OCD and Transitions

"Transitions" by Arjan Almekinders on flickr

One of benefits of being a teacher is having long summer holidays. However, this also means the dreaded back to school period. And this means stress. The first week of school this fall term was rough for me. It wasn’t the new students, paperwork, planning, classroom management, or anything “normal”; it was the re-emergence of OCD and scrupulosity issues brought on by the stress of the transition.

I have learned to be more vigilent during times of transition. These are times when OCD can be the worst. Where there are times of instability and change—moving, changing jobs, starting/leaving a relationship—OCD seems to intensify. Unfortunately, knowing this doesn’t make it any easier to deal with. I consider myself experienced in dealing with OCD, and yet these past couple of weeks have not been easy.

Why do transitions and OCD often go together? I think it’s because stress and anxiety are closely linked. But not all types of stress. You experience physical stress from running a marathon, but this doesn’t necessarily increase your anxiety. The kind of stress closely linked with OCD seems to be phychological stress—things weighing on your mind. When you relocate, get a new job, or start a new relationships, you’ll most likely have new concerns: will I find friends here? Will I get along with my co-workers? Will I be able to handle the workload? And so on.

I remember when a youth minister told me that vacations were the hardest times for him. “Vacations?” I wondered. Aren’t those supposed to be relaxing times? He said that when it was time to come home, he finally felt like he was beginning to enjoy his vacation. I don’t think this minister has OCD, but I can sympathize with his comment. It takes time to transition. Transition involves adjustment. And sometimes the only thing you can do during such times is to hold on. Things will almost certainly get better.

How about you? How have transitions been for you?

[Image credit: “Transitions” by Arjan Almekinders on flickr]


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