My Bookbag Anxiety

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I have my quirks—most of which I can make fun of—and I have my obsessions, which generally get in the way of all rational thought and go as far as feeling like an omen. This here is a case where both meet. As well, this gives me a chance to explore with you the Generalized Anxiety Disorder side of me—a diagnosis I’ve had well before I was diagnosed with OCD as well. The GAD is still there, it’s all part of the crazy.

I carry around a bookbag wherever I go. It contains far more than I probably need to be carrying around, but that’s OCD for you. I feel lost without my bookbag because it contains a day’s worth of medication… heck, a day’s worth of everything. Except toothpaste. I assume that would find a way to get messy. Do note—I pretty much never leave the house for more than a few hours, if that. But I’ve grown to love my bookbag on me.

There is no reasonable facsimile for my bookbag, thus there is a lot of stress I feel when I do not have my book bag with me. I mention the concept of a facsimile because I taught myself a little trick with my watch. I also feel a high level of anxiety if I do not have my watch on my wrist when I am outside. That is a quirk, but it seriously impacts my day. It can ruin my day. But what I’ve found that is if I have a necklace with small beads—which I have access to aplenty—and wrap that around my wrist when I forget my watch, it soothes the OCD-based anxiety of not having the watch.

But with the bookbag, nothing. If I do not have it, I am in a fog of anxiety. You should note that I completely and fully understand how irrational this mindset is. But my brain is the driver, I am the passenger.

I can’t trace this back to anything from my childhood, or any event in my life that would trigger this from a nurture standpoint. So I chalk this one up to brain wiring along with a host of other things.

That is not the highest anxiety I feel with my simple (simple to others) bookbag. I don’t drive. That, again, is for another article. But It has everything to do with anxiety. I refuse to drive, and am lucky to be in walking distance from the grocery store and pharmacy—pretty much the only shopping I do1. So I find myself and my bookbag travelling to these stores a lot. Every time I enter a store with my bookbag, I have a very high level of anxiety that I am going to be seen as someone who wishes to commit theft. I mean, I have a bookbag! A part of a thief’s kit!

And this is where OCD comes in, and this is an important part of learning about what OCD is. I not only fear security guards and employees looking at me as if I wish to steal things (I do,) but it goes beyond that in my mind. I actually act out, in my thoughts, stealing items and placing them in my bookbag. I have never physically done this ever2. I don’t steal, but I cannot get the thought out of my head when I am in a store. I feel the compulsion to steal. I don’t want to, I feel it is right to. OCD is very much about compulsions to make things right. My brain feels placing items in my bookbag is what I should do. And the thought never leaves my head until I am out of the store. After which, I think nothing of it.

So there ya go, part of my brain operates on its own, I merely do my best to get in front of it and stop me from doing things the other part of my brain knows is wrong.


1 If you want to know a little more about me, I live an extremely simple life. My money situation is perfectly manageable. I’d like more, and I join 323.1 million other Americans with that wish. But for no real reason. I do not want stuff. I’ve been there. It’s not exciting.  [BACK]

2 Fine, I once stole a pack of baseball cards from a store at age 10. I was with my mom and sisters, but went off on my own and stole them. I got caught. I had to give back the baseball cards and was kicked out of the store. My mom and sisters never found out (I waited outside for them, feigning illness.) Well, I guess they’ll find out when they read this footnote.  [BACK]