Film ties

Sometimes, I see films that have a person as the main focus who struggles with certain situations, specifically socially.  (Current society likely would call them people with autism or asberger’s, or something of that sort.)  When I see these films, follow these people’s lives, I find it all too easy to fall into a similar pattern in my own life immediately after the film.  I think to myself, ‘But I am not like this.’  And yet the feeling is that the behavior is rather easy for me, as though I am at home in the behavior, in the odd habits.  I go back and forth between seeing how I am so comfortably ‘normal’ in the world and how I have intense emotions and ties within myself when I deal with certain OCD-related situations…, meaning I go back and forth between feeling like I am a ‘normal’, sane person and a crazy person.

And I always just end up being unconvinced of either one.

I’m a little bit of both, it seems.  And I think I’m okay with that.  I’m not sure that I like how it is – the OCD stuff can be utterly ridiculous even to me, and those situations are the worst, because they not only are intense feelings of needing to do something specific, but also the anger and frustration and embarrassment that I even have that feeling of need.  I think I might prefer having little “quirks”, instead… kind of like how most people likely think about my OCD stuff already, if they even notice any of it.  Yeah…, because currently, whenever I’m in a low rut, like tonight, after this film, if I think about the future, the feelings worsen.  I struggle to imagine ever finding a partner in life who possibly could accept, let alone embrace certain things that I do, certain things that currently feel as though I cannot not do.  But something in me has faith and trust, and drags me out of that rut… I will be okay.  I will be wonderful.  And I have no idea if this stuff will stay with me forever or not.  But, if they do, then I have many a plan for how to organize my life to minimize the struggle situations.

Post-a-day 2018

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OCD for the win! (for once)

Tonight, the OCD within me has done me some good – by going that extra step with various cleaning tasks tonight, preparing for guests, I earned some “serious roommate points” from my housemate. 😛

Win-win situation for us, and it was caused by my OCD.

OCD was a good thing for once!

Post-a-day 2018

A small, small slice of (my) OCD life

‘Will you open the compost bucket?  I need to put this in there, and I have it all over my hands already.’

Hesitation.  And inward tug of panic.  A sigh.  I walk over, and hold open the bucket, then close it after she has dispensed of the boiled vegetable (from dying eggs).

‘Can I wash my hands?’  She moves over a little, so that I can use the running water to wash my hands (with soap, of course).  The water is hot, but I’d rather get my hands washed than mess with anything else.

I only had to wash my one hand, so I air dry it easily enough, and wipe it on my clothes for good measure, as I walk away from the sink and kitchen.

‘Crap.  Will you just move the whole thing over here?  This is all just going to drip, if I try to move it over there.’

A shudder runs through my insides, and a brief sense of paralysis overcomes me.

‘Oh, come on.  I just cleaned it.’

‘That doesn’t matter,’ I snap.  ‘I’m still going to wash my hands again.’  And so I walk back over, move the bucket to the sink, where I know she wants it set, but about which I purposely do not think, and I step away again quickly.  She blocks the sink, and asks for more paper towels on the plate.  I can barely breathe, but I carefully pull off two layers of paper towels, without touching anything else but those specific paper towels, and I drop them on the plate.  As I rush away, she fusses that they aren’t placed correctly.  I almost begin to cry, but manage to return and to lay them the way she wants them lain.  Finally, as I can feel the panic and the tears brimming, she moves to the side, and allows me to wash my hands.

I leave immediately afterward, because I don’t want her asking/demanding my help her do anything more.  I need to get somewhere where I can breathe.  Somewhere clean.

The kitchen is a dirty place, and I dislike being in it.  Even thinking of it is a source of anxiety for me, so I do my best to avoid letting it spend any time in my mind.  Now, as I share this, tears caress the edges of my eyelids, and I swallow with difficulty, unintentionally doing my best to breathe as little and as lightly as possible.

But then I remember that I am somewhere clean right now, so it is okay to breathe.  I do breathe, and it is comforting.  I will pause from this for a moment, so that my heart rate can relax some.

…………..

I think my mom just thinks I’m being dramatic, or that I’m making a big deal out of nothing.  I know that, for her, it actually is nothing.  For me, however, while it can be nothing at times, it usually is one of the most overpowering, overwhelming things I have ever experienced.

I saw a Facebook Memories post from last year just recently, of the time I was trapped in the bathroom at school (work).  Well, one of the times, anyway.  I’d said something to the effect of, “When you’re stuck in the bathroom, because your OCD saw her not wash her hands.”  I eventually washed the door handle, then washed my own hands again, and then used toilet paper from the stash on the countertop (there are no paper towels) to open the door.  It took me a while to get to that point, though, because I was mentally battling the situation.

You see, it made no sense that I couldn’t open the door and walk out.  I regularly do so.  I know that most women in Japan tend not to use soap to wash their hands, and many do not even bother with the water at times.  So, whenever I grab the handle to walk out of the bathroom, I can easily assume that it is covered in whatever germs get on people’s hands in the bathroom.  It took me a long time to be able to push the thought enough out of my mind to be able to touch the handle ever, let alone often.  But, I typically succeed in not letting the thought arise, so long as the bathroom is reasonably clean-looking, and so long as I do not actually see someone not wash her hands and then grab the door to leave.

Once the thought has arisen, there is nothing I can do about it (most of the time, anyway).  If it doesn’t occur to me, I am completely fine grabbing that door handle and walking out.  I don’t even need a paper towel, the way plenty of women in the US tend to do.  So long as the thought doesn’t occur to me.  If, in any way, something draws my attention to the possibility of contamination of the door handle, I can not touch it.  Ideally, I stand and wait until someone else opens the door, and I sneak through then.  If, after a while, no one has come or gone, I’ll find a way using paper towel or toilet paper.  However, using toilet paper has its own issues, because the toilet paper comes from inside the bathroom stall, which is where I know hands are not clean, because that’s where they are exposed to the whole dirtiness of the bathroom in the first place.  And, if someone has touched the toilet paper already, well, then, those germs are on that paper.  not to mention if something else splashed onto the toilet paper or the dispenser, and made its way onto the toilet paper.  Plus, I’ll have to touch the stall door in order to get into the stall.  All of these are factors that require me to wash my hands again.

So, I have even gone into the stall I had just used (so the toilet seat is cleaned off still), carefully pulled off a full round of toilet paper, thrown it away or into the toilet, gone and washed my hands again, returned to the stall, pushed it open with my shoe sole, removed fresh toilet paper without interacting in any way with the dispenser itself (and not letting the toilet paper touch it either), backed up out of the stall, used the toilet paper to open the door (without touching any bit of the door, and not even through a single layer of the toilet paper), held the door with my shoe sole (ideally what had held open the stall door, so as to wipe it off), thrown away the toilet paper, and then rushed out the door.  I can’t take the paper with me that held open the door, because that’s too much time for the germs to have been able to travel on the paper that is still in my hands.  I must dispose of it at the bathroom door.

It doesn’t matter that the germs are either there or not, or that I sometimes grab the door handle and sometimes cannot.  No matter how I think it through, no matter how I reason with myself, if I think about it while in the bathroom, I quite likely will be unable to touch the door.  Period.  If I don’t think about it, I’ll grab the door fearlessly, and continue on happily in life.  (Unless, of course, I think about it as I am already opening the door, or have just walked out of the door.  In such a case, I usually’ll have to find a way to wash/sanitize my hand then, sometimes even by returning to the bathroom to do so, because I don’t much like hand sanitizer – it leaves the germs on you, even if they are now dead.)

And now I am going to stop sharing about this for now.  It is exhausting to consider, and it makes my chest tight.  As I mentioned, bringing it to mind is the trouble of it all.  When I don’t think about it, I’m fine and dandy, breathing freely.  So, I want to forget all of this before I next go to the bathroom, because I want to be able to use the bathroom with ease.  However, the fact that I am even considering how I want to forget this and why, that is possibly going to prove troublesome later, because I’ve already made the connection between the two in my head.  Now, when I go to the bathroom, I am likely to think of how I wanted to forget this before I next went there.  This is why I usually do not even allow myself to finish thoughts.  For example, this paragraph normally would have ended at that “And now I am going to stop”, because that would have been enough into the thought process of what I shared afterward.  I’ll share some more about other parts of the OCD stuff another time, though.  Just, I’m finished for now.  🙂

Post-a-day 2018

 

A brief step behind the ocd and normalcy

Occasionally, I being to wonder if I might actually be a little crazy, or if it is all just in my head… and then I wonder if the two options aren’t one in the same…

I first saw the film “Girl, Interrupted” when I was little.  And I loved it.  But I have no specific reasoning as to why I loved it.  I just did, and so did one of my best friends at the time, Jennifer.  I even gave her the movie for her birthday one year, and she was exceedingly delighted.  We just loved the film.  For whatever reason, it was on my mind this week, and so I watched it today – day seven-ish of my illness-induced infirmity.  Today, possible over a decade after the last time I saw the film, I saw something new in it.  I watched the extras section on the making of the film, and it had, as I suspected to have been the case, the woman on whose life the film was based.  She had written a book about her time in a mental institution in the 1960s, and this director had found the book, turned it into a screenplay (over about two years), and then made the film.

The lead actress, Winona Ryder, spoke of how she wished she’d read the book while she was a teenager, because it had ideas that would have been extremely helpful for her at that time.  Having experienced genuine anxiety attacks, she’d had a glimpse of the sort of life the book described (but without the stay in the mental institution).  And that’s what really got me thinking today.

They mentioned how so much of what the main character suffered was normal for people, very common, even.  And I could relate to her.  For certain parts, not at all, but, for others… completely.  There are times when I look at myself as a sort of outsider, and I can say, ‘Oh, goodness.  Whatever.  Get over it.  It’s not actually anything real.  You’re fine.’  Today, I allowed myself to question myself after that statement.  Am I actually fine? Or are you just saying that? Is it because what feels to be wrong just doesn’t make sense?  Because I am better than this problem?  It kind of felt like a 50/50, really.

So, I forced myself into my 200-dollar vehicle.  After a few moments, I started it, and I drove to the store.  I drove the wrong way to get there, thinking it was the faster way.  And then I couldn’t figure out how I’d gone that way, because I’d known how to get to the store since before I could drive.  When I arrived, I drove at an elderly pace through the lot, and eventually halted in a spot.  It was the first spot, but I didn’t care and still don’t.  For minutes, I sat there, car off.  I looked around a little bit, and wondered what was wrong with me.  This wasn’t the first time I’d had such an experience.  Just recently, my mom had called me as I sat in the Target parking lot, and I was then wondering the same thing.  I couldn’t figure out why I was – was it afraid? – afraid to get out and go into the store.

I had driven to the store with two purposes in mind today (as is often the case when in similar situations): to get out of the house and to get food to eat.  But I couldn’t figure out what to buy, and I didn’t know how to get from where I was sitting to the successful completion of my errand.  And so I sat.  I wondered about getting out of my head, because I was clearly stuck in my head…, except that I didn’t have any specific thoughts going through my head at the time.  The only thought was about how I should probably get out of my head… but I couldn’t figure out what I’d been doing there, if I had been in my head, because there were no thoughts there.  I was just sitting, and I could feel how I was nervous about getting out of the car, but I had no thoughts or words to go with the feeling.  It was just a feeling.  When it finally hit the point of bordering on tears, I gave a big inhale-exhale and got out.

I went slowly into the store and got myself a basket.  I went to the Texas wines to distract myself.  (Not like I’d be buying any.  You see, the rodeo showcases wines, and I always like to check the Texas ones in the store afterward to compare the wine garden prices to grocery store prices.)  It worked.  I sent a photo of a 23-dollar bottle to a friend of mine, telling her how it had been $10 for a little cup of it in the wine garden.  I’d remembered the wine bottle.

And then I continued onward, found the smoothie thing I’d wanted, along with the noodle things I didn’t really want but felt I needed, because I wasn’t eating enough food otherwise (also part of the weirdness that made it difficult to go to the store in the first place).  I even gave myself two bananas and a special water (It’s a fancy, flower-infused water… oooh.).  (I worried about the bananas, but I got them anyway, because they are good for me.  Even now I worry that I might not eat them.)  By the time I passed the Easter candy and had sent various photos to some of my Japanese kids in Japan, I was doing rather well, feeling rather normal and not so shaky on the inside.  I played my audiobook on the way home, and it was splendid.  I felt very much normal by the time I was getting out of the car at home.

And it makes me wonder yet again if anything is actually wrong with me, or if it’s all in my head… or, of course, if it isn’t just both.

I’ve had this thing around going to the store for quite some time.  I don’t remember when it started, but today’s adventure was similar to the others.  Oftentimes, I don’t even go to the store if I’m doing it alone.  I scrounge for scraps of food, and make the unhealthiest of meals for myself in my desperate attempt to avoid going shopping on my own.  If, say, my mom is going, I’ll go along easily.  I even enjoy going along most of the time.  But going alone is a rarity.  I practically beg my mother to stop at the store on her way home some days, just so that I don’t have to go.  I do beg her to go with me regularly, and, when she declines, as she is apt to do, I usually end up not going.  This applies to restaurants, as well as the grocery store or almost any other store.

To me, this all just sounds like nonsense.  Like I’m just being dramatic, and Goodness, get over it.  That’s what my brain says to myself all the time.  Sometimes it works.  Yet this isn’t something that was around for just a little while, and has now disappeared.  It actually seems like a genuine problem at times.  I’ve actually not eaten multiple meals, because of it.  And I’m not talking about only a handful here…  doesn’t it just seem, well, crazy?

It certainly seems crazy to me.  But I’m not crazy.  I know that.  This is just exactly the kind of thing they were referencing about the struggles people have in life that, when viewed with a certain perspective, have us viewed as insane, or borderline.  If this were all someone knew about me, that person would have a completely different perspective than someone who has met me outside of this little pocket of craziness.  And, like the main character in the story, perhaps that first someone would want to put me in a mental facility ‘to rest’ for a while, and the second wouldn’t understand why I kind of agreed that it was okay for me to go.

Anyway… hope that didn’t freak anyone out too much…

Post-a-day 2018

In the raw… not

Sometimes I wonder if my OCD isn’t the only thing I have.  I had a sort of episode today, which is what called to mind this idea (though I have had it regularly for years).

I had just showered, and was using the bathroom briefly before dressing.  My mom had just shown me a dress she was considering for my cousin’s upcoming wedding, while I had been wrapped in my towel.  When she came back toward my bathroom a minute or so later, telling me to look at another outfit, I told her to wait a minute, because I was peeing.  She, in good humor, and not thinking much into it, said, ‘No, look at it now.  I have it on already,’ and began to open my bathroom door, to show me the outfit.

Without having my chance to think anything through, I had thrown my arms around me protectively, and was almost yelling – not actual yelling, but much louder and more panicky than regular speech – to tell her to shut the door, and saying that she doesn’t ‘get it’; I was serious about waiting a minute.

I was almost in tears.  My mind was able to view the situation with sanity – What on Earth, girl?  It really is okay that your mother see you naked and/or on the pot.  What just happened in here, darling?  My reaction, however, had been instantaneous and automatic, leaving no attempt to consult with my brain on the matter before responding to the situation.

I went to talk to my mom about it afterward, and my eyes teared while we hugged.  It had taken me a while to go see her outfit, because something had me feel a need to be fully dressed before going to see her, as opposed to my usual comfort level of a bra and underwear being just fine.  It was like an odd means of making up for having felt exposed – compensating by over-dressing.

Growing up, I never was very comfortable with nudity of my own body.  My female family members were all incredibly comfortable with being nude around the house.  I’m not sure I went a week at any given point in my childhood without seeing at least one of them walking around naked.  And it never disturbed me.  I even marveled at how comfortable they were with being nude, and respected it.  I think I even thought that I would be so comfortable by the time I was around their then-ages (college-aged).

It never happened, though. College came and went, and here I stand totally uncomfortable with my own nudity around others.  In college, I was surprised that more girls in the dorm didn’t walk around more often in their towels.  I had just learned so well from my sisters how to make a towel stay in place wrapped around my body, that I spent plenty of time down the hall with friends, their constantly wondering and asking how my towel stayed up.  I didn’t even have to consider if I were comfortable in a towel – I just was.  In the same way, I suppose, I never even considered the idea of being comfortable nude – I just wasn’t.

And I imagine that all of that is somewhat normal for a good chunk of my society.  Some girls strip down entirely in the locker rooms after water polo practice, and some just don’t.  I have actively pursued being comfortable with my own nudity, just in my own presence, over the years, in hopes of 1) learning to appreciate my own body, and 2) being comfortable with certain close family and friends being around when I’m changing or have to use the bathroom.  (There are just certain scenarios that are part of life, and I can’t seem to see myself possibly functioning in them.)

But, just to throw in a sort of curve ball, let’s talk about how I am fine with other cultures and my own nudity.  I specify: Bath houses in Japan and a topless beach in Spain all had my full participation.  I was slightly nervous initially, but the social acceptance of the behavior allowed me to accept mentally the task.  I even appreciated the ease and comfort of the accepted nudity.  For the topless beach, I wasn’t with friends, so that made it loads easier. But the bath houses in Japan were easy enough to do with multiple friends, after my initial exposure to how the whole thing worked.  So, social context makes a huge difference in my comfort levels, it seems.  In my apartment in Japan, with the same friend with whom I had hung out naked in an onsen, I would not be found nude… take away the bath house, and the comfort disappears with it.

So, sometimes I seem to be in good shape and totally normal.  I changed at the YMCA the other week after swimming, and I did it in a way that was much more exposed and easy-going than I ever would have done in the past.  Perhaps, despite the fact that the general social context has changed (not Japan anymore), since it is a changing area at the gym, I still can grasp the behavior mentally, and participate to a certain degree, after my experiences in Japan.  However, since it is not Japan, and the general social context has changed in terms of nudity acceptability, I am only okay with it, because no one I know is around to notice me.  Add a family member to the equation, and I’d bet that I would be wrapped up or in a bathroom stall while changing clothes.

And I think all of that is somewhat normal, too.  However, when something like today happens, where it is not just a matter of my being uncomfortable, but a matter of my having a panicked, immediate reaction to the situation, I wonder if there is something more to it.

Post-a-day 2017

Bathroom thoughts

I have developed a new concept regarding bathroom sinks lately.  I have resisted the idea for the past few months, I guess, and rather regularly.  However, I think I have somewhat resisted the idea for the past several years, off and on.  And now, obviously, I am acknowledging the idea.  The idea is this: Why do we use the same sink for washing our hands after using the toilet as we do to brush our teeth?

This could seem harmless at first glance, so I explain.  We use the bathroom, and then wash our hands.  We do this to remove the ghastly germs that come from our own wastes.  In the process, we touch the knobs of the faucet.  As we wash our hands, some of the germs likely splash around on the sink basin, and possibly even onto the edges or countertop around the basin.  Fast-forward to another, say, twenty minutes later, when it is time to brush out teeth.  We touch the same knobs on the faucet.  We rub the bristles of the toothbrush with the fingers that grabbed the faucet knob.  We bang our toothbrush on the edge of the sink, possibly even set it there.  And we put our face quite close to the sink to rinse out our mouth.

Recall that this is the same sink that might or might not be splattered with poo germs.

 

Anyway, that is a thought I aim to remove from my brain whenever I am using the bathroom sink.  It sometimes goes away, but has recently taken what seems to be a semi-permanent residence over to the side in my mind, not quite bothering me, but watching carefully, as though for an opportunity to jump in and WHAM! get me.  Fun thoughts, huh?  😛

 

Post-a-day 2017

Okinawa, but actually Baseboards

Okay, today was, put simply, an amazing day for me.  I stood up for myself against myself and social pressures and blah-di-blah-blah, I wandered about, I found amazing things, and I never even made it to my intended destination.  And it was fabulous.

However, I’ll not write about all of that tonight.  I’m on my phone, and I find it cumbersome and somewhat annoying to write a lot on my phone, so I’ll wait until Monday or Tuesday, when I have my computer to use.  Don’t worry, though, I took lots of pictures to remind me of what all I did today (a bit different for me, huh?), so those will help me write it all up rather accurately later on!  

Instead, tonight I will write about baseboards.

As I was showering just now, here in the Air BnB, I started wondering about how they manage cleaning of the place between visitors.  Naturally, I cut off that line of thinking almost instantly (because, of you know anything about me and cleanliness, you know I have super-mental-OCD when it comes to bathroom-related cleanliness).  However, it reminded me of dirty I have found places to be in Japan.

Now, when I say that I find places here dirty, it doesn’t mean that Japan is generally gross all over the place – the average person likely wouldn’t notice a thing, except on the odd occasion.  I mean things like door handles, hand towels, and all sorts of other little everyday things.  Things like baseboards, for example.

I never thought much about baseboards (aside from ‘kicking the baseboard’ at the end of an outside turn in two-step (the partner dance, not the song that says it over and over again)) until I was visiting my high school boyfriend’s house one day.  They were finishing with cleaning day at their house when I arrived, and his mom was assigning the final chores to him and his siblings.

“Do you want to vacuum, or do the baseboards?” she asked him.

I think he picked the vacuuming, but I’m not sure.  I asked what she’d meant by “the baseboards”, and someone explained that it was running a wet paper towel or rag along all of the baseboards in the house, in order to get and keep them clean.  I got to watch one of his siblings (perhaps it was his middle sister) then do just that, going along quickly on her knees, cleaning the baseboards.

After that, I began to wonder how my family’s baseboards stayed clean, seeing as I had never noticed anyone cleaning them in any way, and certainly not in the way my boyfriend’s family did it.  I think I never asked anyone about this, but merely wondered privately what magic was at work.

Unfortunately, though, this opened me up to a whole new world of cleaning and cleanliness.  As if I hadn’t already had enough criteria for what determined a place’s (and its residents’) cleanliness, I now had this new one called “baseboards”.  Everywhere I went, of baseboards were in view, I was suddenly aware of how clean they were.

Nowadays, it has calmed down a bit, as it is no longer a new concept for me.  However, I still notice them (and judge places and people by their cleanliness, of course).  In Japan, they have often been unclean, sometimes even layered up with dirt and dust bunnies.  (Actually, there is an extreme amount of dust bunnies at my schools – I don’t understand how they all develop, not why so many of them have to end up right by my desk, of all places.)  And, every time I find these baseboards, two thoughts occur for me.  Okay, well three. 

1) Gross.

2) I want to leave now.

3) They need to get in board with John’s mom on this one. 

(John is the old high school boyfriend, in case you didn’t gather that.)

And, since so many have proven unclean here, I’ve actually taken to avoiding looking at them.  I hardly have I think about it anymore, I just realized – I simply don’t look at them.  Thus I am able to maintain one small piece of this sanity a good handful of people in the world believe that I truly do have. 😛

So,… go check out cleaning your baseboards, kay?  Or not.  Just don’t invite me over, if you haven’t checked them and can guarantee their cleanliness. 😛
Post-a-day 2017