A combination of OCD and ADD has given me a bitch of a handicap: Living in the moment and being present has become tough as nails. Health experts call this elusive thing I search for “mindfulness.”
Here’s what happens:
When the OCD runs hot, I develop tunnel vision. I focus in on the task I’m either doing or thinking about. That’s good if you have a major work project to complete. It’s bad when someone is trying to talk to you and your brain is weaving a hundred schemes.
When the ADD picks up steam, I lose my focus. I’ll start thinking about a song I heard that day or how good it’ll feel to get into bed with a book. All while someone is talking to me.
I thought I stabbed this problem in the heart and killed it. On further reflection, I’m finding that the same problem has simply changed bodies like Dr. Who.
That in itself is still good, since the old persona was intense fear and anxiety that often incapacitated me. I broke out of that shell and life has been so much better as a result. But my current troubles are still painful.
Dealing with this issue has become the main focus of recent therapy sessions. I started bringing up the issue with my therapist because I’ve been realizing how unfair and hurtful zoning out can be at home. I don’t want to be that guy. And yet, for the moment, I am.
It’s not just a problem at home. Anywhere I go, when people are talking to me for anything longer than five minutes, I start to enter a fog. I still capture the main points of the conversation, but it requires heavy effort — effort that can be physically painful.
In recent weeks, I’ve considered what this handicap could cost me. My first reaction was to feel scared. That has settled into a low-grade anger.
Anger that I can’t just fix my brain and be done with it.
Anger that I have to do more therapy than usual.
Anger that the whole thing is exhausting me.
But that’s life. I have a problem, and I intend to beat it. And if I can’t beat it, I intend to figure out how to manage it.
At my age, I’m really not sure how much more I can fix. But even though I haven’t achieved perfection up to this point, the journey has been a beautiful one, full of experiences I never could have had a few years ago.
What lies ahead could be unpleasant. But as with past challenges, I may find gifts buried beneath the ugliness.