What Hyper-Awareness Means with OCD

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You see a kitchen, I see:

1. Uneaten rice left over that depresses me. A strange reaction? Possibly. Uneaten food depresses me. The concept brought me to tears when I was a kid. I do not know why. It is what we in the business1 call “a thing.”

2. Unwashed dishes, which is an opportunity for ritual. This is a good thing.

3. A cat litter scooper held on the wall by a nail. That should be a hook, as the other room has its scooper on a hook, and it feels perfect on a hook. This is wrong. I need to fix this, but shit- with what time?

4. Dirt and grime in areas I have promised myself I will ignore. And in the world of small victories, I can ignore this mess- though I disagree with it being there.

5. Nothing else.

Having OCD means I am hyper-aware (that will be a recurring theme here.) That is a very generic phrase there, and it needs to be explained for all its nuance and wider definition. My hyper-awareness does take into account my entire environment. That seems contradictory, but it is the type of hyper-awareness I have with OCD.

Looking at my world around me (either the physical or the mental), I am looking with figurative binoculars on. I have as much extreme focus on things as I have ignorance of things. I fixate. I have to, because The Whole of anything is overwhelming to me – and I do mean anything. There is not a situation, room, idea, physical object that when looked at as a whole thing that does not fill my brain with stuff. What is that stuff? Like I’ve mentioned before, I think of every eventuality and that extends beyond the mental into the tangible. If I see something for its “whole,” I see way more than my brain can take in.

So I cope by fixating on very specific things. Sometimes it feels as if a random number generator decides these things2. Sometimes if feel in control of what I observe, and it often doesn’t make me happy. Because I do focus on the negative, as I always want to solve problems. And to solve problems, which is my fetish, I must find and observe them.

Even with figurative blinders on, my sensitivity is still ratcheted up to the highest limits, and my focus is unlike any normal person- be it very particular words in a conversation, or exact and singular details of tangible stuff around me. This is a major characteristic of OCD- there is no “whole,” but individual parts I can wither place my laser-sized concentration on, or I just cannot and will not sense.

What does this make me out to be in the eyes of others? Well, a whole lot of contradiction, you’ll notice that.

I often walk down the same street to the same store, maybe 3-4 times a week. Going on a year now at the place I live at. The sheer majority of things around me during this walk, I have never taken notice to. When I happen to walk with someone else, they will point out big things like buildings and other such stuff- and I will always find myself saying: “I’ve never noticed that!” All the time.

At the same time, having a conversation with me- I will focus only on certain words and phrases. And I will not stop until those specific words and phrases are parsed, defined and agreed on in terms of said definition between myself and the person I am conversing with. I have picked these words out because they speak to eventualities which spark fear, possibilities of bad things happening, or potential for misunderstanding. They are problems, these particulars- and they need to be solved.

Oh, and misunderstandings. It is no different than the cliché physical dirt you often associate a person with OCD having issue with. It is very much like how you see it in media- but with words and not physical dirt. Conversations need to end clean. Words need to be explained ad nauseum until they are clean.

I abhor lack of safety, and any misunderstanding in conversation (often felt from only a few words or phrases) brings about uncomfortable potential lack of safety.

Just like that which I do and do not notice on my walk to the store, I most likely do not take in (guessing here) 80% to 90% of most heavier conversations. But to note- it is not because I wish to ignore you or any other person. My brain moves very quickly in picking out very specific things. It’s not such a great thing, but I will defend myself and my OCD in saying it is also not the worst thing.

None of this is inherently bad, I am just an incomplete person. Or, better put, I have an incomplete brain. But that which I do focus on is often important! I’m pretty convinced of that. I will never say I am always right, as no one is regardless of mental make-up.

However, and this is the concluding point- under which you, I, and anyone else needs to frame this whole situation: If I am just thought of as a just a tool in the wider universe of humanity, I think my OCD, and what it brings about in terms of my style of hyper-awareness, can fit to a level of “ok” in society.

 

1 Really? “The business?” I think you got my point, but that just sounds off. I am now questioning my writing skills. But I’m going to leave this be, as that is part of the cathartic nature of this site. Over-thinking two words? Of course!

2 Yeah, my brain most certainly has a random number generator making a lot of decisions for me as to what I observe and how.