I woke up late this morning, about 9.30, but actually earlier than I expected to wake up (I was expecting to still be asleep at 10.00, if not 11.00). I had a bit of a headache that was threatening to become a migraine, though, so I took some painkillers and ate breakfast and went back to bed, reading and thinking. After the headache started to go I felt tired (as I usually do after a migraine), but better than I have done since breaking up a week and a half ago. I had a supportive email from my therapist, which was good too.
I davened (prayed) most of Shacharit (the morning service), which again is more than I’ve done for a while, albeit rather late. I noticed the OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) was bad again, though. In fact, it has been for a while (probably since I broke up), but I hadn’t fully registered it. Like the depression, it tends to flare up at times of stress, so it is no surprise that it has returned after my breakup and my worries about being single and lonely forever.
I don’t think I’ve really explained my religious OCD (scrupulosity). I was going to link to the article I wrote about it for Den of Geek‘s Geeks vs. Loneliness slot (the only writing for which I’ve actually been paid!), but the page currently seems to be down. Basically, rather than worrying about cleanliness, safety or order (which is what most people associate with OCD), my OCD takes the form of worrying about religious things, which is known as scrupulosity. The most difficult aspect, in terms of the amount of distress and disruption to my life, has been with the Jewish food laws: the everyday laws of kashrut and the special food laws of Pesach (Passover). This has been better recently, since I had some CBT a number of months ago, but it lurks in the background and comes to the fore at times of stress, and I’m often still not 100% convinced that my flat is really kosher; I do live with the vague expectation/fear that I’m going to have to replace all my crockery at some point. The thoughts are the obsession; the compulsion is either to wipe and clean crockery or to check with a rabbi that all is OK – the latter is particularly difficult to deal with, as normally one would check a question with a rabbi, but here it fuels the OCD so it is hard to know what to do.
The other set of obsessions don’t have accompanying compulsion (known as pure O). I am better at dealing with them these days, so I tend to mean the dietary worries when I talk about OCD, but actually the pure O has been around for much longer, on and off, since not all that long after I was diagnosed with the depression, back in 2003. Sometimes it takes the form of violent thoughts that I worry I might act on one day. I have been reassured that people who have such obsessive thoughts are the least likely to be violent, as they are generally gentle people who are horrified by their thoughts; that is why they find them so disturbing. I should probably point out here the nature of OCD: everyone has potentially disturbing thoughts from time to time, but people who develop OCD take them very seriously as meaning something true and important about themselves and become unable to stop thinking about them (the analogy usually used is that if someone says to you, “Don’t think about a white bear” it becomes impossible for you to think of anything except a white bear). In short, they become an obsession and the compulsions develop to try to control the obsessive thoughts. So I am aware of the violent thoughts, but I try not to let them worry me, although it is difficult. I really want to have a family (my wanting to have children has been in part responsible for breaking two potential relationships recently), but sometimes I worry that I should not do so if there is even the slightest risk that I have violent thoughts lurking inside of me.
More disturbing, at least recently, is the fact that I do also get idolatrous thoughts, basically thoughts of other religions and deities than the One I believe in, which tend to be worst when I am davening. As one is supposed to keep one’s thoughts clear, I worry that my prayer is worthless or, worse, actually considered idolatrous, praying to a false god. I know that worrying about these thoughts just makes them worse, so I try not to let them get to me, but just to ‘wash out’ of my mind as they washed in, but it can be very hard. This is what happened this morning, leaving me feeling a bit self-critical and annoyed with myself. So I hope I have not just traded the depression for more OCD. I know the depression and OCD will probably always be there on some level, but I would like to go back to how I was in the months before the breakup, with the depression and the OCD firmly in the background.