Monday, April 27, 2009

gay with ocd...does that mean you're fabulously organized?

So, in reading some comments on an earlier blog (which, forgive me, I did not even know existed for a few weeks after they were posted), I noticed someone had asked me to talk about being gay with OCD…That was in February. I’ve been pondering the connection in my life and if there even is one since then. While this will not in any way be a definitive or exhaustive answer and certainly not representative of all or even some lesbian OCD’s, inquiring minds wanted to know…

I have had OCD since I was a small child. The counting and ordering have been around since at least the age of 4 or 5, and I can remember being absolutely panicked when certain routines were interrupted--more so than just your random little kid. It got progressively worse for a while, and there were times when it waned. During times of crisis, it could be nearly unbearable, but either my family was incredibly inattentive or just didn’t care because no one ever really noticed. They did love that they never had to tell me to do my homework or clean my room…

Around the age of 11 or 12, I realized that I was looking at girls the way I was “supposed” to be looking at guys. Being raised in the extremely religious Deep South, this lead to what is so far the worst period of my OCD--the near six year stretch of scrupulosity and intensification of my other symptoms as well. (In case you are unfamiliar with the term, scrupulosity is basically religion-specific OCD.) And of course, as an aside, this was also the worst stretch of my depression, complete with a couple of half-assed suicide attempts. Some would say that it wasn’t scrupulosity but just hyper-piety. But I can tell you that there is a very distinct difference between the two…and I had scrupulosity. I spent most of my teen years poring over my youth bible and absorbing evangelical and pentecostal hate speech like oxygen. I made time schedules down to the minute--when to pray, shower, read the bible, eat, do homework, you name it. TV was whittled down to some very specific times and shows. In retrospect, I can see that all of this was to make sure that I didn’t have time to think about girls in any way whatsoever. I drove one of my closest friends, who was already out, absolutely nuts trying to save his soul from what I was sure was the eternal damnation we were going to share. I cannot tell you how many times I was saved. (I call it being the terminally redeemed) Each time I would feel so much better and cleaner, if that makes sense, but then I would begin having the “bad thoughts“ again, and I would need another booster shot of the holy spirit so to speak…but around 17, I thankfully finally accepted that I am gay and there’s nothing wrong with that. The scrupulosity faded away, and I became Pagan. Then I just had the regular OCD with which to contend.

So, what the hell is the point of all that? To tell you the truth, I’m not entirely sure. Denying my sexuality to myself and everyone else helped cause one of the worst times of my life, but that isn’t unusual and not specific to gay people with OCD. What impact does the one have on the other now? I am constantly aware of what compulsions I am doing in public, because I don’t want to look crazy (although I’m sure the very panicked look in my eyes when I suppress the compulsions makes me look really sane). And I think that in that is some desire to make my little lesbian life look as normal as possible. The public at large think we are some sort of strange race sent down from another planet with no resemblance to them or their lives at all. In my mind, it’s like, if I can somehow convince them that gay peoples’ lives are just like theirs, maybe we’ll gain an ally or two. Obvious crazy people actions will not assist in this. This is not an entirely reasonable thought though much more sane than many of my theories. It probably makes some symptoms of my OCD worse to concentrate so hard on concealing them, and looks very much like the hiding-the-lesbian-inside thing from earlier.

I am still working through the connections between my OCD and my gayness. This was likely not very coherent, but not much of what rattles freeform in my brain is. I would be very interested in hearing other gay OCD’s talk about the connection in their lives. so, please, if any of you are reading this, feel free to comment or email me…my inquiring mind would love to know…

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Hoarding Intervention! the Sequel: I was afraid this would happen

Okay...I just left the community shredding/recycling event a bit ago, and I am at the end of a minor but distressing panic attack. I was okay yesterday, but then again the papers were still in the house, just in bags ready to go. I was even okay on the way there and when I handed my big green tote bags to the attendant, but as soon as I heard the shredder start and he handed back my now very empty big green bags, I realized the papers were actually gone beyond my retrieval. Then I began to panic. To my insane little mind's credit, it was a relatively minor panic, but a panic nonetheless. I had to pull into the gas station down the street to calm down bef0re I could drive safely. And over what? Articles and papers that I have on the computer and random, useless stuff that we really didn't need. I hate this. I hate feeling so damn crazy over PAPERS for jeebus sake.

What's worse (and what worries me) is that we're supposed to do our major room purge next weekend. How in the hell am I going to get rid of big stuff when two bags of paper give me a panic attack? I tried to go through the bookshelf today, because it's one of the more major projects and very time-consuming. I did pretty good considering--two large tote bags full of books to trade, but they are still in the house. Books are one of the hardest things for me to get rid of...I'm always afraid that I'll need it once I trade or donate it (and this has happened a couple of times--so justification!). Not to mention that I get very attached to books. I give hours or days to a narrative, whatever it may be, and I make some sort of weird connection. Therefore, getting rid of books=putting a kid/pet up for adoption...(crazy math, gotta love it).

I've said this before, but it bears repeating: The worst part of OCD is that we know we're nuts and are aware that the things we do are completely unreasonable, but we can't do a damn thing about it. It's aggravating, stressful, and honestly, very very scary sometimes.

Hoarding Intervention! or the Minor Paper Purge and the Larger Purge to Come

Tomorrow there’s an earth day related free community shredding/recycling event at the police station. So, Anna had jury duty today, and even though I have three final papers to write, I decided to stay home and clear out some of the backed up paper in our room. I went through the file crate and the gargantuan stack of articles and crap that five semesters in an OCD home will create and came up with two reusable shopping bags full of paper. The fact that I was able to get that much and manage not to have some sort of panic attack (YET) is phenomenal. Usually, I would have been digging through the bags pulling “important and irreplaceable” documents from the jaws of doom. Yay me…a sign of the OCD getting better? Maybe, or maybe just a short respite.

Today was simply a precursor to the major purge happening next weekend (Goddess willing and the creek don’t rise) in which we will be going through every nook and cranny of our incredibly small and way overstuffed room and purging our lives of all the unnecessary and unused stuff we have accumulated.

All of this is, of course, related to the relatively low-grade hoarding (compared to other symptoms) that accompanies the rest of my OCD insanity. There are other, non-OCD reasons I hold on to, well, everything, including childhood traumas and incessant moving, but it hasn’t really been all that serious (again, YET). But I have a thing about holding onto every single paper relating to school, and there are so many bags, purses, and wallets in the closet that I cannot begin to explain it. The bookshelf, as usual, is a monstrosity. Unfortunately, we don’t have the time to mount a yard sale, so the books will be traded to powell’, paperback rack, and my favorite books and the other random stuff will likely go to the refuge house thrift store. I think once we clear the mountains of clutter out of the cave, I will feel much better and be able to function better in there. The only problem lies in actually convincing myself to get rid of the stuff. Here’s hoping…

the flaming liberal weighs in

I will be the first to admit that I am not the most politically savvy person, hence the reason I am a women’s studies/religion major and nota political science major. I also do not follow the news as closely as I probably should. When something seems particularly important or I happen to catch something that pisses me off inordinately much, whoever follows me generally knows it. But in general, I do not take up blog space with much political commentary. I am about to make an exception. Kathleen, my apparently much more politically aware friend, tagged me in a face book note, and I shall respond. (To read the original note, go to )

It is no big secret or surprise that I voted for Obama. At the very least, he was the lesser of two evils, and at best, I thought he might possibly make good on at least a few promises. (Of course, anyone with half a brain cell functioning should realize that no politician does everything s/he says s/he will do while on the campaign trail.) I am under no delusion that he will actually do a great deal to improve my immediate situation in which I find myself classified basically as a second-class citizen. However, I must agree with Kathleen on at least one point.

From the moment Obama chose Rick Warren to pray at the inauguration, I felt trouble brewing. Rick Warren is an odious creature I have not one positive comment about, and I will therefore continue on my way. I will say that it was a huge slap in the face to the glbt community, much of which backed Obama from day one, to have someone so opposed to our welfare presenting anything significant at any government function. He also, as Kathleen pointed out, has not even made mention of the atrocity known as the defense of marriage act. I never believed he would walk in and throw same-sex marriage at congress on day two, but bare minimum, I did expect some sort of civil union talk by now.

In short, I am still hopeful about the Obama administration. Michelle planted a vegetable garden at the white house and refused the agri-business suggestion of chemicals--pure organic, baby. I heard he replaced some government vehicles with hybrids. But on the issues closest to my interests, he has yet to show much promise. All the gay community can do now is watch and wait…

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

water is a right...

i have been doing my level best to be as green as possible in our current living situation. we live with my mom, stepdad, and little brother, none of whom is particularly green-minded. however, we do what we can. i've stopped using plastic bags at the store and started using the reusable kind. i bought a water filter and stainless steel water bottle to cut out the bottled water buying when i'm on campus. in other words, i'm trying. all of this is to say that it aggravates the ever-loving crap out of me when i see companies being willfully anti-earth.

last night, i caught most of flow: for love of water, a fabulous documentary, on sundance. i hate that i missed the beginning and most of the middle, but the parts i saw were enough. the film goes to several places in the world including india and bolivia to investigate what basically amount to abuses of water. in india, coca-cola started bottling and ruined the local water supply within 6 months. the water was so bad that it made your skin itch and burn when used for bathing. they finally ousted the bastards. in bolivia, the world bank threatened to withhold water development grants and other money unless they privatized the nation's water. suez (one of the 3 big private water management companies from europe) took over , and instead of actually building the multi-million dollar treatment facility they claimed to have built, raw sewage was directed into a river which emptied into lake titicaca. closer to home, nestle (owner of pure life, deer park, zephyrhills, and at least 3 more water brands) came into a michigan area and promptly cause water levels to drop to insane points. they also pumped so much in zephyrhills, florida that sinkholes began forming. utter disregard for the land and people on it in the name of profit.

this is not really anything new, unfortunately. but it doesn't mean we shouldn't be pissed...the filmmakers started a petition to add a 31st artcle to the UN's declaration of human rights...

"Everyone has the right to clean and accessible water, adequate for the health and well-being of the individual and family, and no one shall be deprived of such access or quality of water due to individual economic circumstance."

this isn't that hard to understand...despite the fact that many claim not to...go to and sign the petition...and watch flow...because water is a right, not a privilege.

oooh, a scam

it's that time of year again...finals, and that means buyback season. in case you don't know, at the end of each semester, the bookstores buyback textbooks for cash...for some, this is just extra drinking money and is just an easy way to get rid of textbooks they don't want and/or need anymore. for others, such as myself, this is much needed budget padding. not to mention that some of us actually like the books we use in some of our classes, and we realllly don't want to part with them. in fact, i have been known to sell a book in a moment of particular brokeness and then have to buy it right back because i need to use it. but when you are flat broke, this seems like a logical solution. the problem lies in the bookstore...

let me the beginning of this semester, i purchased a ton of books, but i'll use three as an example. one cost $35, one was $40, and one was $50, give or take a dollar. so, those three cost me a total of $125...we happen to be extremely po' right now, so i trotted them over to bill's bookstore. i walked out with $6 and one of the books. now, i didn't want to sell these three books to begin with, so it's twice as bad. i lost $119, and the bookstores act as if they are doing us a huuuge favor.

now, i have worked for a campus bookstore before. i know that the amount offered depends on whether the text is being used again, whether they have too many already, and oh, i don't know, whether the crow is flying south southeast...i understand that they are not in this to actually help us. they are here for a profit. but give me a freakin break. bill's gave me $6 for two of those books. okay, so one of them is being used this summer, which means they will sell it for around $30 or $40, making 7 or 10 times what they gave me for it. the other is not being used, but they will send it back to the publisher for credit or money. basically, THEY SCAMMED ME as they scam all of us every year. what's worse is, some of us have no choice...we need the a nutshell, they have us by the short and curlies...and there isn't much we can do about it...

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

grad school: the nightmare begins

i am in panic mode...i have to take the gre this summer, apply to grad schools in the fall, save enough money for us to be able to move next summer, figure out what the hell i'm going to write in all those "statements of purpose", and of course, manage to graduate from here with a shred of this even possible, i ask you? oh, and there's the issue of which schools...i definitely would not mind moving back to alabama, even if only for a couple of years...but if they don't take me, my other options are not pretty...atlanta, gainesville, or california...eww, double eww, and omg ewww....*sigh*

Thursday, April 9, 2009

book life 3: jesus is coming, look busy

Rapture Ready!: Adventures in the Parallel Universe of Christian Pop Culture by Daniel Radosh

I picked up this book because it's tangentially related to my honors thesis topic...evangelicals in any capacity fascinate me anyway. And given that I grew up in what I've always called the area directly below the buckle of the bible belt, this is a culture not unfamiliar to me. Radosh, on the other hand, was in completely new territory. His book covers everything from the growing American obsession with virginity to Ultimate Christian Wrestling, a new one even on me. While most of the topics covered were amusing in an odd sort of way, they were also frightening as hell. Evangelicals are one of the most politically and socially vocal and active groups in the United States, as can be seen by the fairly recent Prop 8 and Amendment 2 fiascoes in California and Florida, respectively. The fact that their creeds and manifestos are slipping into everyday usage without much of anyone noticing is more than scary, it's dangerous.

Take the chapter on virginity...Radosh quotes a book by pastor Dale Conaway called Sex: The Spiritual Laws in which he calls the hymen a sacred seal put in place by God. "If the seal is broken, it can reveal an intruder was present and that product tampering may have taken place." [emphasis mine] First, a woman's body is related to a home, a structure for someone else to occupy and fill with what they see fit, and is then likened to a PRODUCT, an object to be bought and sold. Problematic does not even begin to start to maybe cover this. This is all part of the insistence on abstinence as the only option for unmarried people. It gets bizarre and even more appalling when he continues into discussion of sex ed in public schools.

We all know that the religious right has a sincere problem with anyone learning anything about sex that involves more than "don't do it", but what most don't realize is that the abstinence only groups that have won and are teaching, are handing out flawed information. A 2004 report on commonly used abstinence curricula found that 11 of 13 of them had misleading or just plain false information. Some of the insanity includes: "pornography causes brain damage and premarital sex depletes a chemical necessary for forming a permanent bond with one's spouse". The doctor that came up with that last one was appointed to run the Bush administration's women's health programs.

Definitely a worthwhile and useful read for anyone interested in evangelicals and the spread of the insanity they breed.

just a note

so, i got these grants--one for books from the honors office and one from the undergraduate research office, and i had to go to a luncheon for the recipients on tuesday. dr. erndl went with me, and it honestly wasn't as bad as i thought it would be. i was, not surprisingly, the freak in the room...these were all people that i more than likely would never hang out with...but it was nice on one count.

dr. erndl and i were talking to mrs. dummer from the honors office about how undergraduate research is undervalued and not really supported for the most part. it was cool to be in a room of people that understood the simple need to find out why and supported it.