Dug Up from the Archives

I had an acute episode of feeling weird yesterday. I know, that’s not a very specific description of the condition. I don’t know what my bloody problem was, apart from lacking a will to do anything, including breathing.

I fixed it though when it occurred to me to pleasure my OCD (aka CDO) and dig around in my computer archives with the apparent purpose to organise them. It was really an emotional displacement because everything about me, including my archives, are well organised already. Except it’s not perfect, so here you go.

What I dug up was shocking. That is, boring to anyone but me, who was genuinely surprised and sometimes severely shocked at my own paraphernalia. I couldn’t even remember that I ever created some of the content I found, but unless my cat has a covert hobby, it must’ve been me.

Among other long-forgotten and hence basically non-existent stuff, I found: unexpectedly good poems in Czech (in a folder labelled creative writing, so I must’ve authored them); love letters (what the actual fuck?); something written in German (I do recall I studied German but no longer speak the language); and photos, a lot of photos.

The ones in the gallery were originally posted on Flickr, before I deleted my account after not using it for years. (You get the sequence of events here, right?) They were taken with my beloved red compact camera, which I no longer own and wonder whom I gave it to. Because I want it back.

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I’m a Hoarder

What’s the biggest fear in your life? That you become like your parents, right? Well, I’m unhappy to announce that it happened. I became my mother. Not literally as in literally, but literally as in figuratively.

My mother is an old unpleasant lady—truth to be told—and she’s a hoarder. She’s been like this ever since I can remember. On her defence, the huge ugly multilevel cubical structure where we lived—and which we called somewhat inaccurately a family home—was a hoarder’s wet dream and ultimate temptation.

We had two garages—for one car—several cellars and multiple fucking pantries. Or cold rooms? What do you call the cool closet which is a room without windows primarily not intended for the storage of dead bodies but for the storage of food, though the usage is up to the user’s discretion? The cold room would be accurate.

So we had these cold rooms like we lived in a primitive agrarian society, grew our own food and had to store whole smoked pigs if we wanted to eat in winter. Actually, we did store cut-up pigs, in all seasons, in one of our multiple freezers.

The pantries were stashed with expired long-keeping food—but not long-keeping enough—pickled veggies, conserved fruits and jams. No one ate that shit, so it got periodically thrown out and replaced by freshly home-made batches.

Also, my mother grew up in the post-WWII austerity years. So let’s say that her food hoarding is an understandable deviation. Tell me this, though. Why do I hoard food? For fuck’s sake? Huh?

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Irrelevant picture—I hoard these too

I realised I had a problem when I brought in groceries the other day and realised there were too much groceries in the cabinet—I downscaled and own no pantry, thanks god—for it to fit more groceries. Okay, what is happening here? Why hoard food?? Am I insane???

Well, I am insane, officially certified insane, but I never knew it was so bad. What am I stocking up for like it’s a cold war? Though it is cold and there’s always war somewhere, so by a certain logic—if flawed—this is indeed a cold war era.

Am I stashing food in case I die, or what? The last time I checked, dead people didn’t eat. Except when they were undead, in which case they would eat live people. An eventuality I’m pitifully unprepared for.

But seriously. It’s not like I live in the middle of nowhere—well, I do, but there is a Tesco even. It’s not like I don’t have a car—well, I don’t, but the Tesco is within a walking distance, you know, when you set out with sunrise and are lucky, you’re back by midnight. Kidding. Also, it’s not like I have kids to feed.

I assume that my food hoarding is a pathological personality trait which reflects my obsessive urge to be in control, be prepared for any scenario and always expect that an unspecified disaster and gloom and doom—and no food—are impending. What do you make out of it?

I Have a New Psychiatrist (That’s My Life Now)

My old psychiatrist retired (probably to devote himself full-time to his drinking hobby) and was replaced by a new psychiatrist. Unlike the old guy, the new lady is less than a hundred and doesn’t appear to have a drinking problem (good for her).

I bear no grudge against her (yet), but as per usual, I’ve been quite passive-aggressive at our first date. She surely hated me at first sight, which is only right and mutual because I hate people by default. This might explain my passive-aggressive tendencies.

My new psych person had the old psych person’s office completely cleared, so now she practises in a large and mostly empty room. I’m scared of open spaces, so here you go. Also, she brought in a new table and positioned it in the wrong place. I’m OCD, so here you go again.

I tried hard to conduct myself, so I didn’t point out that she ruined everything for me. (She even moved the nurse’s station to the wrong wall, and nothing will ever be the same.) We had the following largely disappointing conversation.

Psych: So, how have you been feeling?
Me: (What I thought: That’s a question beneath your profession. If I were feeling anything else than poorly, I wouldn’t be here, right? Elementary, doctor.) What I said: Poorly. (What I didn’t add: But I accept that it is what it is and I let it go, as my positive affirmations have me believe.)

Psych (staring at me): You look anxious.
Me (staring in a wall behind her): (What I thought: Right, that’s because I have anxiety, just check my bloody chart, duh.) What I said: Yes.

Psych: What about we try increasing the antidepressant dose?
Me: (What I thought: Whatever. It’s not like I’m a doctor. Oh, wait. I am a doctor. Whew.) What I said: Okay.

Psych: And what do you do?
Me: (What I thought: Ow fuck, now we’re going to chit-chat? As a doctor, you should know that it’s not what I do but how I deal with it. Also, don’t try to outsmart me. You’re no match for my intellectual arrogance.) What I said: Work from home.

Psych: You don’t talk much, right?
Me: (Nothing. Why state the obvious.)
Psych: OK, so see you in a month.
Me: (If I live to see the next month.) OK.

I guess I’m not a very amiable person. Actually, I’m sure of that because I spend a lot of time with myself and I hate every second. I’m such an annoying little smartass. Currently on more antidepressants than before, so we’ll see.

I’ve Been Actively Anti-OCD Today

It’s not often that I try to go against my OCD. After all, I have more urgent issues to struggle with. But when I do go anti-OCD, it’s in the weirdest ways. You’d never believe what one can OCD about. For example, a computer game.

The only game I ever purchased is Age of Empires. Yes, the 1990s game. The idea of the game is that you build a town and defeat your enemy. I don’t care about the fight (see above, I have enough to fight with) but I care about my virtual city immensely.

So my idea of this game is that I set the difficulty to the easiest level and spend the game time carefully aligning my town buildings, producing a predetermined number of villagers and distributing them equally among various tasks.

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OCD style

Mind you, there must be an equal proportion of male and female villagers. The total number of each gender and the total number of villagers respectively must be divisible by two. Female villagers must not be assigned strenuous tasks, like ore mining or wood gathering. Male villagers must not be farmers, fishermen or gatherers.

Also, soldiers must come in even numbers. The army must consist of only one type of soldier, though extra siege weapons are allowed. Should anything go wrong at the first attempt—a building is misaligned or villagers aren’t divided into two equally sizeable groups by gender—the unit must be deleted and replaced as applicable.

Today I ended up with one extra female villager. That was a bugger. The villager insisted that she feels to be a woman, hence I couldn’t pretend they were transgender. That pissed me off and, against all idiosyncratic rules I created for the game, I assigned the poor woman to gold digging, along with three males.

I didn’t enjoy the game and resigned it after a few minutes. This might or might not have to do with my OCD. I’m pleased with myself because I’ve been actively anti-OCD; but I’m somewhat upset that nothing holds my interest these days. I used to play this game often and with pleasure, and now I can’t find anything that I’d marginally enjoy. So please excuse me, I’ll try my hand at reading for a change.

My Blog Is Freaking Me Out

I get freaked out easily. (Thanks, anxiety.) I get startled by my phone beeping (yes, I realise it’s a common feature of phones), by the cat sleep-whining (I never know whether she’s having a good dream or a bad dream and whether I should wake her up), by a car door being slammed (which is all the fucking time because I live next to a frequented post office).

I’m currently freaking out about my blog. Not that there’s anything wrong with it (well, yeah, it’s all wrong, but that’s old news) but things are getting misaligned on it. My footer widget area couldn’t take any more of my Instagram photos and decided to throw them up all over the place. This is very bad. My OCD disapproves strongly. I know it’s probably one of these things that get fixed on its own, but uh. Look:

 

I broke the internet

That’s not all though! I have a huge request for you. If you’re not following me, please don’t  do it. If you are following me, please don’t unfollow me (I know you’re tempted but pretty please, mind my mental health). My follower counter reached 2K, and it is a good number. I like the look of it. So if you would, just don’t mess with it, ok? Because it looks so nice. Makes my OCD almost forget the Instagram widget fuckup. Almost. Look how pretty 2K is:

What I Hated the Least Today 253/365: Decision Paralysis

253
The road not taken
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
—Robert Frost, “The Road Not Taken”

Decision paralysis is officially a thing. Trust me. I read it on the internet.

Seriously, though, I read a lot of psychology books and articles these days, and I also conduct hands-on research on live human subjects. One subject, myself. I’ve always had decision paralysis but didn’t realise it was decision paralysis. I just thought I was a weirdo and that the nature of my weirdness was unique. Apparently, I am just as unique as everyone else—hence, not at all.

Decision paralysis is a crippling condition when you can’t decide. For me, it gets worse when my depression and/or anxiety get better—I mean, when they get the better of me, when they flourish and I therefore don’t. Deciding consumes a lot of mental energy. Also a lot of time. It’s usually pretty frustrating and doesn’t necessarily lead to a decision being made.

In a research experiment, it was found that the more choices you have, the less likely you are to choose something. Research subjects were offered two or three choices, and they picked one relatively easily. When they had a dozen or so choices, however, they more often ended up not choosing anything at all because the number of possibilities was too overwhelming. I so get it.

The other day I was with a friend and asked her to wait for me a minute while I get something at the chemist’s. I needed one thing, shampoo. When I located the shampoo shelf, I nearly fainted because there was an array of dozen variants from my preferred brand (the cheapest one). I clutched the shelf and slowly descended in a yogic squat to examine the options. It made my head spin. It took me forever to pick the blue one. My friend was exasperated. I objected that I wasn’t fucking horrible, as she suggested, but just had a case of decision paralysis. She wasn’t impressed.

One practical psychology book I read and was hugely impressed by proposes to limit decision paralysis with to-do-today lists. It’s a modified to-do list, except you only put on it what you have to do on a particular day. You should colour-code tasks which must be done, which may be done and which don’t have to be done. The tasks should be spread randomly all across the page. OK, now, WTF. I hate randomness, and I find it obvious that if it’s supposed to work, you have to write down your tasks in the order in which you want to do them.

I sometimes use the method, but not often, because I’m already super organised. I mean, I have a regular schedule for each day and I stick to it. When I can’t stick to it, I get extremely anxious. You can’t mess with your rituals when you’re OCD. I suspect I even unconsciously brush my teeth in a prescribed number of strokes in a given order.

Now that you know that decision paralysis is real, do you have it and if so, what do you do about it?

What I Hated the Least Today 252/365: Shit I Do While Asleep

Suspicious Search History

Yesterday I took a sleeping pill and didn’t go to sleep. I don’t know what I was thinking. I probably wasn’t.

I was also acutely anxious and was OCDing, this time about my blog. I’ve been fiddling with the blog for hours on end in the last few days instead of doing something productive. If you’re looking around to see the changes I made, don’t, I haven’t made any substantial. As I say, I wasn’t being productive. I tried probably all the themes in the theme showcase from the last two years and also searched for a new avatar and header or background picture.

I’m totally obsessing about a new blog design these days. I suspect it’s because I’m escaping from a work project which I’m scared of. It’s highly inefficient and idiotic of me.

However, I took the sleeping pill and sat back down to the computer. I was doing something but I was asleep. Soon my vision became so blurred that I couldn’t read anything. I remembered I took the sleeping pill and wisely concluded I should just as well go to sleep. I had a huge trouble trying to switch the laptop off, since I couldn’t read anything on the screen. Then I was stumbling around like I was intoxicated, which I was, in a way, and I found it hilarious. Whatever they add in sleeping pills these days.

The next morning I thought I’d check out what the fuck I was even doing on the computer when sleeping. I was really hoping I didn’t delete my blog entirely or reset my laptop to factory settings. I went to search history and it appears I was trying and failing to search for designs. My queries included, literally, pattern for heade, pattern to j and pattern wallpaer. It’s curious that Google actually returned pretty much what I had in mind. I seriously should get my shit together.

What I Hated (the Least) Today 251/365: A Week Off Meds

Due to the unforeseen circumstance of my bloody psychiatrist going on a bloody holiday, it so happened that I ran out of the meds that keep my brain from imploding. It was a fun week. One more, and I probably would have ended up behind bars, whether of prison or of a mental asylum. I managed to replenish my pill supplies today and this very success is already making me feel saner.

While off meds, I had a number of epiphanies, altered consciousness experiences and curious meltdowns, some of which I don’t care to share even with a professional lest I should be institutionalised for life. Here are some of the more harmless ones.

Discovery #1: Lucid Dreaming

I thought I had weird dreams when on sleeping pills, but without them, trying to sleep got so weird that I no more knew what I dreamt and what I didn’t. If lucid dreaming is about you being aware that you dream and being able to direct your dream, then I had it. This one was an extremely entertaining case because in my dream, I was a hot guy and was configuring myself, adding an ab here and there, choosing my facial features, hair style… I can’t believe I picked a man bun, but on my defence, I immediately took it back and went for short bed hair.

On which I was a girl again and gave birth to twins, who looked exactly like hotdogs. The boy I named Richard, the girl I wanted to call Victoria, but the father, whose identity remained mysterious even to me, didn’t think so. The poor girl ended up being Unnamed. Funnily enough, these two names are the exact ones I actually picked in real life when I was young and thought I’d want kids. When I realised I didn’t want kids, I named Richard my car (when I had a car) and Victoria my tortoise (when I had a tortoise).

Discovery #2: OCD

My OCD is normally within the limits of cute quirks, but it went a bit wild when unchecked by pills. I had a legit breakdown over, quite ironically, my zen meditation schedule, which I printed out and pinned on my whiteboard, but couldn’t get the sheet align with the other papers that were already there. Besides spending time aligning shit all over the flat, I had a range of highly interesting compulsive impulses coming to me – that’s when your mind goes blank and you can only think of doing one particular thing, which is usually something pretty dumb.

On this note, I should stop watching TV series entirely because I watched an episode of Sense8, which was perfectly harmless, except for one unfortunate incident when a minor character slit her wrists. Now, that’s a huge trigger for me. Surprisingly, when people are shooting other people on TV, I have absolutely no urge to imitate them, but when someone slits their wrists on TV, I can’t help myself wanting to try it at home. I have however prepared for this pet peeve compulsive thought of mine in advance when I had both my wrists tattooed. I naturally don’t want to cut my designs.

Discovery #3: Am I Hallucinating or What?

No, I’m not hallucinating, but I seriously thought I was. It was when I went to the balcony to smoke and saw a small ape from the Planet of the Apes standing at the table at the common backyard and staring at me. Well, I decided I was just hallucinating, why not, after all, it’s an interesting new experience, right, so I calmly sat down and lit my cigarette. When I looked again, the ape was gone. When I looked yet again, there was a bunch of kids hiding behind the table. The ape-like kid should probably have a haircut soon. And the bloody kids should stop fucking with my mind. It’s not like it’s not fucked up enough already.

To conclude on the same cheery note, here’s a song that I currently can’t get out of my head (especially the very upbeat line “The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had”).