Sometimes obsessive-compulsive disorder gives me tunnel vision. I become self-centered. I focus on what I’m feeling and what I want or don’t want instead of other people.
OCD never completely goes away, and it can appear in any part of my life. It even showed up when I was trying to do a good deed.
The past two years, Larry and I volunteered to ring the Salvation Army bells outside a big box store here in town.
For just an hour, once the first year and twice the second, we stood outside the store and rang the small red bells and thanked people who put donations in the red bucket.
It was fun, and it really put us in the holiday spirit.
So we decided to do it again this year. I signed us up for two stints, and we did our first last week.
The bell ringers wear red aprons, the type with the bib and the string that goes around the neck.
When Larry and I relieved the people ringing before our shift, the man took off his apron and handed it to me.
I didn’t want it to touch me.
I had a coat on because it was cold, so I just put the apron over my coat, and then put the neck string under the collar of my coat to keep it from touching my skin.
Funny things was, Larry felt the same way. His apron had been lying folded up on the sidewalk beside the bucket. I helped him put the neck string under his coat collar, too.
Even with the string under my collar, I still felt anxious about it. I had to put my hand in the pocket to get the bell out, and I cringed.
I couldn’t wait to get that apron off.
I felt small and petty for worrying about such things when my real purpose was to thank the kind people who donated to the Salvation Army.
I try not to be selfish, but I’m not perfect. I have to accept that of myself.
But OCD has more than selfish moments. It has its funny moments, too.
Last year, while ringing the bells, Larry’s bell broke. The little piece of metal inside the bell flew off.
At first we couldn’t find it. I kept ringing my bell, and we kept thanking people, but the whole time, we were scanning the area for that little piece of metal.
And all I could think of was that the next people to ring would have only one bell.
My scrupulosity made me feel like I needed to “confess,” so I called and left a message for the coordinator, telling him we’d broken one of the bells and there was only one left.
Then we found the little piece of metal lying on the pavement in front of us, and Larry was able to fix the bell.
So I was soon back on the phone and leaving another message for the coordinator, telling him we’d fixed the bell and not to worry about it.
He probably thought I was strange.
But he called me again this year to see if we’d volunteer and didn’t mention it, so I guess that’s a good sign.
Do you ever get tunnel vision when dealing with OCD or other anxiety?