Monday, June 05, 2006


The subject of ovulation, and the powerful surging hormones that are often associated with it, keeps coming up these days. I wrote a post back in March called Panic Song where I describe a horrible panic attack that I'd recently suffered and conclude that it was somehow tied to my first ovulation after discontinuing the birth control pill.

It's no secret that I have my fair share of neuroses. There is my, by now, well documented fear of fire. I'm also nervous in cars and planes. I have, like every other woman that I have ever met, my fair share of body issues. Probably my best known neuroses is my compulsion to keep a clean house. It's seriously borderline OCD and I know it. Most people find it funny, a silly personality quirk, and most of the time I look at it that way too.

After all, if you can't laugh at yourself, what can you laugh it? But, there definitely times when I do not find this compulsion funny at all. I find it utterly overwhelming. I find it impossible to have a normal day, to enjoy a normal conversation or sometimes even sleep normally when I'm having what I consider to be an OCD "episode".

These episodes have always increased during PMS, but now that I'm post-pill, I'm realizing that they are at their worst during ovulation. I've been thinking for some time about how I can adequately describe what these episodes feel like for me, and I think I've come up with two scenerios that will do the trick. I chose two, because the way that the compulsion affects me is two-fold.

1) It affects the way that I view my home.
2) It affects the way that I feel when I'm in my home.

Scenerio #1
I'm sure you've often heard the stories of severe anorexics when they say that when they look at themselves in a mirror, they see a fat person staring back. We try and try to understand, but can't. How could they possibly think that they are in any way anything but bone thin?
When I am having an "OCD day", I look at my house and see dirt, dust, filth and germs. I see it everywhere. Anyone else that has ever been in my home can't understand it. "It's spotless," they'll say, they will eat off my floors. They laugh and shake their heads, just relax already! Drop the Swiffer! I know it's funny and ridiculous to others, but people, I'm telling you, I can't relax! I can't relax until I have vacuumed, changed sheets, washed floors, polished glass. Why can't I "just relax already?" See scenerio #2.

Scenerio #2
Here's how I can best describe what it feels like for me to be in my house when the house has not been cleaned, particularly during PMS or ovulation. Have ya'll see the movie Jarhead? You know the scene when the oil fields go up in flames and the Marines gets rained on with oil? They are dripping and filthy and covered in oil and sand.
Imagine that's you. Covered in oil and sand. Imagine how you feel. Now imagine walking into your living room and sitting on your couch. Are you relaxed? Can you imagine just sitting there sticky and sweating and having your friends say to you, "forget about showering, just forget it you freak, you look fine. Sit down, relax, have a glass of wine!"
Can you imagine growing tired and crawling up the stairs to your bed. No shower, no change of clothes, just snuggling up under the covers, oil and all? Are you relaxed? Can you just "forget about the oil" and enjoy the moment? I don't think that you can.

This is how I feel during one of these overwhelming obsessive compulsive moments. Logically I know the house is not so bad. But something filters the way that I see it and a house that yesterday looked spotless and tidy suddenly seems crawling with grime. I'm told time and time again that I should just leave it, it looks perfect, why don't I just let it go and relax. I want to scream during these particularly bad moments. "I'm dripping with oil and caked in sand! I can't relax, can't you see?"

Before you conclude that I have completely lost my shit and start calling around to have me committed, I'd like to reiterate that this is only when my episodes are at their most extreme. On "normal" (as if) days I might be annoyed by a mess or drag the Swiffer around a little more than the average soul, but I'm in control.

Hormones are an amazingly powerful thing. They can create miracles. Anything that can actually guide us through something as complex as reproduction is not to be fooled with. This is Mother Nature's way of reminding us that she was always meant to be in control. But let's not forget, as a society we have decided not to let Mother Nature rule. We have taken our lives and our destinies into our own hands and told her, "Thanks Moms, but we'll take it from here." Whether we agree with this direction of society or not is irrelevent, it is just how we exist today. So, sometimes, we need help to suppress or control what Mother Nature intended for us. Birth control pills, umbrellas, cars, pesticides, antibiotics.

I don't feel like I'm in a place where I need medication to control my compulsions, after all, being clean might annoy some people but it certainly isn't hurting anyone. (Okay maybe Crown's back after all the scrubbing and vacuuming. Sorry Babes.) But if ever it came a time where my panic attacks or my OCD were seriously interfering with my ability to live a healthy, happy life, I'd be the first in line. Sign me up and tell me when to swallow. Mother Nature is beautiful and should be admired and respected, but we can't count on her for help anymore. We've pushed her away too many times.

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