Keeping a diary has caused me problems in the past. I would have to record everything . . . and I mean everything! Each unique experience that day offered along with the obviously unnecessary log of every exercise I had done at the gym, accounting for every penny I spent and a note of every TV programme watched. I have a literal treasure chest of notebooks and diaries at the foot of my bed. It looks like a prop from The Pirates of the Caribbean movies, full to the brim with the scrawling’s of a madman. I knew it was illogical to record the entire minutia but I felt compulsed to do it.
That was several years ago before I was diagnosed with OCD, and didn’t understand its vicious cycle. It’s a cruel monster that grants you temporary rest bite from anxiety if you obey the compulsions. A backdraft then feeds the flames as they burn more intensely for the next round. I learned the best thing to do is take note of the fire and not react to it. Your head burns with more vigour briefly and then it starts to subside.
That was then and this . . . well this is now. My OCD has morphed to fixate on other things. Same flames different day. Tonight I am sitting wrapped up cosy in my duvet, with Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and Bach surrounding me. I relax further as I soak in the music, warm up my fortress of sheets, puff away on my electronic cigarette (no real ones this year!) and slurp my decaf brew from my giant Simpsons mug.
This massive pot has seen me through some tough times over the years, its identical twin brother is somewhere in the Penglais Woods above Aberystwyth. I trotted off the main footpaths into the trees clutching it in one hand, while the other held my mobile to my ear, as I embarked on the penultimate conversation with my first long-term girlfriend. I lost a lover and a great cup in the forest that day. It lies somewhere beneath a log off the beaten track (the cup not the ex-lover).
As I calm, I realise I could write an essay on my times with this one mug alone, but I won’t bore you with it. I will mention that every time I look at it (at least five brews a day) I hear my first year flat mate Jack say in his Bristolian accent “fancy another homer”, or quite simply “homer time”. In our University revision world Homer became synonymous with giant tankard of tea.
I started writing this evening as I was feeling very restless. I have been flitting between activities all day, although I have finished nothing. This makes me feel like I have a lot to get done, like a small weight on my chest if I am not doing something productive.
I’m aware of this sensation pretty much all of the time as my brain hardly ever switches off. I rarely find myself in the moment, always thinking of what needs to be done next. Only when I do chill do I realise that most of my “needs” aren’t “musts”.
The last few days have been amazing mind. I have spent time with great friends and been looking to the future. As I glance around my den I am aware I have every physical possession I could ever want (except a new button for one of my tweed jackets and a one man tent :s). The only thing I desire is non-tangible, inner peace. However I do have it often now and the refractory periods between the doses are getting smaller. As I cast my mind over the last few days I know I have been extremely happy.
After a low always comes a high, the trick is nailing down the hatches and riding out the storm. It hasn’t really been a low I have experienced recently, more of an epic high spilling over into psychosis. I have been rushing around trying to solve everything, feeling like I haven’t got long left to live. I have touched heaven and passed through hell. Now I have settled back into purgatory realising I still have a considerable amount of time in this world and I don’t need to achieve everything all at once.
I truly see life as a gift now, precious and I don’t want to waste a second of it. This all feels like a bonus that I wasn’t supposed to have and I am excited for every other day I am alive. I still feel a bit shaky stepping forward, but I can see my future is bright.
Plans are forming again and I can’t wait to frolic my way through a whole new set of adventures. My latest episode has made me reconsider my journey to South East Asia and visiting my brother in the South Pacific. It is something I can still plan to do someday, just perhaps not tomorrow.
I have plenty of chances to test the waters and myself as I embark on a sixteen week coping skills course and I have been planning various escapades with my supportive mates.
With my now annual trip to Aberdaron on the cards along with a visit to my University town of Aberystwyth, a trip to Scotland and an sixty odd mile walk from Bangor to Chester it looks like an exciting few months.
Never a dull moment in my OCD World.