Over the last few days we have seen the world caught up in terror over the tragic events in France. The way I feel is reminiscent of 9/11, though not as intense. Still, at times I find myself walking around in a bit of a daze, with that feeling of anxiety churning away in my stomach. My heart goes out to all those who have been directly affected by these horrific actions.
I watched the news reports as they came in. I heard survivors interviewed. I heard detail upon detail. I saw pictures. And then I did what I should have done earlier. I shut off the television.
For me, the current media is too much. It’s too graphic, with far more information than is necessary for most people. Of course, this is just my opinion. This is not a criticism of news reporters. I realize many of them risk their lives to make sure the world has accurate information. I’m just saying, for me, it’s too much to handle.
Which of course makes me think of those with obsessive-compulsive disorder or anxiety disorders. How are they affected? How do they maintain their well-being during times such as these? Do they, like me, avoid the news as much as possible?
Anyone who has had treatment for OCD has likely heard the phrase “avoidance is never the answer.” I even wrote an article about avoidance as a compulsion four years ago.
This is different. I don’t think avoiding potentially triggering news reports is the same as avoidance as a compulsion in OCD, where those with the disorder avoid people (such as friends, loved ones, or acquaintances), places (such as malls, certain buildings, public restrooms), and things (flying, driving, certain clothing – anything!) that might provoke anxiety. Maybe I’m wrong, but I feel that avoidance as a compulsions limits your world and strengthens your OCD, while avoidance of these news reports I’m talking about allows you to keep your world going; to continue on with your life.
Even without following the specifics, events such as those of the past days can obviously cause many of us, not just those with OCD or anxiety disorders, to become rattled. What do we do? What can we do?
I don’t have the answers. I try to continue to see the universe as friendly and not focus on the negative. I try to accept the uncertainty of life, not get caught up in the “what-ifs” of the past and future, and just focus on what matters most – the present. Neither of these is easy to do when we are surrounded by so much turmoil and suffering.
So I continue on the best I can, as we all do. And I hope for peace. I’d love to hear how those of you with and without OCD deal with these times of crisis.
Maybe we can help each other.