book review: Just Checking

By Emily Colas

Erica, my sister, tells me that she thinks I have an anxiety problem. What does that mean? I worry too much.

Personally I think I have got a pretty good handle on things. There are two categories: things you can control and things you can’t. If it falls into the former, I worry, if not, I don’t. Easy. But a lot of things fall into that first category. What can I control? I don’t really know.

My aunt thinks I worry about Grammy too much. Erica has given me that lecture too.

I am reading Just Checking by Emily Colas. Written in 1998, the book is billed as “Scenes from the Life of An Obsessive-Compulsive.”

“Recipe for a Worry: Take one pound morbid preoccupation and mix vigorously with one cup overactive imagination. In a separate bowl, add one-part hypersensitivity to three parts increased hormone activity. Fold together and let stew for hours on end.”

This pretty well describes how I worry. Everything is fine, and then bam I am worrying about having cervical cancer or why Grammy is not answering the phone or whatever.

There are a group of maladies that seem to all run together: OCD, Turrets Syndrome, and Aspberger Syndrome and all are present in my extended family. Not to mention my father’s mother, and then dad’s ability to think about an event so much that they could remold what happened in their heads into the story that they wanted. No matter what controverting evidence you might bring to the discussion, dad remembered what happened and his version was the correct one.

The book really zings the reader. You can see the train wreck coming as can the author. She know she is acting crazy when she is worried that she might develop a blood born illness from touching the TV screen when there was blood on a TV show. But she can’t stop worrying about it.

Now I want to know how her life has turned out: has the internet helped her? She can look up all of the things that she would call doctors about. Of course there are other maladies to learn about out there too on the internet.

This is a great book for getting into the head of someone with OCD. And I feel bad for her that she can’t just let some of the things go. At one point, after the TV incident, her husband yells at her (something like this, I can’t find the exact quote now…): “If you get sick from the blood on the TV show then you will die.”

Which makes me feel like all of her issues, and I know my anxiety issues, revolve around dying, or rather not wanting anyone you know or yourself to die. This appears to fall into the “can’t control” pile, which is where I am going to work on leaving it.

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