Sunday, August 30, 2009

La folie de doute.

That's what the French called it; the madness of doubt, the doubting disease. Though classified as an anxiety disorder, OCD is at it's core about doubt and uncertainty, at least in my experience and from what I've read. It's about wanting 100% guarantees; difficulties in accepting risk and having your mind constantly whisper insidiously 'what if?'.

It's like that feeling you might get a few miles after leaving your home when you think 'did I turn off the iron?' and you can't remember for sure and you can't shake the thought and you get freaked out by the possibilities it contains. OCD's like that but on steroids. At least when the OCD is flaring up, as it is for me currently.

I'm going to empty my head a bit...

I'm feeling very fucked up by it all; very anxious, very on edge, very frightened.

I'm hoping that just typing the following helps in some small way. You'll think this is fucking nuts... and that's ok cos I do too.

My irrational fears, my irrational thoughts, my 'what if?'s, my OCD revolves around the idea of contracting rabies. I fear that I will some how catch it... what if?, what if?, what if?...

I can accept doubt and risk and uncertainty in most areas of life, like anyone else can and does. In fact, I am often drawn to ideas, artworks, films that contain uncertainty and doubt and I have had moments in my life of being a risk taker. But, for whatever reason, I am hooked by this rabies fear. I am finding it very difficult to live with the uncertainty, the inability to get that 100% guarantee that I'm safe. And it's affecting my life in a very not so nice way.

Sometimes (a lot of times lately) I fucking hate my mind.

Aside: I have no idea about the photo. I plonked in 'la folie de doute' in Google and there he was... who can I resist a naked man, with a handlebar moustache, riding backwards on a dead cheetah while holding a sword?


  1. Are you actually afraid of going mad, which is the result of catching it?

    I can tell you it's treatable. The issue is believing me....

  2. The issue is not about believing you or not. It's about uncertainty, doubt and acceptance of risk.

    Rabies is only treatable before symptoms begin... but how do you know if you've got it or not prior to the onset of symptoms? And, once symptoms begin, it's too late for treatment, you're deadmeat.

    There are specific ways one acquires rabies and it is very rare. This however does not give my OCD a 100% guarantee. It does not give my OCD certainty that I will not acquire it, especially as there have been a few cases of rabies where the cause was 'inconclusive.'

    This is what my OCD is currently grabbing ahold of and goes what if?, what if?, what if? I can accept the (far greater) risks of driving, walking the city, most normal risks in living but this one... my OCD has latched on to.

    It's the uncertainty. Uncertainty of not knowing whether I have caught it or not. The uncertainty of not knowing whether I will or not. And that uncertainty and doubt, that folie de doute that is currently paralyzing me with fear.

    I don't expect people to understand because I know it's sounds fucking nuts. I am very aware that is does. That is also why OCD is such a pain in the ass. It's a gremlin in my head that does not listen to me or to reason yet its affect on me is very real in terms of fear, anxiety and a mounting sense of hopelessness, especially because of this relapse.

    If I could just ignore it, I wouldn't be having a problem this problem called OCD.

  3. Don't interpret that as tirade against your comment Jayne! Your comment was a good springboard for me to define more precise OCD.

    And wtf are you doing up so late, Ms Texas Hold Em? ;-)

  4. I'm most definitely not saying ignore it but you have little choice, you have to challenge your thoughts or let them wither by ignoring them.

    It fairly obvious at the moment that you cannot ignore them so that leaves challenging them with reason, which as we know is tiring in the extreme.

    No tirade, just clarification, no probs.

  5. No knowledge whatsoever. I'm not arguing from an informed pov at all.

    Just a long time talking to people with major life problems.

    At the end of the day, you can understand the reasons to the nth degree but it doesn't change the situation you have to live in and with.

    I suppose I am advocating an acceptance route.

    Feel free to ignore.

  6. I'm not sure where my previous comment went? ('where are you getting your info about OCD and its treatment?'... or whatever I wrote)

    But anyways...

    I don't expect people to understand OCD. Most psychologists don't understand OCD unless they've specialize in anxiety disorders.

    OCD is complicated and paradoxical. What works in 'real life' can sometimes be counterproductive when dealing with OCD.

    I understand OCD and my current situation quite well and you're right that doesn't change my situation. It's precisely because I understand where I'm at, that I feel very fragile and easily overwhelmed with what I'm facing. It feels very difficult to be me right now.

    When I post my thoughts, I'm not necessarily fishing for advice. Though I like feedback, different perspectives, humourous smart-arse comments, motivational ideas, etc... it often just feels good to press 'send' and shoot my thoughts out into space.

    I hope that makes sense.

  7. I didn´t quite get all of that to be honest but I guess that doesn´t matter. Life is risky. Always.

  8. It does make sense but I don't think what I said was advice, it's just a sumnation of the situation, as I see it with limited knowledge.

    My response is the same as yours, press and send really, but what you say does affect the people who read it so they will always respond.

    You are doing all the right things, you just have to keep going.

    Anyways, what do you expect from someone still awake at 6.30 am...:)

  9. I think I have an inkling of what you're dealing with. I have a fear of heights. It's irrational and I know how silly it is when I'm in a high-rise apartment and am convinced the windows could pop out and take me with them, the balcony will break and fall taking all with it and if I go close to the edge I will want to jump off. Of course I won't as I'm unable to approach with in 6 feet of the windows and can no way go out on a balcony and get really frightened when anyone else does.

    I know it's an irrational fear and just live with it and avoid buying stilettos and making friends with people who live in high-rise apartments.

    Seriously though, I imagine this is something like what you're dealing with, only on steroids as you say and hard to avoid as it is all encompassing.
    Bummer eh.

  10. I cannae imagine what you're goin through, having only ever suffered minor bouts of anxiety and depression. What helped me at those times was the chance to talk openly about it with a knowledgeable and independent councillor.

    The patience and support of friends helped a lot, as did the memory of a time when i wasn't anxious or depressed and the realisation that i could feel that way again.

    You stick in, Ms TB.

  11. Well put Naldo..... 'light at the end of the tunnel'.... It can disappear to a faint glimmer sometimes, but it'll come back brighter and stronger Marnie.

    Not for you Marnie, but for anyone who's interested to get an insight into OCD.

  12. Hey Marnie,
    I'm often beseiged by odd worries and one mind trick I've learned to play on myself is to imagine a future me (after whatever I've worried about would have already occurred) telling my present self that nothing bad happened and very lovingly saying that I shouldn't waste my time upsetting myself over it. This has worked for me. No one told me about it I came up with it on my own. I don't know if it would work with OCD or your particular worry of rabies (unless you pictured a sassy old lady you) but I thought I would share this with you in the small hope that it might help and to let you know you're not alone in having irrational worries. Hang in there, girl. Love, Sarah

  13. Thanks peeps.

    I know I'm going through a rough time and I know it's not permanent (it better fucking not be!).

    I just have days where I feel at the bottom of a very lonesome valley and that where I want to be is on the other side of very tall, sharp and pointy mountains.

    I do see a light. I do not want to give up. I know I'm capable of smashing this OCD shit into the ground. I've done it before. I have testicles the size of grapefruits in many ways. I'm just having difficulty gathering up my courage... And wondering, where did it all go?

  14. chrome3d - I think you understand completely. "Life is risky. Always." That's perfect!

  15. Grapefruits?....... No wonder the feckin shorts exploded!!!! ;-)

  16. Hi Marnie. I've held back on commenting as I wasn't sure what I wanted to say. Apart from trust you to be different... esoteric perhaps.

    I think the rough time and the decision to confront the OCD thing go together. In deciding to act then you have to open up the box and let the demons out. Pandora's box had hope remaining, right at the bottom of the box.

    The grapefruit are a worry though.

  17. Ha! That's it! I lost my testicles with my shorts while jumping into Thetis Lake!

    Perhaps my courage can be re-found in the produce section of my local Thrifties... I will be there later. I will buy some more testicles.

    Testicles... testicles... testicles...

  18. Who is this Pandora chick and do I really have to dig around in her box?

    Thanks, Mog. I'm hope there is hope for me. :-)

  19. Pandora
    The first woman.(Greek mythy stuff) she was given a box and told not not open it. But she did, and all the bad stuff flew out but at the bottom of the box was hope.

    So no personal box delving required on your part. Phew

  20. Do you know what started the rabies thing? What the trigger was?? Maybe that is the crux of the matter

    Did you like the way I used 'crux' there? Bit like crotch init? and so stays with your testicles and box theme ;)

  21. I know who Pandora is! I just couldn't resist being lewd. ;-)

    Analysing the specifics of various OCD fears is generally pointless with OCD as it's not really about the object of the anxiety and thoughts that is the problem.

    It's the difficulty the person with OCD has in accepting risk and uncertainty (that is expressed in very focused situations). The object or focus of my fears and OCD thoughts has morphed and changed over the years. When I was about 26, I went through a period of being terrified of the possibility of stepping on a hypodermic needles. Now that thought doesn't even phase me. I've had fears of ebola, botulism, tetanus, etc... various shifting fears but the underlying difficulty, the core thing, is in accepting that 'Life is risky. Always.'. That is the common thread that runs through all OCD fears... having great difficulty accepting risk, in relation to what is feared.

    I willingly accept the (far far greater) risks in driving, doesn't bother me. Accepting the (very highly unlikely) risk of rabies... bothers the shit out of me, terrifies me. It's fucking nuts and I'm aware of how fucking nuts it must make me look. 'Why can't she just get a grip?' That is the most painful part. Knowing how crazy certain thoughts that I have are and feeling defective for not being able to brush them aside like people without OCD can. At least that's how I feel currently in this relapse - OCD flare-up.

    In more important news... I did not buy any grapefruits (too bashed up for the price) BUT! I did get a nice pair of fuzzy kiwifruits! Do I now have some cojones!

  22. Hmm,so,you're a bit of a worrier then......

    stands back and ducks and the same time

  23. today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday. yes I know it is EASY for me to say that, but I have found it is too true. You don't know me at all, I have just chanced upon your blog and am so sorry that you have such awful problems. best wishes, we do not have rabies in U.K.

  24. what about exposure therapy? lots of contact with dogs... the dirtier the better... and imaginign getting rabies and dying a painful death...this from someone with OCD. it's worked for me. 'face your fears and do it anyway'. good luck.