During the initial stages of my hypochondria and the obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) that became associated with it, I decided to keep a sort of journal about all the compulsive behaviors that I developed. By looking up hypochondria on the internet I discovered that this was one of the things that fellow sufferers did. I was kind of pleased that we thought alike, because if it could help them, it would also be help me.
My shrink had suggested that I keep some kind of chart which I thought was too complicated, and just didn’t fit in with my personality. I tried doing the chart, but soon went back to my old journal style.
It is hard to explain why the journal works, but there is something about keeping a record, that makes you feel grounded, even if it is an irrational record of sorts. A typical entry might be the date, followed by something you checked out, and a comment that it was fine. Writing it down is reassuring, and OCDers always seek reassurance, although that reassurance can backfire, because it can perform the role of being an enabler.
I don’t suppose it’s really a journal, but more like a log. And heaven forbid that anyone read it. It’s not shameful, but sure is embarrassing, because manifestations of mental disorders are frankly embarrassing for the person who is doing the manifesting. That’s how I feel anyway.
The professional opinion of my shrink is that the journal keeping is good therapy. You know, writing in general is good therapy, but the journal isn’t exactly writing in the real sense. It is a list of worries, and verifications that the worries are unwarranted. In a nutshell, that’s what it is. It’s a coping mechanism.
One day I hope to be able to throw out the journal. Granted, it’s a testimony to my struggle, but not a very eloquent one. Maybe it would be good for some clinical purpose. A student of psychiatry might make use of it. To tell you the truth I would rather just do away with it, like some kind of cleansing ritual. I’m really looking forward to that day. Until then, my work goes on.