On Persevering, Vol. I

I’m getting deeper and deeper into exposure work, which means I’m delving more and more deeply into the fears that fuel my OCD fires. Some of you may not actually know what OCD is; eventually I’ll explain it in further detail, but for our purposes right this second it’s best conceptualized as a mental disorder that revolves around uncertainty, repetitive actions, and fears both real and imagined. (I haven’t decided if I’ll delineate my exact fears or not. Probably not, since they’re not the sorts of things everyone needs to know about, so when talking about obsessions I’ll keep the conversation vague.) Confronting your fears isn’t “fun,” per se; confronting your fears in a gradual, systemic way that’s aimed at stamping out an anxiety disorder’s about as much fun as banging your head against a brick wall, and oftentimes just as hard on your brain. It’s hard fucking work is what it is–and it’s not fun work, either, and because the gains are sometimes so miniscule you don’t always get a sense of momentum.

Yet you push forward. You know your therapist has told you in no uncertain terms that exposure work’s a daily activity–minimum one hour, maximum one-hour-and-a-half. And so you find the time. Usually you’re trying to get it done and dusted by the end of your morning; that way exposure isn’t looming over you like Damocles’ sword for the rest of your day. Sometimes you can’t; sometimes you can, but procrastinate. Again, it’s not the sort of activity you typically crave. It’s boring. It’s mentally taxing. And ultimately, it just isn’t fun. I’ve heard it said that fixing OCD’s as painful as having it in the first place. But you trudge forward anyway: as awful as the treatment sometimes seems, at least it offers hope instead of a deepening cycle of obsessions and compulsions.

But motivation’s tough. Sometimes it’s there–like when you have a major therapeutic breakthrough (as I did earlier this week). Sometimes it’s not; sometimes you look at the clock and realize it’s 2:10 and that you’ve really done nothing all day except watch three soccer matches. But you carry on, simply because you’ve committed yourself to this course of action. You’ve got to be pig-headed; that’s good, because I’m nothing if not pig-headed. You’ve got to have an iron will to push on through, to work when you don’t feel like working, to dive head-first into your fears. But you’ve gotta be ready for days like today, days when motivation’s seeping out of your pores and you’re wondering how, exactly, you’re supposed to spend an hour doing the work. You push forward knowing it’s gonna be tough sledding until it’s not. You do the work because you have to

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