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Sunday, November 8, 2009

OCD? and recovering, I hope: an essay. or novelette.

I probably should have posted this closer to Halloween, 'cause it's a little scary. This is intended to be a glimpse into my brain. Why, you ask? Good question. I guess because this is my blog, and, well, I find it amusing to write. Or, maybe at some point somebody might feel a little less weird just knowing how weird I am.
Well, they don't call me the 'lyzer for nothin. Annalyzer. Haha. A nickname that I acquired in my younger years, and haven't yet outgrown. You have heard it said that "your strength is your weakness." I am no exception. Coupled with my tendency to analyze, I am also blessed with a perfectionist personality. You can imagine what a great combination those two things are. :)

When a family trip is coming up, I prepare far in advance to the actual departure. Typically, a week before the trip begins, I start the planning, packing process: at the beginning, this is just trying to get caught up on the laundry. In the next couple of days, I go through the boys' clothes and hold out the ones that I want to take in a pile, so that they can mostly wear what we are NOT taking until we leave. Then I get suitcases out, start filling them up, make a store list, start a "do not forget list." Yea, I know, a little nauseating isn't it? Towards the end, I usually plan bags or backpacks for the boys to have for the car. These will include toys, books, crayons, etc... that they already have, and also usually a few cheap new things from the Target $1.00 section or something. Finally, I prepare a bag with snacks, videos, and such that I keep up front with me to use when the right time comes. The positive side of all of this crazy deliberate planning is that on the road, things usually go pretty smoothly--for a while anyway. The negative side is that the boys come to expect a lot. They are spoiled, you might say. :) If things don't go well, I often blame myself, wonder what I could have done better to avoid certain catastrophes, and drive Don crazy in the process.
I recognize that God has blessed me with my personality traits. I am thankful for theses aspects of myself. For example, they come in pretty handy when planning a nursery schedule or heading up children's ministry events. Though I might drive people crazy checking off all of my to-do list, making sure that all the proverbial ducks are in a row.
I have really struggled with overanalization when it comes to relationships (in high school and college: with boys; since I've been married; with my own peers). Granted, many people struggle with stuff like this at some point.
Probably less common is my tendency to worry about sickness. When I was younger, I could hardly get excited about traveling anywhere, because I immediately wondered if I was going to be sick... how sick I was going to be... how long the trip was going to last? Would I be able to sit in the front? If there were trains and airplanes involved, then I was usually doomed. Shoot, I would start turning green just thinking about it. I'm really not kidding. The thought of carsickness was enough to make me car sick! I can't tell you how many trips started off with me feeling sick before we even got into the car!! (Mom and Dad, you are my witnesses. :O )

As I write this, I am struggling with the fact that I did not turn in our library books on time... 20 cent fine per day per book! btw, does that seem a little excessive to you? Maybe it's just me. Anyway, I just returned 10 books (did I miscount?), and realized that my account says that I have 11 checked out in my name. Unfortunately, no one will check the drop box until tomorrow... so I won't know for sure until tomorrow if I just miscounted, or if indeed I am short one book... and then 20 more cents to pay. And also, where is the bloomin' book? No tellin!! In Jon David's bed? In the car? In the toy box? What if I don't find it? What then? What if I end up having to pay $30.00 or something for a lost book!!!
So there ya have it. I am miserably analyzing something that will probably resolve itself quickly. And why? Because one, I have to analyze in order to solve the problem in my head, and two, I have made a mistake, and so my brain is not computing. It has to have perfection in order to operate correctly. Such a miserable existence ( grossly exagerating just for fun).

This brings me to the main point of this essay. I was inspired to write about this because I have felt myself actively fighting against this part of my nature since Caleb has been born. I think the reason is in part due to the fact that after Jon David and Luke were born, these aspects of myself got a little out of control. I would agonize over what to do at almost every moment of the day, it seemed. If they were crying, I had to figure out why. If they were not sleeping well, surely there was something I was doing wrong, and worse: it became my mission to fix it. Although the pressure I was putting on myself was too much, I didn't realize that I had the option of letting it go. I truly thought that if I had the right formula, and put it into practice, then my babies would be perfectly content. And if this didn't happen, then it was simply my fault, and I would have to perform better next time. I began to see everything in a negative light. Sadly, Don became my dumping grounds. My world was cloudy most of the time, and I'm quite sure I had some mild depression going on.
I was determined that things would be different this time. God had taught me so much during the praying period before pregnancy, during 9 months gestation, and through the actual birth. I didn't want the divine groove to end. :)
So I decided that I needed to try to reverse most of my thought processes. Instead of trying to time everything out from the beginning--feedings, sleepings, play times, etc... I tried my dead level best to just go with the flow. For me, this meant that if someone (like Don) suggested an idea that I had not had time to analize, I should just do it anyway. Give it a try. What was there to loose, really? If something was not working, just try something. Don't necessarily have to have a reason, don't put in through the 'lyza. Just do it. Just live life. Just enjoy Caleb. If I don't know what it's time for, and Caleb's crying, just pick something and do it. And if it doesn't work, don't put myself go through self deprecating thoughts until I feel like a failure. I gotta tell ya, the reprograming still doesn't always come naturally. But I am so much happier. Also, now that Caleb is a little older, it is a little easier to predict what needs to be done.
The cool thing is that, just as my perfectionism and overanalization used to bleed over into almost all aspects of my life; my victorious moments now also spill over. I do not expect to ever be rid of these traits. I definitely still struggle, and I'm sure this seems silly, absurd, or both to some. But hopefully, I can use them constructively. I can decide that I'm going to clean only part of one bathroom today, and not both, because, well, just because. And it doesn't cause the whole system to fail and for me to become discouraged. Lord, thank you for working on me! Please help me not to fall back into my old ways!
Hello, my name is Anna, and I am recovering from OCD.

Oh, btw, I woke up this morning after having written the library paragraph. The extra library book was on the boys' side table. Yea, it still feels good when things fall into place. :)


  1. Wow Anna, I never knew this about you. I would say we might be a little different.

  2. Anna, I struggle with this too. While obviously not OCD(you should check out my pile of junk mail and other papers) I struggle with not doing a "good enough" job being a mom. It dosen't matter what it is, I always think I could have done it better, had a more teachable moment, spent more time with the kids. The problem is, there is ALWAYS room for improvement and never a "right" way to do things, so I drive myself nuts with it. I think it goes back to my life as a career woman before kids. I was driven to always do things right, so it naturally surfaced as I started my new life as a mommy. I worry that this type of attitude will damage my kids as I strive for perfection, both for myself and for them. Maybe I'll have to pray for you and you'll have to pray for me about this!

  3. Anna, this is so awesome! I feel victorious just reading this blog! I have been recently convicted that it is time to put my extreme perfectionism to the side and it has made me SO MUCH HAPPIER! We are definitely sisters in that. Last night I left a pile of dishes in the sink and felt great about it because I chose to spend time with Chris instead... small victories! I also realized I can't make myself personally responsible for making the youth kids we work with love the lord. I can't perfect them any more than I can perfect myself. Such a freeing thought!

  4. Love this post! I lean toward OCDness myself, but God blessed me with a super laidback husband who has definitely helped temper those tendencies. :)



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