The most soothing part of OCD is routine. Compulsions are often routine. At the same time, the most unhappy part of OCD is routine. Happiness requires some form of novelty, which generally affronts routine. Novelty meaning doing something outside of the routine that could potentially bring about happiness in the discovery of new sensations felt while doing things one enjoys.
I believe in this, and I feel at times—not all the time—that my penchant for routine, that is my OCD, leads me away from active happiness and keeps me merely in a place of comfort. Comfort when the routines do soothe, and wanting of comfort when they don’t. And when I am not comfortable, I am obsessed only with becoming comfortable. Not necessarily happy.
My life is often only an exercise in completing tasks.
These tasks are sometimes difficult in terms of challenging my abilities, sometimes difficult because of my social awkwardness, sometimes easy because they’re rote. All of these bring a type of happiness when completed. But that happiness is only tied to the destination of completing the task.
I love moving things from my calendar into the “done” area. I love it like a fetish. But it does not bring me a joy that lasts with any significance. There are always more tasks. Which itself is fine, but all of them end up as a short burst of joy because they are no longer tasks.
Oh, and throughout all of this, I have this feeling of pure accomplishment. “Pure” is the focal word here. It is just accomplishment, nothing else. My OCD is satiated. I am… productive. I can say that. I can end the day knowing that. I can be that person. A productive person.
But time moves on. And with every minute, every day that passes just being productive means a day missed working my brain aside of mere productivity.
I am a creative person. I paint, more often now than the past decade but nowhere near as often as I’d like. I want to make music as I did 20-some years ago. Not to recapture my youth, but because I have novel ways I’ve composed music in my head.
That novelty—just the thought of it—does make me happy. I like to study music theory, and I like the fact that I can envision working in a novel way unlike others with music. Same goes for so many other areas of art and creativity.
But I don’t do it. I am focused on overcoming my OCD through completing tasks. Even my journey to mitigating my OCD has been a long series of tasks. Quite literally. Many of them still resting in folders, on legal paper, many items scratched off as “done.”
That’s not happiness. That is doing stuff. And what is a life of just completing tasks? Is that a happy life? It is certainly not miserable. But is it happy?
When I look at it in the moment of completing these items, I feel… good… –ish. But when I look at it holistically, it is not where I want to be. I am not discovering things outside of just learning from books, videos, and the like. I am not applying what I learn.
And I know how I would do it!
But my OCD keeps me seeking comfort and only comfort. My OCD keeps me working to get out of the uncomfortable and then only stay in the comfortable. That is the problem with being a creative person with OCD.
Everything is work. And I am good at work. I am obsessive about work.
But work for work’s sake is a waste of time. And quite possibly my life.