Do I Have Issues? Nope. I Have A Subscription

Monday, June 11, 2018

Image credit: Unknown Redditor
The impression most people have of anxiety disorder is discomfort at parties, or lying awake at night worrying.

The reality is that it's much more insidious and invasive. It makes things harder, more time consuming. It takes up space in every corner of your life.

Disorganization and clutter are a huge anxiety trigger for me. It also sends my OCD into overdrive. I spent a good bit of time and money last year purging and redecorating my office because of it.

I have a Pinterest board called Organization Porn.
It's full of fantasy scenarios like this.

My office had become a chaotic catch-all from a decade of prioritizing my special needs kiddos. It got to where I was having anxiety attacks just walking up to it. I would stand outside the door with my heart racing, trying to breathe, willing myself to approach my desk.

I had to start from scratch. But I'm still working on the purge because I cannot simply discard things I no longer need.  I will spend absurd amounts of time obsessively seeking a placement for any item, no matter how inconsequential, if it is still useful.

Emptying out the things I no longer need is easy because creating open space where once was clutter soothes my anxiety.

Finding homes for them takes time, but it's a necessity because if I don't the OCD would make me so anxious about I would regret it every day for the rest of my life.

Most of the piles in my office are things like boxes of family photos that go back generations because my relatives heard I was interested in geneology. Craft supplies for projects I've been planning for years, and have not yet given up on. Things that can't be discarded, and must be organized.

Those are easy. Organizing things is soothing. I get to buy a new storage unit? It's like Christmas!

But then there are the other things. Functional things.

Reference books I no longer need.

Craft supplies from projects I definitely gave up on.

And the one that haunts me worst of all...  a pile of unread Writer's Digest magazines dating back to 2008. (Spoiler Alert: I had my first special needs baby in late 2007.)

I kept insisting I would read them.

I would move individual issues to my nightstand... and then put it back on the pile after a month or two.

I'd think about recycling them.

I'd move the pile to an end table to force me to see them.

I'd think about recycling them.

I'd move the pile back to a corner of the bookcase.

I'd think about recycling them.

I've moved this stack of magazines around more times than I can count, insisting I would not fail in my sacred duty to read them.

I felt terrible guilt and anxiety.

I should read them. But they had become clutter.

I should eliminate clutter. But I should read them.

And around and around it went. For 10 years.

The voices that live in my head were pretty sure if I got rid of these dusty, decade old magazines, that...

  • I would be forever be branded as a failure at my profession
  • Everyone would hate me
  • The world would end

Not necessarily in that order.

My shiny new office is once again a cluttered catch-all, because family and kids and life. But it is much better. I eliminated a lot and organized more. But it's already triggering anxiety, and the magazines are one of the reasons why.

They became a tangible symbol of my mental illness.

I decided it was time to confront them.

Then... I waited almost 6 months. Because I needed to consult my therapist. Except I knew what she would say, and I had to give myself one last chance.

We all know I didn't read them.

I bit the bullet. Today was the day. I confronted the anxiety and I did the thing any reasonable person would have done 10 years ago.

Tomorrow is garbage day. The bin went out for the night as soon as I put them in. That guaranteed I can't let the guilt win and try to rescue them.

So... if the world ends tomorrow... sorry y'all. My bad.

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