Sunday, July 19, 2009
Preoccupied with Obsessed
Lock checkers, stuff hoarders, face pickers, death thinkers -- this is just a small spattering of the individuals who are consumed with obsessions that haunt most of their waking hours and contaminate their quality of life. In no manner do I intend to make light of these very real psychological illnesses; in fact, I am fully fascinated by them. Every week I tune into A&E's reality show, Obsessed. Filmed and edited in the same style as their one-hour-to-clean-n-sober show, Intervention, each Obsessed episode focuses on two individuals with obsessive disorders and then follows them through treatment. I love watching these individuals' progression from furious fixation to having at least one foot firmly planted on the road to Compos Mentis. Usually, these preoccupations are initially triggered by a significant traumatic event...a death, a divorce, abuse. It seems to be a loss which is replaced by the obsession. Sometimes these individuals demonstrated bits of this behavior, but then the trauma escalated it to a new, more dangerous level. These people's lives are so consumed by fears and rituals, that they've faced divorce, had their children taken away, and virtually shut most people out of their lives.
When I watch this show, I sometimes question my own proclivity toward semi-OCD behavior. And then I overthink... Do I have a problem if I feel compelled to check my alarm clock settings four or five times or have to hear certain songs when I'm at particular points on my bike ride? Is it odd that I can't forget to say, "I love you," when I end a phone call with John or the kids because I'm afraid if I don't and something happens to them or me, I wouldn't have just told them I love them? Or worse, my not saying it will trigger something... like I have secret powers? I believe the difference with my quirks is that I don't lose sleep by checking the alarm clock for hours and then worry half the night if it will truly sound at the prescribed time. If my bike ride playlist doesn't work out just perfectly, I sometimes stop and fix it -- but sometimes I don't and I don't obsess over it. If I forget to tell my family I love them, I initially feel odd, but immediately get over it. So, I don't think I need therapy, but I sometimes wonder if, under the perfect conditions, I could slip off that slippery slope. Although I do love an intriguing show about people and their odd conditions, what I enjoy most about this particular show is watching their journey toward recovery. By the end of the hour, they have seen significant improvement and are on their way to healthy living. I feel such empathy for each person and their struggle to live just one carefree day, surrounded by loved ones. I cry at least once during every episode and applaud each individual for seeking help and wanting a better life. And if I ever slip into lifestyle of cat hoarder, I'm definitely calling A&E.