I originally wrote the draft of this article with the headline “Is a Life with OCD Worth Living?” But I realized that would—off the bat, without the forthcoming context—be taken in a very awful way. This article is about a journey in my own head—both positive and negative. It is not about suicide or anything of that nature at all.
Sometimes I am jealous of two types of people. One, I think it goes without saying I am rather jealous of those who do not have the affliction I have, and can think in what I would consider a “thinner” manner than I. I use the word “thinner” because I do not want to allude to anything regarding stupidity, idiocy, ignorance, or anything negative. I, with OCD, think thickly—every single thought has veins into thoughts of equal importance, which have veins into more thoughts of equal importance, until overload. Those who think thinner—or to use the simplistic term, “normally—” tend to be able to have a thought (grand or inconsequential) and just use it. Nothing much more. Use it for good, evil, or just a useless friggin’ thought that goes nowhere.
The second type of person I admit I am jealous of are those with mental illness so profound, that they do not have a sense of their illness. I believe this to be the case when you get into the area of types of schizophrenia. I believe sociopaths certainly fall within this1. I am not a doctor, I have only my own experience with people of degrees of mental illness through my own hospitalization and undying2 curiosity.
I was not only given a set of mental disorders, I was also given the ability to sense them from an intelligent level outside the disorder. I’ve been given the ability to analyze them. To see them affect me. To understand what is happening. Using the term “coma” as a metaphor never describes me, at any point in time in my life. Ever. And that is evil gameplay by who/whatever the heck our creator is.
Some of the most common and scariest fears rational people have, when fantasizing about fears or hearing about abnormal circumstances are being buried alive or being locked-in. “Locked-in syndrome,” if you don’t know, is a most horrid condition of paralysis where pretty much everything but the eyes cannot move.
While I am currently not buried alive,3 not am I locked in, both of these situations I can use metaphorically for what OCD does to me no an all too frequent basis. The specifics of which, I’ve written about here quite a bit, so I’d like to take the view up the ladder a bit and look at the whole. Assuming you’ve read about the “every eventuality” thought, know that my OCD is more on the mental (obsession) site rather than the physical (compulsion,) and in general get the way this disorder stifles my life—let’s look at the whole. (And note, you don’t actually have to go back and read anything specific here—just assume from the previous few sentences. Put simply: OCD really sucks the life out of you.)
We all have a limited amount of time on this Earth, that is a truism. One cannot stop that, and therefore every one of our lives is a finite container. We may or may not believe in the afterlife—but that would be, as the word suggests, after life. Let us only focus on life. A finite time from birth to death in which we’re able to do and be stuff.
Having OCD—and this may apply to other mental disorders, in fact I know it does—takes up time. It can take up the entirety of long consecutive periods of time. “Take up” is a key phrase here that I’d like to focus on. It suggests, and I mean it to suggest, that it is taking away from other—better—things that could be happening during the time in which the obsessions and compulsions are the sole focus of my brain. I am quite literally losing time to this disorder. Quite a bit. I don’t have a percentage exactly, as I shy away from things like mood charts,4 but I would put it in the range of eighty to ninety percent of bad days where I am fully in an OCD episode, and twenty to thirty percent of normal days. Some quick calculations on how often OCD episodes occur in my life taken down in my head, adding in auxiliary disorders that spring from my OCD… and I’m going to say I give (waste?) about fifty percent of my time on Earth to my mental illness.
That is an insanely large amount of time. And I am only taking into account waking hours—as who the heck knows what goes on when I sleep. I do know I sleep about twenty-five percent of the day. Because my OCD is erratic, it is useless to do math beyond where we are—but I can conclude that pretty much all of many days and an unhealthy chunk of the other days are taken up just with this non-productive paralysis, this dirt under which I am buried.
I’ll stop here for a bit, as my brain wants me to do so. This is truly depressing to write. To be able to see and observe your own debilitation is a curse like none other. Thus my aforementioned jealousy of those who are not such cursed. I have this massive blockade to living life that many other people do not have, yet I am in a position to spend time writing about it ad nauseum! And I do. Am I spinning my wheels, or am I contributing to parts of the large varieties of human conditions? I don’t know. I have OCD and I have to observe and comment on it to the degree this site goes.
And thus… what is my life? An infinite loop? My own feedback into myself and outward about myself and nothing more? Am I productive in any of this5?
Again, trying to stay a mile on top of specifics and details, and leaving them for other articles, I must note I have a proclivity to take the inevitable dwelling on my own OCD and move into a scorched-earth mode of thinking where I want to cut everything and anything off and just disappear from this life. But of course I can’t, as the OCD will, of course, follow me wherever I go. But it is important to note this mode of thinking. It Is not necessarily healthy or unhealthy—but it is part of the deeper part of the compulsion of OCD. To try and stop the OCD by any means necessary. It manifests itself in existential fantasies of quitting jobs, moving away, all of that. These are obsessions, they are not flighty thoughts. They are real. I just do not act on them, but rarely when I change my whole life around—which happens at intervals measured in years and sometimes decades.
So let’s get down to it. Is this all worth it? I’m spending most of my time worrying about, thinking about, charting on how I spend my time. Snake, meet tail.
However, is that a notch in the “cons” column? It may not be. Because if you think about it, the ability to self-observe is also a gift. And the more one can, with intelligence and vigor, I’d say that even if the subject matter is a true disorder—that person has it better than a lot of people, just by being able to experience the existential. Which I am positive most people cannot.
We don’t know what we live. We have no idea why we are here. But we do exist. And maybe this whole disorder isn’t so depressing after all, as living inside your own mind—when it has the ability to understand its own existence, regardless of how warped said existence is relative to others—isn’t the worst place to be. Because what other options are there? Well there is really only one other option—complete ignorance.
This, all of the sudden, makes me a slight bit happy. Not fully, that will never happen. I have anhedonia. I am going to live! Paralyzed or buried alive, I am going to be that. I am not a sociopath—they have all the fun—so barring a life without conscience, I think a life of obsessive examination can be considered a pinnacle of a type of life. That is to presuppose there are many types of life, and mine is almost purely internal.
Maybe that is not a bad thing. It is difficult. I will wager anyone anything that no matter how you wish to measure “difficulty,” it is more difficult than most people have it, aside from those with life-altering conditions that go well beyond the constraints of this site (which are the constraints of my life relative to what I—and you, probably—consider “normal.”)
This is the life I lead. It is overwhelming (bad) as well as overflowing (maybe not so bad.) In some aspects, my obsessions have simplified life. When not in a Fog of Everything All at Once, I am singularly focused. And that is an energetic and often productive focus—more productive, at these times, than anyone I know. That is a good thing.
So I wonder, has my own brain decided life with my OCD it absolutely worth it because it continues to seek, to obsess? Are these obsessions not a sign that I want from this world? And if I want from this world, then I am somehow meant to be here?
These are all questions. I am not going to answer them here, as I do not have the answers. Yet, or maybe ever. But when I look at my OCD and mental illnesses as negative, I can sometimes move my mind’s focus on the reversal of that negative by taking a step upwards and looking from outside of the fog.
Will my quality of life be like that of those who I see as “normal?” I would say no. But am I living a life worth living.
When I calculate it out deeply, when I observe the whole for its entire structure, the answer is:
1 And I must say sociopathic behavior is something the really deserves its own article on this site, but we’ll just leave it as a simple notion for now. [BACK]
2 “Undying” being a word not to be taken lightly here—that is pretty much the crux of this whole site. [BACK]
3 If I were, these articles would be less verbose until that situation were remedied. [BACK]
4 Don’t get me wrong, I chart most of my life. I shared one here. But I keep most of them to myself, and they aren’t as simple as mood charts—which seem to tell me nothing but the time wasted to my disorder, and thus depress me. [BACK]
5 It is important to not that with OCD—at least mine—productivity is a major obsession. I must always feel productive. This article, sadly, speaks to that not happening as I wish. [BACK]