waking up at what most would consider a stupid hour1 helps me achieve that. Addicted is the right word because with my OCD it is an obsession. I always have to produce. If I do not produce, I am worthless and feel an insane amount of guilt.
However, my anxiety got the best of me and I found some way to let myself sleep until 10 am. How did I do this? Oh, this isn’t the self-help part—I don’t do that. You’ll need to find another site for that. I just go from mind to article here. I wake at 4 am, I find things I can somehow consider “productive” just for the purposes of tricking my mind into not thinking I am a lazy sloth. I have a lot of rote work I can do, always. But the anxiety calls, and I find myself back in bed. The only difference is this time I have all my clothes on and some coffee in me. I still sleep. Anxiety is great for that.
I hate starting large projects. Oh, I realize this is common and not a wild revelation about myself as a human. But I hate starting things for a somewhat different reason than others. My OCD forces me to think of every eventuality of the outcome of the said project. The larger it is, the closer to infinity the eventualities are. I have to think of everything, and I start with the negative.
“How could this all go wrong?” To this, I have countless answers. I do also find a place in my brain to think of the antithetical: “how could this go amazingly right, and I could reap great and massive reward from this project?” Well, this—while peppered with a bit of my own special delusions of grandeur—also brings me back to the negative. Funny how that works. I think of the best possible outcomes, and I’m immediately thereafter thinking of how I could mess up the best outcomes, and how terrible of a loss I’d feel because of this.
I often do not start work because I am afraid of, in the future, becoming depressed because I did not get what I could have because I did not execute properly. My depression you see can time-travel!
So that’s the fog, the wall, that stops me from moving forward. Yet I produce at a prolific pace. Somehow.
That somehow is based off fear. Again, no self-help here. Have no “five great tricks to turning your fears into success.” I just fear really good.
As someone with OCD, I have to weigh the horror of moving things forward in my calendar as compared to actually doing them. I so the former, and I hate it. So I’ve found that if I begin by half-assing something large, my OCD will actually take over and perfect things to my own standards2.
This is what I do. I have OCD and I half-ass, and then back-fill in the perfection part from the energy my own mental disorder already has stored for such. Things aren’t going to be done wrong with me—my OCD does not allow that. However, I can start with crap. That is ok. I’ve learned that is ok. I’ve taught myself this is ok.
And this is the key to me being productive. At work, in my creative work, in life. I produce absolute crap and mold it into perfection using my disorder’s own stored energy. It works!
Well, it works somewhat. Starting with crap has its disadvantages, in that the end result—while often stellar—is obviously put together in an absolutely unconventional manner. You see, I also don’t know how to do much. I just guess at most everything. How did I start painting? I just painted. Everything I do is abstract, so “complete” is a construct of my own mind. Oh, don’t get me wrong3. I know when things are right. I have OCD, it comes with the territory.
Here’s a great example: this friggin’ article. I needed to do something to combat waking up at 10 am. So I started writing. The title and the cute secondary title seemed good. The opening paragraph started as pure crap that went all over the place. What you didn’t see (writers, note, do not have to use slight of hand because you cannot spy on us while we work4) is how, after I started wading through the crap my OCD took over and made everything right by me.
Is it right by you? I don’t know.
You’ve made it to the end.
That’s saying something I suppose.