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Forget regret, or life is yours to miss
When one door closes, another opens; but we often look so long and
so regretfully upon the closed door that we do not see the one which has opened
The two main hazards of psychoanalysis:
that it might fail, and that if it succeeds, you'll never be able to forgive
yourself for all those wasted years.
It's not the burdens of everyday that drive men mad. It is
the regret of yesterday and the fear of tomorrow. Regret and fear are twin
thieves that rob us of today.
Recently I have been rather preoccupied and driven by an increasing urgency to make whatever life I have left to me a more fulfilling and worthwhile experience. However I continue to suffer from OCD and now in addition other maladies have added their toll. Therefore it is unrealistic for me to raise my hopes too high, as indeed I have tended to do in recent years. Coming here to the north east were the cost of living is cheaper, the people more friendly, and my husband taking an earlier retirement after being made redundant so that my he could stay at home with me for as long as possible, has not bought the relief from my illnesses that I had anticipated. Nor has it bought the few rather more satisfying years of idyllic peace that I had hoped for when as my son put it; I could "skip in the poppy fields" in peaceful abandon. Such of course will never happen as the mind of the OCDer and indeed any other sufferer of anxiety will not give one a minute of peace anywhere.
Yet whatever our negative circumstances need we necessarily consider that our lives have been wasted? Rather perhaps we should consider that whatever we have achieved either for the betterment of another or ourselves has been achieved despite the serious limitations that afflict us. Perhaps we should not view successes or failure, satisfaction or dissatisfaction, or joy or pain from the perceptive of a normal functioning person. Perhaps we should consider that which we have achieved or the satisfaction we have experienced however small has been accomplished despite overwhelming odds, odds which others who are of a normal disposition when faced with fear and anxiety on a daily often minute by minute basis, would soon be overwhelmed by. How many so-called normal people have achieved much in life anyway even when all circumstance have been favourable, how many actually even give it much thought!
In my constant struggle with adversity to find happiness and satisfaction I can often overlook the occasions when I have done something worthwhile and because of my illness I may have actually done more than others less incapacitated. If we examine our lives most of us will find something to feel satisfied about. As I look back at my life there are times when I did have some happiness for instance when I enjoyed a walk along the beach when I did not fear contamination by peoples over friendly but out of control dogs. I can still recall when my mind was my own, at least mostly my own as indeed I have had OCD virtually from the very beginning. Nonetheless I found a good caring husband and I have a wonderful son. Although he is now sadly becoming ill also, he is nonetheless a son to be proud of, he is artistic and intelligent and with the occasional exceptions is easy to get along with. I have not had any of the trouble that so called normal people have had with their children.
Anyone who has read my memoir will realise that most of my life has been consumed by this malady and there have been long periods of extreme incapacitation when little of any worth was ever achieved, when the frustrations of wanting to function normally even to accomplish quite mundane tasks such as washing the dishes was thwarted by my OCD. I recall the sadness of wanting throughout such adversity to do something for others and when the local catholic church wanted members to knit squares for blankets I tried to do this one simple thing, but sadly failed as extreme fears of causing harm by contaminating others prevented me from knitting these squares. I tried so hard to keep these squares contamination free but no my OCD mind would tell me they had become contaminated. But at least I tired and with all the best of intentions.
I have had many many years of overwhelming incapacity during the best years of my life during the time during which most people achieve whatever it is in life they attempt to accomplish if they achieve it at all. I was thwarted and inhibited by this illnesses that divided my persona: part of me was a normal functioning person just wanting to live a normal a life, I did not have great ambition, just to be a homemaker and have a family was all I ever really wanted, yet because of OCD even this relatively simple ambition was hindered. Life has not been at all easy yet during all this I have accomplished many things, nothing much by normal standards perhaps but we are not comparing our accomplishments with so called normal standards. In fact perhaps we should consider that in many ways we may have actually achieved more if we consider the obstacles we have overcome in order to do even small things that others can do without thought, such as have a holiday for an agoraphobic or work in a charity shop for an OCDer with contamination fears such as I did for many years. Yes it was difficult, sometimes I went home washed and changed or went in special clothes but I did it nonetheless for nearly ten years and it was only the headaches that finally curtailed my voluntary work. My sister completed that beautiful African design quilt Sadly the graphics can never really convey the intricacy and level of achievement she attained despite overwhelming fears including actually getting to the college with agoraphobia, social phobia and fatigue as a result of her anorexia nervosa. The completion of this work was her crowing achievement, it was a piece of work that surpassed many of those completed by the more able students. And to blow my own trumpet - and why not few people will blow it for you - I have completed a functioning web site despite crippling checking obsessions involving written work because of fears that the content will cause harm, or I that have actually written something offensive that could cause serious harm or simply just to make sure it is as grammatically correct as my knowledge allows. It has taken hours and hours of checking and more checking; hours of doubting should I say this or that or perhaps it is better that I do not say anything at all! Moreover struggling with the technology has made my neck condition worse as result of repetitive strain injury because of the enormous amounts of time it has taken mainly due to the battle from within. I canít organise my washing or go shopping or indeed anywhere alone; I live in fear and frustration as vast amounts of my time and my mind are consumed by OCD and it's increasing demands and sometimes due to all the stress I cannot recall the smallest of things, notwithstanding these obstacles I have created this website. Also I have struggled to paint and draw often thwarted by fear of causing harm by toxins. Yes I have to wash my hands quite a bit and sometimes my clothes and I do avoid some of the more toxic materials and perfectionist tendencies spoil it for me along with indecision interrupting my creative ability. Nonetheless I persist.
I know I come over as a hopeless case and it looks as though for the most part the OCD has won. Nevertheless if I think about it I have done something with my life it has not been entirely wasted. And so did my sister and many many others like her. Take a look at the gallery all the creative work consisting of poetry, visual art, patchwork, photography and creative writing, each of these inclusions was accomplished by someone with an anxiety disorder or other mental health problem.
A lot of what has occurred in my life has been negative and most of my writing in my journal is not uplifting or encouraging however I have tried to balance this by including something positive on this website: The gallery. When I check the statistics of website traffic most hits have been on pages with a more negative content. Why is this? Why do we all have such a tendency to focus upon the negatives rather than the positives, the failures rather than the successes? Yet we do and this is not just an anxiety disorder thing either: most of what we read in the newspaper or see on TV is negative. Dwelling upon negativity seems to be a universal problem. So please check out the more positive aspect of this website and contribute your achievements this need not necessarily be creative accomplishments, for instance it would be so wonderful to have some positive stories about your successes no matter how large or small.
Regret for time wasted can become a
power for good in the time that remains, if we will only stop the waste and the
idle, useless regretting.