Monday, September 7, 2015

OCD and Anticipatory Anxiety

My husband presented me with this card when I returned from my first OCD conference last summer. It perfectly captured the stages I went through. Except I'd change the title: 5 Stages of Anticipatory Anxiety.

I went through those very stages leading up to the trip I just returned from this evening.

The Cast: 

Laura - one of my closest friends; met online 15 years ago; lives in Spain; met her for the first time in person last year when she visited Canada 

Brandon - my husband; the man who knows how to select a greeting card

Clive - one of my two cats; the cat who would love an all-you-can-eat buffet 

Doug - cat two; Clive's brother; the cat who leaps into my arms when I return from work 

OCD - the prison guard of travel; the self-proclaimed psychic who forecasts the death of Clive and Doug if I'm away from home overnight; the fortune teller with a specific catastrophe of death by fire 

The Scene:

Laura's second visit to Canada; planned in advance. 

The Idea:

Drive to Toronto with Brandon; pick Laura up at the airport; stay overnight in Niagara to show her the falls; explore Orphan Black filming sites in Toronto the next day.

And finally, The Stages:

Denial: Why did I suggest staying overnight? Now my cats are going to die and it could have been prevented. I should have suggested another day trip like last year. 

Uncertainty: Well, I did suggest it. Part of me must have felt like I could do an overnight trip. 

Resistance: What did I get myself into? Why am I feeling this way over ONE night when I just went to Boston for three?! This time, though. This time the premonition will come true. 

Panic: This cannot happen! I need to change it to a day trip. No, even a day trip will result in the death of my cats. I need to cancel altogether! But how could I do that to my friend who I love and want to see?! 

Acceptance (Acts 1 through 3):
1) I'm taking the risk. It's scary but I'm going to do it. 
2) I'm with Laura. I'm here. The cats could die. But I'm here. 
3) I'm having fun. I'm happy I did this. When do I get to see Laura again?!

It happens every trip, the stages vary in intensity. It's not a straight line of progress. It's a total tango across the dance floor. Yet it's also predictable: I want to back out as the trip approaches; I go and surprise myself; the cats live. Yet what if next time the premonition comes true?

Laura's dream of seeing Niagara Falls came true. My dream is to take my power back and remove OCD as one of the main cast members. 

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