I am driving home from town for the third time today, and I am seething. The first journey was to the computer shop, the second journey was to the computer shop with my old computer to exchange it, and the third was to get the charging cable I had forgotten in order to make the exchange. All in all, I have tried to buy a new computer three times today, and I am seeing red about it. I want to scream and shout and kill plants and kick pigeons. I am moving into the place beyond light frustration into genuine, OCD fuelled rage where I feel like I need to rip all my skin off. Why? Because this will be the third time I have visited the shop, and that means it will be the third time I have paid for parking. I will have spent £3, and for that, I am in a tailspin of fury. This is just one of the delights of Obsessive Compulsive Behaviour.
I get annoyed easily. I am terrible in queues, I hate it when plans change, I don’t like altered train services, altered bus services, bad traffic conditions and I take personal affront when the weather does not behave in the manner predicted by my iphone. (“How DARE it rain? How DARE it?! I wore PUMPS today!”) However, my irritability is just one side of the brutal coin of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and on the other side of the coin there is crippling anxiety. I’ve been going through therapy (those of you who read this blog will know it’s not for the first time) to try and get a grip on what it means to live my life by the constant turning of this coin. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been helpful. Now my therapist wants to make it even harder. I am hoping this means it will also become even more helpful.
I have been challenged to do something that confronts my over-control mindset every single day. This might be little things or big things. For example, in the last two days, I have parked my car in the “wrong” spot and I have put my yoga mat in the “wrong” space. Agonizingly, I had already put my yoga mat in my normal spot in the class. I was then gripped with a sense of obligation to challenge myself and had to excruciatingly pick up my mat, move my mat, pick up my stuff, move my stuff, and sit back down in the new spot. I hated every moment, and the view of the instructor was much worse than my usual spot, but I did it! As you can tell, I have a very pronounced sense of “right” and “wrong.” Like a lot of people with over control tendencies, my life is governed by an intricate set of rules that this day-by-day challenge will hopefully give me an in-depth awareness of. The whole idea is that by breaking these small rules, challenging myself repeatedly in ways that are non-threatening, I will eventually be able to challenge myself in the areas that I find incredibly threatening. Food, for example, and showing emotional vulnerability.
I don’t know if this is the key, but to keep myself accountable and to keep it fun, I am keeping a daily log on Instagram and Twitter called “These are a few of my least favourite things!” I wish I could say that the public nature of this little project is merely due to my heartfelt desire to reach other people and raise awareness, but honestly, a big part of this is my personal determination to prove to my therapist that I did it. By making him look through every. Single. Photo. Now, who wishes they had set me easier therapy homework? Uh huh. He does. HE DOES.
I am also tentatively hopeful, quietly excited, that perhaps this experiment will help me push the boundaries of myself in not just painful ways, but positive ways. Maybe the heavy chains of my routines and rules will be broken and give me the freedom to do those things I have felt too afraid to do. We will see.
So follow along with the journey! You can find me @elphreads on insta, and @EmmaLouisePH on Twitter. To get you in the mood, here’s a picture of a car and a yoga mat. It might not look like much to you, but I promise, it matters a great deal to me.