Monday, 10 June 2013
Pet peeves. Everyone has them. Everyone is annoyed by them. Some common ones that annoy me personally are using the incorrect form of "there, their, they're", people who squeeze toothpaste from the middle and leave the cap messy, and people who litter right next to a trash bin. Really? You couldn't take an extra step?
However, not everyone reacts to them in the same way. Those of us with a mental illness can take what would be a little annoyance to the average person and turn that molehill into a huge mountain. Someone with OCD regarding cleanliness will find it nearly impossible to visit someone else's home. I mention this example because frankly it's probably the most well known overreaction to a pet peeve. We even have reality shows dedicated to OCD'ers helping hoarders declutter and clean. We can see how dramatically it affects someone with a mental illness to be thrown into their own nightmare. I'm not a fan of these shows because I fear that most people who watch will see the OCDer as a freak, further stigmatising them. Watching someone have a panic attack is not entertainment to me. However, if the message gets across of what a challenge it is for someone with mental illness to face their fears and overcome them, then maybe it's helping our community.
I've always just chalked up my overreactions to pet peeves as a huge character flaw of mine. I'm now coming to realise I don't really have much control over my emotional responses to certain triggers. I can do my best to control my outward reaction, but often that just makes the internal reaction that much more painful. My journey of self discovery regarding my illness has just now made me realise this about myself. One of my biggest peeves is when things aren't put away in their place. I am by no means a clean freak, I just want things where they are supposed to be. And taking like items and placing them several different places, absolutely drives me nuts. All bakeware should be together, gardening tools together, pots and pans neatly nested. If you don't have time to put it away in the appropriate place, then leave it out. Unfortunately, my husband is a "I hate clutter but don't care where he stuffs things" kind of guy. It's maddening to me!
Since I'm just now realising these reactions are part of my illness (not the average normal person's reaction), I've been doing quite a bit of reflection. My poor husband is the recipient of my undiluted knee jerk reactions since he is the one who hates clutter and is perpetually tucking things away in odd places. As I started really analysing my behaviour, I started reflecting back on past situations. One time, while living with a girlfriend, I went into a complete tailspin trying to marry up a plastic ware bowl with its coordinating lid. You know the ones. All the companies make them slightly different so you have to use their matching lid. I'm sure most homes now have a ridiculous amount of these ever so handy items. Perfect for leftovers, crafts, etc., we cram them in every nook and cranny of our kitchens. On this particular day, my crazy head had had enough so I pulled all of the bowls and lids out of every cabinet (and yes they were scattered all over the place) and spread them out on the kitchen floor and proceeded to marry up like pieces. My roommate was howling as I cussed and threw lids without bowls and bowls without lids across the room.
Looking back on this day, and other similar instances, I now understand my illness causes these ridiculous, sometimes hilarious reactions. I just wish I could laugh about it all the time. My husband and I got into it regarding our garden sheds a couple weeks ago. I came completely unglued throwing things and eventually stomping off like a child. I went off to the woods and watched the ducks swim for a while to calm down. When I returned I apologised to my husband for my behaviour, but explained that I can't completely control my reactions. A normal person would rant for a moment then move on with their lives. I can't. I stew over why he keeps putting things away in the wrong places. Is he trying to mess with my head? Doesn't he realise how crazy in makes me? We talked about the situation. I explained that the clutter that bothers him pales in comparison to my emotional response to things being out of place. He promised to try and put things away properly for me.
I suppose it's somewhat good to now know these emotional responses are part of my illness, but it's also deflating. Just another thing that I have to be aware of and deal with. Is it any wonder so many of us our exhausted all the time and have so many limitations on what we can do?