Things to Write - What Can Happen in a Second

Sometimes I feel like I have some form of OCD. Is that normal? Maybe that's normal when you already have a diagnosed mood disorder that you aren't actively (medically?) treating ("just" major depression with a few accessories, so clearly something I can leave alone, clearly) and the understanding is that these sorts of problems typically only get worse. Regardless! The point is, I will sometimes find myself checking and rechecking something (especially somethings that involve knowing "how many" somethings there are) because I feel like I've forgotten or miscounted. I second-guess my own mind constantly, but because I can't exactly remember if I've already second-guessed myself before (...was I counting something else, perhaps? Did I miss one? Was that number a two or a five? Maybe a three of an eight...?), it just keeps happening over and over again. Or maybe three times. Five? Maybe four. Definitely more than once, but I suppose that's kind of a given.

It's technically a problem, but it's one I try not to fall into that often --I don't use change when paying for things; I only play board games involving counting if the things being counted are easy to break down into non-confusable numbers or symbols, or, barring that, if my husband or stepson are around to do the counting for me; I don't do a lot of specific math for fear of messing it all up or getting stuck counting and recounting until I make myself cry; and, in a similar vein, I don't leave the house much in case I get confused over something, especially on "bad vision days."

The math thing is the worst on days where my eyes decide they don't want to focus properly -- hell, everything is worst on a day when I can't properly see. On "good vision days," I can see individual leaves in the trees, their edges clearly defined and awe-inspiringly beautiful. On "bad vision days," I can lose Robin in a store and spend what feels like several minutes stumbling around in a haze made worse by encroaching tears. It's hard to explain because I can *see,* but I can't see *well.* I wouldn't trip and fall into anything or go out an in-door, but the finer details are completely lost and makes getting my bearings incredibly difficult.

On the plus side, "bad vision days" mostly only happen during times of intense stress. On the downside, that throat-catching hyperventilating panic has started to bleed over into "normal vision days" and, like their "bad" cousins, makes it increasingly difficult for me to comfortably go out in public without the worry that my vision will essentially fade and I'll be alone and lost. It's disorienting and smacks horribly of losing your parents in a department store as a toddler.

When I'm willing to go out in the world, I will eventually shed my panic and start looking at things -- you know, the way people do when they're in a commercial paradise. Inevitably, I lose sight of my husband, and the dread creeps up my spine as I stand on tiptoes or look up and down aisles searching for him. It always takes longer than you'd imagine to be reasonable, especially considering I had the great fortune of marrying a very noticable man -- he's a big guy with a bright orangy-red beard and a penchant for wearing hawaiian shirts and interesting hats. There are many like him across the world, but usually there are few enough in the immediate vicinity that it's simple enough to pick him out of a crowd. When I find him again, I lock on and move strategically toward him, panic held at bay knowing I haven't accidentally abandoned myself (since I'm normally the one to initially walk away).

I move with speed, taking the shortest route possible in order to push my anxiety toward a downward spiral. I zip around people, rush down aisles, get a few steps away -- and then --

This is where a second makes all the difference.

Let's step back for a moment: we leave me there, a step behind my husband (his back to me, reading the back of a dvd held in his hand, his torso clad in a blue Hawaiian shirt, head covered in a tweed newsboy cap), one my hands extended to make my presence known by way of a friendly back rub. There's the initial pang of relief washing over my face, but there -- right  there -- in that split second before contact is made, complete panic begins to resurface. But why?

This same thing has happened in movies over and over: a kid gets lost during Christmas and looks around wildly and sees their mother's coat! It's brown, they know, and has that fur lining that's slightly darker in color, so they chase after that coat...then, after they've happily tackled the knees of the person believed to be their mother, they reel back in horror and realize they've just chased down a complete stranger! The child then runs off and all number of terrible Hollywood-movie-things happen before they're ultimately reunited with the missing parent. End scene.

For me, it's back to the counting problem, which is ultimately a noticing problem -- is the person I'm about to touch in a very personal gesture of affection wearing the right shirt? Is that the right hat? Am I sure Robin's beard is that color? Did I just completely forget what he looks like, even after all of these years? It's a panic-packed second, and it's completely unfounded given I've never taken down the wrong person. But it happens. Every. Single. Time. And it happens mere instants before contact has been made, even if I've spent the past several minutes making my way toward him with my eyes locked securely on the back of his capped head.

It doesn't matter how many chances I've had to make sure I know it's him, there's that one single zap. "Maybe I'm wrong, maybe it's someone else, maybe I'm about to make a complete fool out of myself and scare the crap out of this poor person." I can't tell if I'm lucky or not that this happens as my body is relying on momentum to propel me the last few centimeters toward making contact. I don't know if it'll ever go away. But that second is strong enough and solid enough that it can fully throw off my emotional groove for the rest of the day. 

Let it never be said I don't take the tiniest of things seriously.