Cheaper Than Therapy

I have another post I was going to put up, but then I started verbally vomiting on screen and had the whole internal debate about letting you in on my crazy or not. But in the end I forgot what I was debating and accidentally hit “publish” instead of refreshing the screen on Maru the cat videos.

It happens.

Anyway, although people who check the stove two times before leaving or straighten a crooked picture often claim to have OCD—something I am not dismissing, mind you—most really have no idea about the mental marathon that others (ahem, me) run every day.

These things are why when I  try and write something funny about a bird shitting on my glass door, for example, my thoughts skip like a broken record and I’m too distracted to write anything other than a few tweets and a Post-It note with helpful things like, “write a to-do list.”

This happens when life happens, when a major or seemingly minor thing leaves me feeling out of control.

I think I’m focusing on something and then jarringly realize that my thoughts have shifted back to counting in my head over and over. Then a minute later I try and focus again, but then my mind reminds me, “Shit. Where the hell were you?” and then it’s back to obsessing about my serious things and kind of about the fact that I have nothing in me to write a real post, which is basically the most insignificant thing I should worry about.

It’s instinctive. It’s survival. It’s my default.

While I know these bizarre things I do for self-preservation are technically making my life more complicated, it’s a “comfortable” complicated. I pretend I can deal with that better than I can deal with reality without them. So I reassure myself that I can do “X” or “Y” and everything will be okay, that if I do everything the way I’ve always done it, discomfort from all those external things can be (temporarily) avoided.

I can survive.

But when something crimps that routine—even just having to do something for one hour out of my week that interrupts that constant—I often default into panic mode. I might appear calm and collected, but inside I’m either grasping at control with my rituals to keep myself afloat or wishing someone would come in and wave a magic wand, telling me exactly what I should be doing and how to do it, relieving me of the burden of thinking.

Because if this post proves anything, it’s that I don’t always make the smartest decisions. Well, this post and that time I cut my own hair.

Where was I? Oh yes. Sometimes more than anything all I want is someone to tell me to do nothing at all, to give me permission to take a break from my life and myself and recover and heal before the next punch is thrown.

However,  that’s not reality.

Reality is a lot of crappy things that happen without your permission mixed in with those small pleasures that make your heart happy and give you the strength to put on your big girl panties and deal with it the best way that you know how.

So sometimes I internalize everything and take all the weight on myself.

And sometimes I don’t make the healthiest choices or write the funniest posts or say the most helpful things—to myself and to others.

But that is reality, and at the end of the day—even when I’m laying in bed trying to stop the freaking automatic tape that won’t quit running through my head—all I can do is vow to try again tomorrow.

And if all else fails, watch more of Maru and finish my post about bird poop. 

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45 responses to “Cheaper Than Therapy

  1. Writing posts on bird poop is good therapy. I’m pretty fond of Valium as well. With wine. And a vodka back.

  2. Running from Hell with El

    Ah, I have fought many addictions and issues, so I would never lecture you. I just wanted to say a few things and tell you that I support you. First, having to be funny all the time would kill me . . . then again, I usually have to think of something deep and thoughtful and when I’m manic, it’s a little hard to slow my brain down enough to express all of that deep stuff in a rational way. And as far as the exercise addiction, I run marathons for “fun,” so I hear you. Anyway . . . I liked today’s post. Peace, my friend.

    • Your posts are always genuine and honest, whether they’re funny or serious, and I know you’ve been through enough to relate. As long as you can find that balance between running for health and running away from your issues, that’s all that matters.

  3. Reading this made me realize how truly jacked up I get when my routines are disrupted. It’s maddening.

    I just labeled some of my posts and it ended up shifting a bunch of posts to different days, and it put the one I wrote like Friday, to today’s post. I almost just deleted all of them, but then walked away for a half hour to breathe and relax. In this moment I hate Blogger, but I’m just going to leave it be.

    Now that I’m single I finally have my weekends back to my normal routine, and I have never been happier. Well, except the time I wrote that post about a bird pooping on my window. Oh wait, that was you! 🙂 (Not you that pooped on my window).

    • I know you can relate a bit to the cleaning and OCD stuff, even though yours is manifested in a different way. I actually look to you and your posts for a bit of an ass kicking from time to time, as I admire the changes you’ve made 🙂 Look for the bird poop post next!

  4. Abby, I love your wonderful sense of humor and delightful ability to paint these hilarious pictures with your words! Cut yourself some slack, girl!! Also, opening yourself up to “scrutiny” like this takes a huge amount of courage. You are amazing and we appreciate every one of your posts! Thanks for sharing, and know that you are by no means alone with your “issues”!! Love, Ru

  5. kelleysbreakroom

    I so know what you mean. There is this weird pressure that we must put on ourselves. The deal with you is that I enjoy anything you write. This not-a-post post was funny to me. It was real and genuine and honest and I loved it. It’s hard to be “on” all the time. I need to learn to take a chill pill myself.

    • It’s always that mix of external pressure with “real life” things and then stupid pressure I put on myself with all those accessory things, like blogging, for example. When one goes wonky, I always feel like I have to compensate with the other. Sometimes I have have to remind myself that things will eventually balance out without me forcing it, and that beating myself down–physically and mentally–gets me nowhere. Plus, I can’t be anything but honest, for better or worse 😉

  6. ACK! whay happened to my soooper long comment.

    GD it.

    well, I hear you, Dear Abby. We are so many thoughts in one brain, one person. So many thoughts.


  7. I have severe anxiety and thank God for the medication I’m on. I laugh when people say “Oh don’t take life so seriously!” or “Just breathe!” like it’s just that easy to quiet the voices in my head (not crazy voices, but you know what I mean). Love this post girl!

  8. Cutting hair yourself is never a good choice…but that Maru – chubby cat is funny (and it gave me an excuse not to do what I need to do for a bit longer – so I’m happy.)

  9. My routine is my utter lack of routine. My normal is not knowing where I’ll be that afternoon. On any given day we can just pull the anchor and go somewhere else. My life is ruined because I’ll never ever be able to return to anything considered normal. But you know what? I need to add you to my daily routine and read you. Everyday. Even on days where you don’t post. I can hunt down older ones. Some may call that stalking, but us bloggers love it. You are a fascinating read. And I can’t wait to hear more about bird poop.

    • Just reading the first part of this comment basically gave me an anxiety attack, but I totally get where you’re coming from. The second part of your comment basically made me all cocky, because that was a really cool thing for you to say 😉

  10. I am Queen of Routine. I can’t handle any little unexpected glitches…it’s so silly, but it’s me.

  11. If I had a routine, my house might be clean;
    The fridge would be neat, full of good things to eat,
    But that’s not the reality that is me.
    I leave things to chance, fly by the seat of my pants.

    I won’t let myself stress if my house is a mess.
    On the couch I’ll recline with my vodka and lime,
    Watch a Celtics game, (I know the players by name),,
    And be glad though I didn’t get wealth, I do have my health!

    (Whoops! I got carried away! This poem will end up on my blog tomorrow!) I just wanted to let you know that I love reading your posts, and I read your book. You are an entertaining writer. Don’t be so hard on yourself; lighten up a little. I know that’s easier for me to say than for you to do! But we love you when you’re funny and when you’re not!

  12. Some days I don’t feel like doing anything, including writing but then I feel guilty if I don’t blog on my regular day or write something hysterically funny or incredibly moving. It’s just hard to be “on” all the damn time. So I’ve recently allowed myself to take a day off if I need to or if my body tells me I need to. I’m still trying to make that okay in my mind, but I know I need to do that or I won’t be good for anyone.

  13. I just sat through a cheerleading parent meeting. That’s its own blog post and or social media outlet.

    Our brains work similarily. I hope you dont take offense to that.

  14. I’m looking forward to the bird poop post.

    But what I really want to say is…STOP, DO NOTHING, TAKE A BREAK. A big long one. It can be done and it is worth it Abby, I swear to you. And I love you.

    Go Twins.

  15. And yet you are adored by us, and you are real. So there. Now go write your post on the bird shit on your window.

  16. Haha in my very first post (first one with words. the first was a pic of allie), I talked about how blogging was cheaper than therapy. Maru? Best cuddliest thing ever.

  17. I hear you, my dear friend.

    I too, keep myself ticking over with my mental compulsions and obsessions, and if my routine becomes imbalanced, they fire up a notch and I spend my time grappling with, well, myself.

    When I first started training for my marathons, I had a very strict training schedule, and if anyone DARED to suggest that I change it up, I would lose my shit. I remember my best friend asking if I’d like to go to dinner one night, I agreed and he text me back and said he’d booked the table for 8.30pm. 8.30pm was unacceptable for me, I was so strict about when I ate dinner, and I completely flipped my lid. It’s so difficult, explaining this kind of behaviour to friends and family. They roll their eyes most of the time, accepting that it’s just one of my endearing ‘quirks’, but I’m not sure if they realise just how stifling ‘survival mode’ can be.

    I’ve improved, I know I have, I will now change up plans and eat dinner late, and I rely less on my rituals, although I still find myself checking things constantly, and as for the counting? Yup. Still do that.

    I adore this post, Abby, and I adore you.

    Thanks for sharing.

  18. “Reality is a lot of crappy things that happen without your permission mixed in with those small pleasures that make your heart happy and give you the strength to put on your big girl panties and deal with it the best way that you know how.”

    That is only too true, Abby. Being able to surmount the (reality) obstacles that deviate us from our goals only makes us stronger.

    Also, in reading this post, I had the image of Jack Nicholson’s OCD character, from that film when he acted with Helen Hunt. 😛

  19. I’m the same way when it comes to things messing up my routine or the day I had planned in my head. Especially social interruptions, like a call from a friend who talks forever or someone dropping by unannounced. But that’s a topic for a later post on my social anxiety issues. I think you can completely understand how much one looks forward all day long to a night on the couch in your PJs doing your own thing. 🙂

    As for the OCD tendencies, I can understand. I have the mild, everyday variety of “let’s check the washing machine One More Time to make sure I’m not washing my delicates on Hot,” but my husband has OCD of the sort your crazy doctor assigns you a workbook on. I have heard much of the racing thoughts tendency. I can so feel for you on that one.

  20. I’m pretty sure Maru is going to save the world. Thanks for spreading the word. Lord knows the cat can’t do it all on her own.

  21. Carrie - Cannibalistic Nerd

    I don’t really know how to function unless I A. have a routine, and B. am constantly trying to avoid it. If there’s no routine, I feel lost. If there is one, I feel overwhelmed and boxed in. I’ve yet to find a balance.

  22. Before I leave the house in the morning, I check about 12 times to make sure there are no pots on the stove, and I check my alarm about 20 times before I go to bed! It’s routine, it’s comfort, it’s no big deal 😀 You do what you need to do! You’re not hurting anybody.

    • Of course those things are no big deal and don’t hurt anyone, but the things I do completely interrupt my life and cause more problems. I’m pretty much hurting myself, so it is kind of a problem 😉

  23. Abby, I can relate to you SO much, it’s scary. Well, I take that back, it’s not scary. It’s actually comforting to know I am not alone.

    “Even when I’m laying in bed trying to stop the freaking automatic tape that won’t quit running through my head—all I can do is vow to try again tomorrow.”

    I love that.

  24. Ah, I love this. I love you. I am your sister in blog-vomit:) And while 90% of the time I end up being glad I hit publish anyhow, there is that other 10%… And oddly enough it’s not usually the posts that other people don’t like. I have weird taste in my own insecurities I guess! Anyhow, this: ” Sometimes more than anything all I want is someone to tell me to do nothing at all, to give me permission to take a break from my life and myself and recover and heal before the next punch is thrown.” YES. It may not be reality but I want it to be…

  25. Giiiiiiiirlll, you have such a way with words. I can really relate to you! If I was there, I’d throw on some Jillian Michaels, yell at you to sweat while I eat some Bugles, and then challenge you to a game of Scrabble. Do you like Scrabble? I hope so, because we are playing 2 games tonight 🙂

  26. OMG, please tell me to do nothing at all. That sounds HEAVENLY.

    Love your blog – thanks for visiting mine!

    🙂 Anna

  27. As you well know, I’m right there with you. Obsessing is part of my everyday. It’s crummy and not fun but just part of the deal. Writing about it and emailing friends also helps.

  28. I was smiling when I read this post. It wasn’t because I took joy in it, it was because I related to it so well. I don’t have OCD, but I do have chronic anxiety that manifests itself in very similar ways sometimes. And those are the times when I just keep reloading the same stupid cat video over and over because it’s the only thing that I can remember to do that doesn’t involve a long train of thought.

  29. I just found your blog and I’m so glad I did. I can relate to so much of what you write about. I just blogged about my own anxiety, and wanted to say hi and tell you that you aren’t alone. Obsessing is basically my middle name – and unless I’m super busy, I really make myself nuts worrying about every little thing – especially social things. It’s ridiculous & crippling at times.

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