26 May 2014

Fight club

Like many OCD sufferers, I also experience general anxiety, which can exacerbate the condition. If anxiety - and its opposite number, reason - were people, here's how one of my recent mental battles might translate into 3D.

* * *

Reason is having a pretty good day until he goes into the kitchen to make a camomile tea and finds Anxiety leaning over the kitchen counter. His ear is close to the electrical socket next to the microwave, in which a ready meal slowly turns.

Reason stops, leans against the doorframe and folds his arms. 'What on earth are you doing now, Anxiety?' 

Anxiety flaps his hand. 'Shh! Can you hear it?'


'There's a funny noise coming from the socket. Listen! I think the electrics are going.'

'Not this again.' Reason sighs, unfolds his arms and walks towards Anxiety. 'Look, you haven't put the plug in properly.' He reaches over the counter and pushes the plug firmly into the socket.

'Oh.' Anxiety straightens up. 'I can still hear something.'

'That's the vibrations from the microwave.'

'Mmm, maybe. I don't think it sounds right, though.' Anxiety frowns. 'And what about all those light bulbs that went? First it was the kitchen spotlights, one after another, then the living room light, then the lava lamp.'
Image courtesy of hin255/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Reason rolls his eyes. 'You can hardly call two months "one after another", and how long is it since the last one blew? It must be at least three months. Don't you think they'd have gone again, if there were an electrical problem, or has that somehow fixed itself since then? And when had we last changed the bulb in the living room?'

'Can't remember.' Anxiety pouts.

'Precisely. As for the lava lamp, you have it on all the time; no wonder the bulb keeps going. What is it with that, by the way?'

'It helps me to relax.'

'This is you relaxed? I'd hate to see you stressed.'

Anxiety sniffs, turns to peer into the microwave, then spins back around. 'What about the computer monitor? That started flickering really suddenly. I tell you, the electrics are going and we'll have to get them replaced and it'll cost a fortune and make a terrible mess and -'

'What happened when we replaced the monitor? Did the new one flicker?'

Anxiety mumbles something.

'What was that?' says Reason.

'No, it didn't.'

'So, it was the monitor that was broken, then? Which is hardly surprising, given that it was secondhand and about a hundred years old. I don't know why we can't buy something new once in a while.'

'Because I can't choose. How do I know if I've found exactly the right thing? With secondhand, you take what you're given; you don't have to decide. Anyway, it could hardly be a hundred years old when they didn't have monitors then.'

'I know! I was exaggerating for comedic effect. You take everything way too seriously, Anxiety.'

The microwave pings. Anxiety turns to open it and pull out the plastic container. He stops suddenly and stares at it. 'Oh no, the plastic lid has come loose! I wonder if it was like that before? Maybe even in the shop. I mean I usually check, but I could have forgotten. What if it's been open for days? I'm going to get food poisoning!'

Reason shakes his head and makes for the door. It'll take more than camomile today; maybe a brandy instead.

'Wait, Reason, don't go!' Anxiety pulls the film right back. 'Does this stew look off to you?... Reason? Reason?...'


Anonymous said...

Great post! While it was entertaining and even made me smile, it also shows how anxiety can sneak its way into everything, and if you're not careful, it just might totally take over your life.

helen said...

This is wonderful. I can see it as an entertaining yet informative stage play.

Helen Barbour said...

Thanks, ocdtalk! Unfortunately, anxiety does currently rule my life. This piece encompasses only a tiny fraction of the ridiculous thoughts that plague me...

Helen Barbour said...

helen, thanks for your feedback, which has inspired me to think about developing this post further, perhaps through one of the mental health organisations I'm involved with.

Tina Fariss Barbour said...

Oh, Helen, this does sound so familiar. It is like a battle between Anxiety, who just wants to cause trouble, and Reason, who just wants some peace. Thanks for writing about the battle in this way. I think it gives a great picture of how anxiety can wreak havoc.

Helen Barbour said...

Thanks, Tina. I don't know about you, but this battle rages constantly in my head!