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Problem Solving, Act I

Here's a post that isn't about DT. It's lengthy, so I broke it up into two ideas. The second part will come in the next blog post. So on to it...

In real irl I am quite the introvert. I've always enjoyed keeping to myself and being left to my own devices. Tinkering and experimenting, only stopping when the outside world interferes in its many ways, sometimes infuriating ways. I'm sure those of you with a similar nature can relate. On a side tangent, when growing up, I had a very not so mild case of ADHD. Not that crap people make up these days, the real thing, to the point where doctors wanted to diagnose me with low grade autism and stick me in some special class... to which my mom said "Fuck that!" She was having none of that. The end result was my mom got her way... as she usually did. This of course doesn't stop the disorder itself. I was practically hanging to the ceiling in school. I wasn't always disruptive, but it was hard for me to stay in one place and listen to a lesson on something that my mother had already taught me or encouraged me to discover on my own through reference. However, being disruptive went against how I was brought up, so an alternative had to be made.

Like many people in that same scenario, I went into my own world in my head. Of course this sort of behavior has a lot of negative side effects, so it needed to be stopped. My mom did what I feel is far more effective than any drug on the market. She worked with me. It wasn't easy and it took awhile, but instead of sticking me on some legal form of narcotic that pharmaceutical companies drive down the throats of kids everywhere, she personally worked me through these issues. There was only one short time that she had me take Ritalin, and that was when a huge change occurred. We had moved and I didn't handle change very well back then, as I'm sure many kids don't. She didn't have me on it for very long, if I remember right, it was roughly 4 months, and I didn't take it much anyway. I hated taking it because I had to swallow the pills, and I hated having to swallow anything like that. They had a disgusting taste, so chewing wasn't desired. The next best thing was to pretend to take them and hide them later. My mom caught onto that pretty quick, so eventually I had to develop other methods of avoiding that pill. I remember a few months after she had taken me off of that drug, she had been doing some housecleaning, and found the motherlode of pills under the microwave.

Off of the side tangent, and into another, I've got a nice case of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). I've never been diagnosed with it, but some years back, I had started to notice that I shared quite a few qualities of this disorder. I did the thing I usually do when I begin to take some interest in something... I researched it. I did quite a bit of research and found that I really didn't need to overpay someone to tell me I had this. OCD gets in the way of everyday activities. I've heard people say they 'enjoy' it, and while I do find there are some semi 'humorous' aspects to it, it's a hindrance. Since I realized that it's a mental disorder, I felt the best way to combat it was to learn more about it.

To break down OCD in a simply way, it's an irrational fear that something negative will happen if specific actions are not performed in specific ways. For example, when I travel on sidewalks, I always step over the cracks leading with my right leg. If I didn't do this, something bad could happen later. I might get hit by a car, or a lamp post will fall on me, the neighborhood could catch fire. SOMETHING will go wrong all because I did not step over this sidewalk crack properly. This is a real thought I have had before, which of course is completely bazonkers, it's all irrational. Even when I first started identifying these behaviors being linked to very silly things, it was hard to break myself out of still performing the 'required' actions. I'd tell myself that it's silly, but a voice in the back of my head would tell me that these rational thoughts breaking through are actually the irrational ones and that if I don't continue doing things the way I have been, very bad things will happen.

Do you see the problem here? There were many things I did differently out of some irrational fear of otherworldly retaliation. It was indeed a hindrance to every part of my life, especially my social life. Knowledge is power and perseverance is a great ally. I started to remember back when I mom worked with me on my ADHD problems and some of the steps we went through to work through that without legally prescribed narcotics as well as my own way of handling things. Testing boundaries and mechanics is always something I've loved doing. I began to look at these irrational fears in a different way. I was curious in experimenting whether something bad would happen if I had suddenly stopped performing these 'required' actions. I couldn't just stop, so I had to approach it differently. If I was simply experimenting with these seemingly uncontrollable forces, there was the possibility at a lighter negative consequence. It wasn't the real thing, it was now a laboratory of sorts; a controlled environment, just in my head. This went on for a few weeks, testing the boundaries of these irrational fears I had. At first, I was worried, but... Turns out, nothing out of the ordinary went wrong. All the normal negative stimuli that were part of every day life were still there. I would periodically perform the actions that my fears would drive me to do, then stop, and test this process.

During this time, I continued to search for other cases of OCD to see other people's symptoms and how someone with an extreme case would handle it. More importantly, for me anyway, I wanted to know what the fears themselves were and the actions people took to prevent them from occurring. After some time, I was finally able to tell myself to stop performing actions based on the irrational fears, not out of experimentation, but because I had proven to myself that these fears were indeed irrational.

For anyone without this or any other similar disorder, this all sounds incredibly ridiculous, and you're right. But to someone with these issues, these fears are very real to them, and that's a major problem. There's a difference between thinking 'Something bad may happen if I do this' and 'Something bad WILL happen if I do this'. I think myself to be a fairly intelligent and analytical person and it got to even me. I'm not saying I'm this great awesome being, I'm simply saying this type of thing can affect anyone. Due to the nature of the disorder, the treatment needs to be tailored to how that person thinks. In my case, I was lucky enough to be able to self-treat it. Even today, I still have these irrational fears tied to actions, but it is quite easy to simply brush them off.

On a side note, OCD isn't the same for everyone and there's varying degrees of it. The above is not an absolute.


ano0maly said...

I just want to say that you're not the only one with a "mental" distress (perhaps not the same as yours, but similar). And thank you for sharing that post.

ZephyrBurst said...

Not a problem. In the future, I may bring up OCD again, but probably not as detailed. I'm still going to be careful with how it's presented.