Monday, March 30, 2015
YOU DON'T KNOW!
"YOU DON'T KNOW!"
That's one of my favorite phrases. It's also sort of my Hail Mary desperation statement. When all my logical (or illogical) reasons for why I'm scared, anxious, worried, what-have-you have run out, I usually end with "BUT YOU DON'T KNOW!!!"
Andrea has created the perfect retort: "No I don't know, but neither do you." Boom. She always roasts me with that one.
Anyone with anxiety will tell you that most of the anxiety comes from what we don't know. What could happen. What if. And that's hard. But it's even harder if you have OCD. Because not only do not know what could happen within the reasonable, rational world, but you can also dream up eleventy million implausible, maybe impossible, totally ridiculous things to also worry about.
I think it's important to note that we/I do not sit around thinking of ridiculous scenarios that COULD happen just to annoy people around us. Those things just pop into our heads that seem just as likely as any of the "real" sort of things you could/should worry about. Is it likely that the stranger walking behind me at a restaurant will all of a sudden grab my head and snap my neck and kill me? Highly unlikely...but you never know! And the more I worry about it the more likely it seems that it could happen. That's the main difference between people with OCD and everyone else. Other people might have that thought but then say "Oh, that's silly" and laugh it off and continue with their day. People with OCD might know that it's silly, but it's no laughing matter. And the more we try to NOT think about it, the more we think about it, and then the more it becomes real life. Believe me, if I could stop these ridiculous thoughts from a) entering my head and b) leaving quickly if they do come in, I would be a much happier person! But the problem with having OCD is that your brain conveniently disposes of logic and reason for you. Even if you can say "I know this is silly and unlikely to happen" the small part of your brain where OCD lives whispers "But what if it does?" and then you spend time quieting the OCD and in the process obsessing over why it might be right. It's exhausting.
The best thing about having a completely non-anxious, calm, steady partner is that she can act as a nice port in the harbor of crazy town that is my brain. When I come up with a particularly ridiculous "what if" she can respond that it would have never occurred to her that that could happen, but yes, maybe it could but it's super unlikely. There's something immensely calming about her responses. She doesn't act like I'm ridiculous, so then I don't feel shame and embarrassment -- which often heighten worries for me -- but she considers it like it's a serious potential and then says it's unlikely to happen. And I'm much more likely to believe her because I know her brain is more rational than mine. And the fact that it has or never would occur to her often makes me think "Hmm, that probably means it's really unlikely to happen or she would have thought about it." Not always...sometimes I say "WELL IT'S A GOOD THING I WORRY ABOUT EVERYTHING OR WE MIGHT DIE 12 TIMES TODAY!" And in her steady, reassuring way she says "You're right. It's a good thing we have you to keep us safe. And a good thing we have me to make sure we don't become agoraphobics and keep us moving forward." Ah, yin and yang.