OCD Illustrated

A picture is worth a thousand words, right?

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This is my window sill covered in cinnamon.

After it rained, some ants tried to scout out my kitchen. I found them early in their explorations when they were beginning to come in at the back door and window. We have a little mud room out there where we keep the recycling, and the kitchen sink is right by the inner door too, so all those yummy recycling and dirty dish smells waft out and invite the ants in.

I saw them in the window first, and cinnamon is supposed to deter them, so I sprinkled a thin line in the crack of the window sill. That drove a few that had collected in the crack out into the open, and that is when I went ballistic with my cinnamon shaker flinging pie-scented murder all over the place.

I painted around the doors and inside the recycle bin with clove oil. They hate that too. That held the little bastards off until I ran out and got some terro traps.

Type A Personality Crisis

I’ve had this low-level anxiety permeating my life for the past few months, and I thought it was all a normal part of moving and starting a new job. Then I had an epiphany this morning that helped explain this sense of unease that has been following me about since December or so.

Here it is: I suck at my job.

And that’s mostly OK. I’m still pretty new at it.

Several people I’ve worked with in the past had even told me this would happen. I’d check back in with someone after they had been gone a while from the little circle of hell we’d shared, and they would say “Well, I still feel like I don’t know what I’m doing some days.” I’d think of course, a whole new job.

But it didn’t really register that I would just flat-out not know what I was doing for any length of time. I had been at my old job for so long that the work was never really the challenge; it was the slow political death by a thousand papercuts from above. When the work did become a challenge, it was because I was doing extra work from various people who had fled the scene. So all I had to say over a missed deadline was “We’re down 4 people” or whatever.

Now I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, to be honest.

I’m learning, but there’s a lot to learn, and for every time I feel like I have something figured out, I make a mistake. I know all of this is normal but mistakes aren’t good for my OCD. I didn’t do myself any favors staying in my old job for so long. I was clinging to that lovely level of stability that comes from avoiding leaving a situation until moss grows over you and you’re so used to the dysfunction that any other environment seems completely alien.

Now I feel like I’m bumblefucking around in space as an untrained astronaut. Missing the fact that I only have three hours of air left to focus on trying to eat m&ms in zero gravity, or something. I SUCK AT THIS.

I am glad I realized this, because it’s going to take time and a lot of effort to be good at what I do again. I need to chill out and give myself a break.

I’ve had a lot going on lately, too: everyone’s been sick, and the landlord let a dog family move in next door after all (he’s playing amateur allergist; he told us THIS dog would be hypoallergenic because it’s…old and slow?) so we are probably going to have to move this summer.

I’ll figure it out. I may even need to switch up my medication or find a therapist in my new city.

Sometimes it just takes me a little too long to catch a clue when I’ve let my anxiety levels creep up to “affecting life quality” levels.

Heading into a tailspin

I got some bad news yesterday about our living situation. We moved into our current rental, which is a duplex, in October. The family on the other side were just moving out, so it’s been empty since then. Our original plan was to rent at least a year, and ideally until early 2019.

Two things happened yesterday: The landlord was having some work done on the other side, and it filled our side up with smoke. When he came to investigate (because it was so bad Dan thought our furnace might be out again), the landlord informed us that a nice couple with a large hairy dog is moving next door.

I love dogs, but we can’t live with them. Dan has severe allergies. If it were a poodle or a husky or one of the more hypoallergenic dogs, we might have a chance, but according to the landlord the dog is a mix of two breeds that are more in the “deadly to allergic people” category. Continue reading “Heading into a tailspin”

I save lives*

One of the benefits of having OCD is that I’m reliable. I make plans. I make plans to make plans. I write things down, revise, cross out, and rewrite, and that’s just to go to the damn grocery store. I have plans A, B, C and sometimes nearly to Z if I’m stressing over something. Also, I’m prepared for nearly anything. I have a rotating line-up of doomsday scenarios running through my head on a daily basis, and for every “what if?” there’s usually a plan. Because I can’t get past the “what if” unless there’s a plan.

I know, I said it was a benefit. I’m getting there. Over-explaining is another problem I have.

Sometimes I honestly feel vindicated when shit happens, like I know it’s coming and I’m just waiting. I should, too, because I’ve had some crazy luck. The number of car wrecks alone is pretty impressive (over a dozen; thankfully none lately – *knocking on wood*). If I count getting the change robbed out of my unlocked car recently as a “burglary,” I’ve had five of those now. Times my husband almost died because of his allergies: at least five. Once I was even attacked by a squirrel. Every time something shitty happens, it confirms my notion that the universe is out to get me. But don’t worry, I’m not really that paranoid. Just pessimistic, because I think the universe is out to get us all.

So that’s the good part.

No really, I’m great in a crisis. Two examples: once I was in a car wreck with my husband, and we both got knocked out. As I was swimming in and out of consciousness I stuffed the keys, his wallet, and the cell phone all into my purse (which is large, because it carries first-aid items and talismans in addition to the usual wallet, hand cream, chapstick, bug spray, sun screen, notepad, pen, and phone) and then I tied my purse to my arm before I passed out and got loaded into the ambulance. When he woke up thinking his wallet and everything was sitting in a junkyard and we were going to have to send someone over to try to find it, I told him I got it all. No worries! Because I worry for myself and everyone I know!

The other example is the time he nearly died from a food allergy in D.C. After years of traveling alone for business, I decided to take him and our three-year-old daughter with me so they could explore the capital while I attended a conference. He even had tickets to the White House, and Obama was still president. On the morning of Day Two I woke up to choking noises, and he was writing me notes in crayon (red, wouldn’t you know) on the hotel notepad to “CALL 911.” Apparently he’d eaten something the night before and had a delayed reaction. When he woke up with his throat swelling, he tried to take an Allegra but things escalated quickly and he was about to lose his airway. I had to call 911 and get him downstairs. I had to wake our daughter up and put clothes on her (and me) and get wallets with IDs and insurance cards and snacks for later and I also got her handheld video game because I knew she’d be bored. While they loaded Dan up in the ambulance, I had five minutes before we were all transported, and I slung half that hotel room in my pockets and purse. The only thing I forgot was Dan’s coat.

When the shit-storm does arrive, I’m always the one with the umbrella. The problem is, I want to carry it around even when the sun is shining and then people start to look at me like I’m crazy.

 

*A quote from Jack Black as Georgie the Orderly in one of my favorite films of all time, Jesus’ Son