Taking Up Resources

Being an environmentally conscientious person, I want to minimize my use of resources. Desiring to be eco-friendly isn’t a bad thing at all, especially when there are tons of products out there that can help the planet. However, when Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) takes over, a desire to help the Earth gets twisted way out of proportion.

When things are normal (aka I’m going to school), I usually don’t have much of an issue using the resources I need to live. I definitely do feel guilty, but I rationalize it by arguing that studying for a job that helps others justifies me using the resources I need to stay alive. I still try to avoid excess waste, but I continue to function on a normal level.

In residential treatment, I was again struck by my resource consumption, but in a different way. If someone was having a hard time one of the Residential Care Specialists (RCS) would work with the person one-on-one. I noticed that sometimes so many people were anxious that the RCS were overloaded. I made a point to try to minimize my inconvenience, often not asking for assistance even if I was struggling. If I did end up asking for help, I waited until I saw that they weren’t busy.

Fresh out of residential, I was consuming resources at a normal level, until school got shut down due to the coronavirus. I no longer was productive in the eyes of my OCD, and I concluded that I should minimize the resources I consume. I started limiting my food consumption to cereal twice a day.

While I know food is needed to live, my OCD had put me in a mindset where I felt I had to “earn” my food. The only two things my OCD considered productive enough to deserve food is school or working. Without either of those, I basically shut down. Not only did I have issues with food, but I had trouble functioning at all.

I’m so fixated on school that I’d spend my time laying in bed thinking about school, because it felt slightly more productive than doing something not school related. I became so distressed with the lack of school that my OCD convinced me that I should go on a hunger strike for school. In my mind I was doomed without school and I couldn’t just sit by and let it happen. I felt like I had to do something, anything, to try to get school back.

I ended up being sent to live with my other parent, who could make sure I ate because they are currently working from home. I found some online classes to do, which was definitely giving into my OCD, but with the classes I was able to sort of function. I was put on a limit of the online classes I was allowed to take and how much I was allowed to do in a day, and my school finally went online right as they ran out.

While the crisis where I felt I couldn’t use resources is over, I am not in a very good position. If I don’t have a job come summer, I will fall right back into the same issue. Now aware of the distorted thinking around food and productivity, I will undoubtedly work with my therapist to develop exposures to challenge my OCD. I won’t be able to do school/work every day for the rest of my life (at least I shouldn’t), so I was just made aware of this issue a little earlier then under different circumstances.