OCD?

I had a vague idea what OCD was for several years: knew about the condition before Tommy and me sometimes jokingly accused each other of having it. It was only recently, however, that I discovered I might really have it myself.

I bought Overcoming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder by David Veale and Rob Willson and began reading it. But while I’m sure I show symptoms for one kind of OCD, namely the “excessive concern with exactness, order, and symmetry” kind, I always halt when I read the word anxious. I definitely would not label my emotion when things are not ‘neat and tidy’ as anxiety: the correct word is annoyance.

But the authors brought my attention to another condition, one I had never heard of before: obsessive compulsive personality disorder, which has other symptoms I definitely show, like “constantly making lists” and more to be found in Wikipedia’s leader.

OCDP, then? Who knows. More probably than OCD; then again, I have not shed the suspicion that it may in fact be Asperger’s.

 

Overbreeding effect on climate change

A new study seems to vindicate a post I wrote two weeks ago. Apparently each child you don’t have saves 58.6 tonnes of CO2-equivalent per year.

The article as a whole gives me the impression that I must less of a burden for the environment than most people around me. I have no child, no car and never flew over the Atlantic. My being an omnivore and washing clothes in warm water look fairly unimportant in comparison.

 

Jamie’s 50

The technical details, the condensed description is in what I call my ‘log book’ – I don’t have the time to make it ‘literary’ enough for a blogpost. Still, a few reflections which would look out of place there:

The scenery from the Uplands on wasn’t bad. Not as good as in Scotland of course, but miles better than where I stay now.

I didn’t fully understand whether the event was actually organised by Jamie (who seemed to pay more or less all the expenses) or by Falcon (who seemed to be in charge of the ‘programme’).

Jamie and I were in the same class at college, but he’s eleven months older. The event taking place a few months in advance, I was celebrating his 50th birthday while still not having reached my 49th, which felt sort of weird.

Most of the participants seemed to be more or less ages with us, so it was surprising to see how many of them could no longer read the quiz questions from a printed page without spectacles (“too short hands”, if you know what I mean. Points is, I’ve been wearing glasses since before primary school, but luckily I’m still not troubled by this problem).

Conversely, I was surprised by the general knowledge of geography people apparently had. Indeed, at times I almost felt like quite a yokel. I probably knew much more than the others about Britain, as much about Western Europe and North America – and much less about all the rest of the world.

Most importantly though: I didn’t feel like I really belonged, but neither did I feel too alienated. I didn’t have too much conversation with my friends (let alone talked much about myself), but neither did I sit in a corner on my own. I made myself think about the event as an exercise in patience when I did feel a bit lonely/bored, as training for the rehab when surrounded by people I didn’t know and so on.

Unusually perhaps, I was neither longing to stay longer, nor longing to leave earlier (except perhaps when it was too cold in the evening, and even then only a little and only until we moved indoors). I was taking it quite equably, considering.

All in all, I was reminded that if I return there after the rehab things certainly ‘won’t be the same’, but my intention to try and do so was, if anything, reinforced rather than otherwise.

 

Feasag chuairteach

Chan eil fhios agam an e seo an dòigh as fheàrr airson a gairm (fìrinn innse, chan eil fhios agam an e ‘circle beard’ an dòigh as fheàrr airson a gairm sa Bheurla), ach tha mi a’ ciallachadh seo. Thòisich mi stais fhàs dar a bha mi dà fhichead bliadhna a dh’aois, a’ smaointeachadh gun tòisichinn fàs feasag chuairteach dar a bhiodh mi leth-cheud (agus gun sguirinn beàrradh gu tur dar a bhiodh mi trì fichead). Ach o chionn beagan mìosan, cho-dhùin mi gum bithinn ‘seann gu leòr’ a-cheana nam biodh mi as dèidh aillse a bhith agam. Uill, thuirt an dotair gur dòcha gun deach an t-at à sealladh, agus cha do bheàrr mi ach mo ghruaidhean bhon àm sin.

 

170712: Busy, busy day

Incidentally the twenty-second anniversary of the last time I had sex, but that’s irrelevant: what made it busy was all related to the near future, rather than to distant past. First the landlord came for the rent and I had to disclose to him I was about to leave soon: he took it surprisingly equanimously. Then I went out myself to the office of my internet provider: although it took some time, I finally did make the lady behind the counter fill in the contract termination form. After which I visited the local branch of the state department responsible for pensions and mined them for information about the possibility of getting some income on account of the consequences of the cancer and the cure: I even got the necessary forms, even though in the end we concluded it would be better to apply after my rehab stint.

It’s been like this for some time: days or weeks of having no appointments alternating with days or weeks of having several. But I was quite satisfied at the end of this one, because I did follow all the negotiations through without bottling out of anything. Rather unusual for me to be honest.

 

Pet Sounds

Saw a documentary about the Beach Boys and the Pet Sounds album and was surprised by three things. One, that I’d never before heard I Just Wasn’t Made For These Times, with its lyrics I can completly subcribe to (pity the music’s so bland though). Two, that Good Vibrations (possibly my favourite song of the band) doesn’t actually feature on the album. But most of all … why the fuck had I thought they were Australians? Who the fuck had I mixed them up with?

 

Shorts

Some English schoolboys protested against having to wear long trousers during the latest heatwave by wearing skirts instead, and apparently won their fight.

Good on them, but interestingly the photos show them in buttoned-up shirts and ties, which reminds me of all those guys wearing shorts, even sandals – and zipped-up fleece tops. I could never understand this. Maybe it’s down to my blood circulation, but as far as I’m concerned, the chest and neck get unpleasantly hot long before the legs. I’m more likely to feel comfortable naked to the waist, while below it wearing heavy-duty denims, thick socks and boots.

So I find it much more understandable when John Bercow accepts tie-less MPs in the House of Commons.

 

Latent male chauvinism

The other day I began reading a short introduction to Hinduism. It’s a topic I know pathetically little about, considering; however, the first surprise had nothing to do with the religion. The forename didn’t warn me, but it soon became apparent that the author was a woman. Now the rational part of my mind always insisted that generally speaking, neither men nor women were more able in any intellectual task than the other sex. Yet now I immediately felt a slight irrational disappointment, as if the writer’s being female meant in itself a lower standard of the writing.

Perhaps the next time I come across another stupid remark by some chauvinist (whether male or female) I better remember the mote in my eye before smirking at the beam in theirs.

(Incidentally, soon after she mentioned she was also a Quaker. Which at first felt sort of reassuring, but on second thoughts, it shouldn’t do that either. On the other hand, the author’s gender does influence the outcome: when describing the Ramayana, much more attention is paid to Sita than to Rama, let alone to Ravana.)

 

Daniel Freeman, Jason Freeman: Anxiety: A Very Short Introduction

Needless to say, I knew a fair amount already (or suspected, like the role of having had “overprotective or controlling parents” – I had overprotective and controlling ones). Needless to say, I learned a fair amount of what I didn’t know (eg that environment is generally more to blame than genes). And needless to say, the book hardly gave me any advice except the obvious “maintain a healthy lifestyle; if this doesn’t help, find a CBT therapist or have some pills prescribed”.

The only thing which really surprised me was my results from the self-assessment questionnaires. Not the social phobia one (19 out of 68 possibly indicating the condition: I scored 35). But the fact that I scored much higher for OCD (21 out of 72, me 33) than for generalised anxiety disorder (60 out of 80, me 60). I pondered this and concluded it’s probably correct. While I’m definitely a worrier, and while I’m not know for exceptional cleanliness or ‘hoarding’, I’m probably more prone to obssessive-compulsive ‘checking’ and ‘ordering’ than I’m willing to admit to myself. Now, there’s something I might probably work on …

 

Sìona fhiadhaich

Cha mhòr nach bidh mi a’ coimhead air iPlayer gu làthaireach an-dràsta, sa chiad àite air prògraman co-cheangailte ri Alba ’s an Rìoghachd, ach cuideachd air prògraman aithriseach gun cheangal riutha. O chionn ghoirid, thachair mi air sreath mu dheidhinn nàdar ann an Sìona, agus bha e gu math intinneach. Dhìochuimhnich mi dè cho eadar-dhealaichte, dè cho allamharach agus a bha an saoghal fad às sin.

Ach dè cho bòidheach ’s inntinneach a tha e, chan eil mi ga ionndrainn. ‘S toil leam ga fhaicinn air an TBh. Ach ‘s e dùthaich dhachaigheil seach allamharach air a tha cianalas orm. Cruth-tìre is craobhan is lusan is ainmhidhean is eòin is bailtean is . . . is daoine Albannach. No co-dhiù Breatannach, no Frangach, no eadhon Lochlannach amsaa . . .

 

Words of the year?

I must really be quite out of touch with the mainstream. Not only had I never seen the word post-truth before reading that Oxford Dictionaries chose it for their ‘word of the year 2016’. In the shortlist I only recognised hygge and Latinx, and those because I’d read some other articles discussing them (as opposed to using them). Brexiteer, coulrophobia, adulting, chatbot, glass cliff, alt-right and woke (in the sense described) were as unfamiliar to me as the Japanese words mentioned in another recent OD blogpost.

 

PET/CT scan

All the jabs, cannulas, radiotracers and whatnot troubled me none. But the 18 minutes of the PET scan, with nothing happening save for the bench on which I lay moving (ever so slowly) through the scanner, were eternal. Once again I was on the verge of breaking down, giving in and interrupting the process. Of course it’s psychosomatic – there’s no pain, you just wait motionlessly while the time drags on … and on … and on – but knowing that doesn’t make it any easier. To think I’m in for a few dozen radiotherapy sessions like this, shorter, ten-minute ones, but with the claustrophobic mask on my face … the only hope is in the old saying that one gets used to everything.

 

Quote: Andrew Marr about keeping a diary

I write a diary every day and have done for many, many years. It’s a kind of idiotic schoolboy diary, “Got up, sun shining, had eggs for breakfast, very tasty” – that kind of diary. I ask myself why I’m writing it. And I think it’s an act of kind of mental hygiene, a sort of throat-clearing every day, a tic, a habit, and also, of course, outrageous vanity.
 

(From the first programme, “James Boswell”, of a BBC Two series “Great Scots: The Writers Who Shaped a Nation”)

A quarter of a century out of college

On 5 July it was 25 years to a day since I left KSK, the student hostel I’d been staying in for the five previous years. I would revisit a few times while some of my former crowd still remained there; there would be quite a few trips together and other reunions; to this day I keep in – however rare – contact with a handful of my former college mates. And I still consider those five years (plus the next one in the National Service) as the best days of my life. But somehow I don’t reminisce about them all that often nowadays. And the handful of old friends are the only ones from that period that I’m still interested in meeting with. Somehow … somehow my three years in Scotland overlaid those older memories.

The KSK days were the only ones in my life when I felt like I really belonged where I was. An indisputable insider within a community I cared about. They were the best: no two ways about it. But the Scottish days were the second best … and they’re much closer in time.

 

8 years online

A lot has happened since my last post like this. Once again, I’m living on the Net and only ‘occurring’ in the so-called real life. Unlike before my migration attempt, however, I’m mostly just observing what happens, without communicating much with anybody even online.

There is the nice portmanteau netizen, created as a blend of net and citizen. It would be nice if there was a similar blend made from net and hermit (what about nermit?), because that’s what I feel like now.

 

A handful of people

There’d been no contact between Lùc and me for over a year, so the other day I deleted his email address from my Thunderbird address book. And I realised there’s only a handful of people left to me.

There are many I still enjoy reminiscing about. There are many I lost touch with long ago. There are many about whose present lives I might like to hear. Nevertheless, for various reasons I’d rather not reconnect with them; I certainly wouldn’t be interested in meeting most of them.

There’s only a handful of people I really care about left, and fewer whom I’d really prefer to sit with and talk to to sitting here alone at my laptop: Jamie, Falcon, Rob and Tommy. Maybe Ziggy and Köln.

An old, sad, burnt-out sod. And I’m not even fufty yet . . .

 

St Mungo’s Day, 2016

I get knocked down, but I get up again, you’re never gonna keep me down.

(Chumbawamba: Tubthumping)

 

And then I experienced a change of perspective.

For months I had been reconciling myself to the story of my life being over, with just the epilogue to live through. But depression and hopelessness are like fear and worries. You can only bear so much. One day you either break down under them altogether, or you observe with some surprise that they no longer bother you.

Back in ’99, after months of tension, I suddenly found myself relaxed again. Two weeks ago, after months of dejection, I suddenly found myself content again. And instead of intending to simply conclude what remained of my days stuck where I was, reminiscing on my own about the past, I found myself resolved to try and get back home again.

I’m not deluding myself. I realise I probably won’t succeed. (Besides, that depression and misgivings will recur.) But I’m determined to try; I have a purpose and I feel alive once more. More alive than ever since my exile began anyway.
 

Incidentally, the fact that this happened on St Mungo’s Day is completely coincidental, just like its also being Stephen Hendry’s birthday. So were the tautology of that ’99 day and its being an anniversary of the battle of Flodden. But I guess that similarly to those, these new ones will make me remember the date even after years.

ETA, 13/1/17: Coincidental too the fact that one year later this would be the first full day I’d spend outside the hospital after the chemoradiotherapy stint there.

 

Bereft of favourite music

I loved you when our love was blessed, I love you now there’s nothing left but sorrow and a sense of overtime. And I missed you since the place got wrecked, and I just don’t care what happens next, it looks like freedom but it feels like death, it’s something in between I guess: it’s closing time.

(Leonard Cohen: Closing Time)

 

Having no future has its advantages: nothing disappoints you; you have nothing to worry about; it’s a relatively effortless life . . . Still, the disadvantages prevail: you have nothing to look forward to; you experience no strong negative emotions, but neither you experience any strong positive ones; in short, you don’t live – you just plod along, waiting for the end.

One of the unexpected disadvantages was that I found out I could no longer listen to most of my favourite songs. Except for those by determinedly melancholic authors like Simon and Cohen, all of my best-loved albums feature one or more songs firmly associated in my mind with some pleasant memory of the days when there was still some hope left. They could have hurt too much: I became afraid of what I had loved best and began deliberately avoiding it.