I suffer depression issues and need to be in control. Well this month is the 3 year anniversary of two of my best friends deaths so I'm kinda freaking. Mix that with my boyfriend has been driving me crazy with little things like not really answering when I say things to him. I have always been bad about being in a room with friends and feeling completely alone and unloved, right now is worse then I have ever been. I am fight my ocd of touching or doing things in 5's.
A very stressed Ari
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[Note to readers: Ari and Papabear also talked in other emails in which Ari confirmed she has Obsessive Compulsive Disorder; she also said that her main question was how to relieve her stress.]
Your OCD is likely what is leading to your obsessing about your friends’ deaths and your boyfriend issues. By definition, you are obsessing about something that happened three years ago and about which you cannot do anything. While it, of course, takes time to heal from such a painful experience, “freaking” about it will not do you any good and is symptomatic of your neurosis. Likewise, you are probably obsessing about little things your boyfriend does that most people would shrug off as unimportant. For these two issues, Papabear admits he is not qualified to offer you any treatment (although it’s pretty clear your desire for “control” is a reaction to the death of your friends and desire to control the world around you so that such tragedies no longer enter your life), since this belongs under the purview of a trained therapist.
Therefore, as you and I spoke about in our other emails, let us focus instead on your alienation problem. I’m glad you brought this topic up, Ari, because it is a problem that I think is particularly pronounced withing the furry community.
What is “alienation”? Sociologist Melvin Seeman (no jokes, please—oh, all right, go ahead) defined six aspects of alienation, including:
1. Powerlessness: "Nothing I do makes a difference." "You can't fight city hall."
2. Normlessness: "Being 'good' just won't cut it anymore." "Nice guys finish last."
3. Meaninglessness: "I can't make sense of it all anymore." "What's it all about?"
4. Cultural estrangement: "My culture's values aren't mine." "What is 'success,' anyway?"
5. Self-estrangement: "My work doesn't mean much to me." "What I learn in school isn't relevant."
6. Social isolation: "I'm alone." "I don't fit in." "No one visits me anymore."
A lot of this comes from allowing others to define for you what is right and wrong, what is success and failure, what you should believe in, how you should behave, what friends and lovers you should have, even what god to believe in.
The solution is to stop listening to them and, instead, listen to your own heart and that inner voice in you that provides your self-identity and guides you toward what is right for you. Ari, your email does not provide a whole lot of information to go on, but Papabear also senses that you are feeling “alone and unloved” because you haven’t found the right people to be around yet. I mean, if you feel unloved around people who are supposed to be your friends, then why do you consider them to be your friends? The very definition of “friend” is a person with whom you have an emotional bond, someone you trust, an ally and companion. If you aren’t getting that, then they are not your friends.
The best way to counteract this is to find people in your life with whom you share interests and, possibly, even a background. Not to put too thick a coat on it, but have you ever talked to other people who have OCD? Shared a little with them and offered each other some emotional support? Also, you are a furry, so are you hanging out with other furries with whom you have other things in common?
Once you do this, your friends can do a lot to help relieve your stress by having someone to share with, hang out with, and bond with. Other than that, a lot of your stress is probably caused by your OCD, which is a very stressful disorder.
Seeing a therapist is the best thing for this, although in one of your emails you said you didn’t have the money for treatment. If you haven’t already tried them, check out the International OCD Foundation at http://www.ocfoundation.org/. The site offers some basic information, help finding a therapist, and also links to phone support and online help that appears to be free or low-cost to you.
I hope that helps you at least get a boost on finding some help, Ari.
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