Anybody that knows me well enough will tell you – at least off the record – that I probably suffer from what is popularly referred to as, “Obsessive Compulsive Disorder”.
I obsess about a lot of things. Always have and probably always will. And what’s weirdly interesting, at least from my somewhat blurred perspective, is that it doesn’t seem to be getting any easier to let go of my obsessions with age, either. On contraire, really.
Many years ago, when my younger brother suddenly passed away and I needed to vent and mitigate the emotional stress that ensued, over the course of three months, I spent about an hour a week talking to a respected therapist here in Malmö.
During this tough, but ultimately helpful period, I spoke to her about a wide range of topics – including my obsessive and compulsive behavior.
During one of our sessions, she asked me to describe in detail what a typical day in my life was like. As I laid out my daily routines, I found myself also explaining how utterly maniacal and über-focused I usually was whilst working on my projects – particularly those with insanely short deadlines. How I was constantly competing with myself and doing whatever it took to reach my goals and exceed both my own and my clients’ expectations. I’m sure this is a typical work ethic for all types of freelancers and consultants. That’s not to imply that everyone who is not employed has OCD…
– It’s passion, I told her. I am passionate, as a photographer, a writer or, pretty much whatever it is I’m doing. That’s why I love to work, feel that sleep is such a waste of time and ultimately, often feel burned out after completing a project.
My indulgent therapist sat there quietly for what seemed like several minutes. Finally, she looked me straight in the eyes and said bluntly:
– Joakim, you are confused. Passion is enthusiasm in reasonable moderation. What I believe you have, is a pretty serious malfunction in you life. A disorder that makes you compulsive about whatever it is your currently obsessing about.
The view from our dining room and the family lounge here in Västra Hamnen is absolutely world class. And though we’ve lived in this particular condo for more than six years, I don’t think I’ll ever grow tired of having the sea just 20 meters from our front door, the beautiful Öresund Bridge as our own spectacular backdrop and the sun setting beautifully somewhere behind Copenhagen.
I’ve interrupted many, many dinners with friends and family, run outside with my standby camera bag, just to add another mesmerizing sunset to my burgeoning collection of sunsets from Västra Hamnen.
Though most folks can’t tell or don’t care, each sundown does have its own distinct uniqueness – all depending on a multitude of factors, including weather conditions, time of year, choice of lens, etc, etc.
I often think back (not obsessively, though) about what the therapist said to me that day – now, more than a decade ago. Admittedly, I now try hard to pace myself before launching into each new project that comes to me during morning showers or, after five cups of industrial-strength java at Green.
I’ve never been much of a pill popper and my experience from folks that rely on psychotropic medication lose their edge. I’m not saying their zombies. They do seem to have an aura of light haze or fog surrounding them.
So I subsequently don’t think there’s much hope of ever purging myself completely from the grips of the obsessive compulsive disorder I’m possibly suffering from. Meditation helps. As does maintaining a healthy body and mind. And if I can keep my disorder in check and still obsess just a little about sunsets, so be it!