I have spent a good portion of the past five months digging into almost every nuance I can think of regarding my OCD, OCD in general, and even how other mental disorders leak—I find that to be the aptest word—into the overall makeup of my mind. A mind which—I will fully put out there, regardless of what others may think about mental disorders1—is at its core broken.
It is always important to revisit the core of my OCD. Not to reinforce it—no, that is taken care of by the part of my brain I do not control. At least I feel revisiting the core of all of this is not actually making my OCD more entrenched. Observation shouldn’t do that2.
Here’s the deal: there is no solution. That’s really it. Any feelings of order, which is the condition into which I conflate happiness and comfort, are fleeting. And these feelings of order are so clearly a mirage, that I float through them, try to enjoy them a little, and then get back to the business of nothing being right.
That, you see, is the constant: nothing is ever right. Because, to me, “right” is an impossibly large set of circumstances—from the smallest details to the most life-defining circumstances. All of these things need to be in order for me to be truly—not fleetingly—happy and comfortable.
As I write this:
1. There is a stain on my shirt3.
2. There is a far too open-ended contractual situation with one of my businesses
3. I feel I have not talked to my good friend enough, one that helped me through my worst times. I feel like I am blowing her off for work 4.
4. I am in the middle of finding the right brown colored shorts, and I am waiting for the second attempt to come in the mail because the first ones I purchased were not the perfect brown.
5. I don’t feel I’ve organized my business pamphlets and marketing materials right.
6. This article is terrible—none of what I want to say is coming out in a concise, organized fashion at all. It is not that perfect specimen of structured words.
7. My web server is down, and there is nothing I can do to fix it other than keep bugging the people who manage the connections to that. Clients will soon be angry at me.
(I’ll stop at seven, knowing I could easily get to a much larger number, but the point has been made for this article.)
Oh, and I try to make all of this right! I can tackle the five things mentioned, but the list is, by my nature, infinite. That is the important thing, that which is not right with the world is set on a conveyor belt that never stops moving.
If I have the energy, all I am doing is making individual things right. One with OCD can never make progress in making things right enough to feel good. If I do not have the energy, these things fall off the belt into a pile. That pile is where depression leaks in. So it is either do tasks of an infinite nature or be depressed. That is life.
Now, I understand a lot of this may seem like normal life. None of us complete everything and wipe our hands, being done with “life.” But to me, I am obsessed with doing so. I must complete life as if it were a game. I have a mission given to me by the part of my brain I do not control—and that mission is to tackle the infinite. I must not only put my head down and start working on it (the rational part), I must also complete it all (the irrational part, but a part I cannot separate from the rational.)
I must complete life.
This is why I feel suicidal ideation is somewhat common in people with disorders like I have. Please do note, before moving any further with your thoughts on this subject, the difference between suicidal ideation and suicidal thoughts. The latter is a serious working up of a plan to take one’s life—regardless of how nascent or actionable such plans are. Ideation is merely the passing thought of the concept of suicide. These are truly two different things. Suicidal ideation is, as macabre as you may think this is, another form of organizing life. Completing it.
The reasons for this are because “completing life” is an absurd notion, and thus all ideas are considered when someone like myself is obsessed with—as in thinking it is rational to complete—something so impossibly absurd.
I tend to dig deep into the nuance of my OCD and other mental health issues. That is good! I need to know I know myself as best I can. Along with this, however, it is good to step back and look at the more simplistic elements of my condition. And, well, these are them.
Nothing is ever right. Oh, certain items become right. But there is a never-ending set of other items that are not right. So as a whole, things are never all right. That is a construct in which I will live forever.
It must be noted though, as I write this over-arching screed… I have successfully removed the stain from my shirt. So onward I move to the next wrongly-ordered situation.
1 OK, there is a simmering debate out there regarding mental disorders. Is the whole concept of “disorder” the proper way to look at these things? Are people with what we consider mental illness, actually “ill?” Or are they not ill, in order, and just have a different way of thinking about the world? This is a tremendously important debate. However, it is really not one I wish to touch on beyond a footnote. Because at my own core, just me, I know my brain is not working properly. I know this. I, therefore, will use the term “disorder” and “illness” for myself. At the same time, I would love to take some time to explore this concept more. But not right now. [BACK]
2 Although it is true that in some scientific situations, observation does indeed affect that which is observed. In this case, though, I think observation balances out any effects on the actual disorder. [BACK]
3 Actually, the stain is gone, but I attempted to use a permanent black marker to cover it up in an OCD episode because I didn’t trust that washing it would work. [BACK]
4 I tally communication with friends as a type of organization. [BACK]