(This is the eleventh post in a series called “Anxiety Society,” in which I interview everyday anxiety suffers from all walks of life about their struggles, their triumphs, their coping methods, and more. I believe that the more we openly talk about our mental health, the less of a “thing” it becomes. Conversation can reduce stigma, and my interviewees want to be a part of that.)
In my last post, we met Jemima Puddleduck — not the duck from the Beatrix Potter story, but a woman in her late-twenties (who enjoys creatively quirky pseudonyms) who lives in Brooklyn and deals with anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder. She was officially diagnosed with OCD when she was a teenager.
We left off last time talking about the rituals she performed before bed each night during her childhood years. (To catch up, you can check out the first part of the interview here.)
Our conversation continues below.
Now, you’re an adult. How’s the OCD these days?
The OCD is pretty much totally under control. I may double- or triple-check that the toaster is unplugged and the door is locked before I leave my apartment in the morning, but it’s nothing that gets in the way of living my life, just safety precautions.
There are small things… like alphabetizing my CD collection or organizing my bookshelves according to genre, but I think that has more to do with personal preference regarding organization. I don’t completely lose my mind if something is out of place…but I do have to fix it!
Does it manifest itself differently now that you’re an adult compared to when you were a kid?
A doctor recently told me that the “chemical imbalance” (or whatever it is) that manifested as OCD as an adolescent may now be manifesting itself in me as anxiety, which had never occurred to me before. I have scheduled an appointment with a psychiatrist to explore that further.
What did moving from your hometown in rural Pennsylvania to Brooklyn do for your overall anxiety level?
I think my anxiety would probably find reasons to hit regardless of where I live, but I can imagine if I’d stayed in PA most of my anxiety would probably revolve around whether or not I was getting the most out of life, living up to my full potential in my chosen career, “living my dreams” and all that stuff. I still feel a degree of that because I feel like I should be doing more, but at least I know I’m doing everything within my power to get there.
Is there anything about city life that makes you particularly anxious?
There isn’t anything specific about living in a city that makes me more anxious than a more rural setting would. My triggers are relationship-induced and confrontation-induced, which could happen anywhere.
In the final part of this interview, Jemima explains her triggers in more detail and provides advice for fellow OCD sufferers.