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How to Survive With Too Many Quirks and Not Enough Sense

Updated on June 9, 2008

An Introduction

Tom Cruise once said (and I paraphrase, of course) that antidepressants were useless and psychiatrists were twerps.

It's a good thing I don't pay attention to Tom Cruise.

This little hub is an examination of lives inundated with quirks, idiosyncracie, and mental illness. When we look back on our lives and the things we've faced, aren't there times when we've all been a little depressed, a little OCD? It makes us who we are - but it doesn't mean that that's ALL we are.

Enjoyment of Life's Quirks


Let's talk about OCD

OCD is obsessive-compulsive disorder. Usually when we hear that term we visualize a person who has to wash their hands 87 times per day, lock the door three times before they leave the house, and can't stand the sight of a dust bunny.

Yeah, okay. I'm sure there are people out there like that. In fact I know there are. But that's an example of extreme cases where the disorder completely overtakes their life. Me, I'm "a bit OCD," is what I say. I've tried to figure out which behaviors of mine might be accountable to OCD, but it's rather difficult. Am I obsessed with Chapstick because it's an obsession, or because my lips get chapped and I like them to stay moist (at the mention of Chapstick, I had to go search out a stick. Hm. Behold the power of suggestion). Likewise, the fact that the very, very last thing I have to do before I go to bed is use the bathroom. If I putz around for another five minutes before lying down, in I go again. But really, isn't that practical? Especially for a former bedwetter who really, really hates embarrassment?

I don't mind if my house is messy. It usually is, because I can't be bothered to put things away if I'm only going to pick them up again in an hour (or two, or forty-eight). But when I clean things - oh, how I clean them! It is the impetus behind my (somewhat flighty) work ethic. I was instructed to vacuum the stairs yesterday at work. Upon completing the task, I looked around at the rest of the sales floor and said to my manager, "Can I just vacuum the whole floor, then?"

I dusted, vacuumed, arranged, and put to rights the entire downstairs of the floor. My manager was very impressed and appreciative of my hard work (nothing like a good first impression!)

So does the fact that I have this bit of OCD really comprimise my quality of life? Is it an obstacle to true happiness, a trial that I must overcome on my path to enlightenment? No, clearly not. In fact it can at times be dead useful. So I'm not complaining.

Depression Bites

Remember back when depression was a real illness, not a put-on by non-conformist teenagers?

Remember when we accepted that teenagers got depressed, without accusing it of being a put-on?

Very strange paradox, that. On the one hand, it's cool to be "emo" and write angsty poetry. On the other hand, it hurts like hell to be depressed and why anyone would go through it willingly is beyond my meagre comprehension. In any case, the "emo" trend didn't really hit my rural high school until after I'd graduated, so in terms of personal experience it's something of a moot point.

I was depressed in high school. My parents were divorcing, my siblings were antagonizing, and my friends - when I had them - were flighty and inconsistent. I never really fit in, and that was annoying. Then I graduated, and went to college, and things got better. Am I still clinically depressed? Yes, and I always will be. Am I currently in a depression? No. Being clinically depressed doesn't mean that I spend my entire life being down in the dumps. It simply means that I am more susceptible to the triggers that can cause depression: relationship woes, job loss, bereavement, and so on. I have to be more aware of my moods and my emotional balance than other people seem to. And I have to take myself in hand sometimes and give myself a stern talking to, along the lines of: "Cheer up and quitcherbitchin'! It's not like you're in high school anymore!"

Surprisingly enough, that tends to work.

But It's the Anxiety That'll Get You

Here is where it all comes together.

I'm a bit OCD. Okay, whatever. When bad things happen I get depressed. Yeah, so does the rest of the world. Generalized Anxiety Disorder - ugh.

GAD is the bane of my personal existence. It's the 20-foot Great White Shark lurking under the placid waters of my consciousness. It's the awful shark metaphor I think up because I can't come up with anything classier. It drives me crazy. Everywhere I go and in everything I do, it's there, poking me, tensing me up and freaking me out, no matter whether I am aware or not of anything that I should be anxious about.

It's annoying. It's the foundation of my existence. And I medicate the hell out of it.

Why? Because it bothers me. It prevents me from getting done the things I want to do in my life, and I am far too stubborn to tolerate such an obstacle. It took me a while, but I finally tracked down a medication that does the trick. While some made me tired, or dull, or apathetic, this one takes the edge off without taking me with it. I won't tell you what it is, because I don't want to influence anyone one way or the other - everyone responds differently and you need to make your own journey into the wonderful world of psychiatric medicine.

The drugs make it so that I can be me, to the fullest extent of me-ness. Yes, stupid things still bother me and yes, I still can have a panic attack when something enormously rotten happens. But I have control now, over my nerves, my emotions, and my anxiety. If Tom Cruise wants me off my meds, he had better move in with me and deal with the consequences himself.


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