Wednesday 23 August 2006

crazy in the coconut

That’s it. I’ve had enough of this and I’m going to seek some professional help. I think my brain has always had a tendency to latch onto some of the smaller things in life and then refuse to let them go, but it’s now getting silly. I’m sure everybody goes through phases where they worry if they’ve locked the front door, left the gas on or forgotten to put the handbrake on in the car. I’ve done all of these things, but the one that has really been wearing me down is my obsession with my glasses. I wish I could be one of those people who picks up a pair of specs from the optician and then wears them for the next couple of years without giving them a second thought. I wish that I could wear them easily without worrying about the fit and fretting about whether or not they’re rubbing on my nose or riding up over my ear. I wish I could learn that they only need cleaning when they are dirty and that a scratch on the lens isn’t important unless it obscures my vision.

I wish I could, but apparently I can’t.

When one of these things starts to play on my mind, I find it incredibly hard to forget about it. If I think that one of the arms is catching on my ear, then I will concentrate so hard on it that it feels as though all my senses are being focused on that ear. Of course, this makes it more or less impossible to tell if it actually is catching or not, and if I go into an optician and get an adjustment made, then I find I have become so hyper-focused on it that it will probably impossible to ever get the fit right until I just relax and forget about it. I find going to the optician a deeply humiliating experience because I find myself almost completely unable to articulate why my glasses feel uncomfortable, just knowing that they aren’t right.

It wears me out.

Like most people who are utterly dependent on glasses to see, I have a spare pair of specs at home in case of accidents. My spare pair are now quite old and are hardly the height of fashion, but in the last few months I’ve taken to wearing them every night when I get home and for most of the weekend. Why? Because they have glass lenses, and glass lenses are almost impossible to scratch. I am so obsessed with the idea of scratching my main pair – which have plastic lenses – that I would rather put them away and give my brain a break than wear them.

Of course, now I find myself worrying about the fit of my spare pair.

It’s time for this to stop. My logical brain tells me that this obsession is very unlikely to be simply about my glasses: after all, millions of people wear glasses every day and don’t seem to let it bother them. I cringe when I see people cleaning their specs on whatever comes to hand, but clearly scratching doesn’t bother them like it bothers me (I always use a microfibre cloth to clean my lenses). No, my obsession with my specs is probably a manifestation of some other problem – maybe the WTs – and I think it’s time I did something about it. I’m thinking about hypnotherapy to address the specific issue (‘look into the eyes, the eyes… not around the eyes, into the eyes” etc), but I’m also going to look into getting some psychotherapy to see if we can discover what I’m really worried about and to address the root cause.

If I believed what I saw on TV, then I’d think that every single American is in therapy. Maybe they are, but I don’t think I know a single person in the UK who has been to see a psychiatrist. Not one. What do you do? Look them up in Yellow Pages? Put your underpants on your head, pencils up your nostrils and say “wibble” and wait until they come to you?


  1. I think we all have wee things we obsess about.

    Like you, I absolutely itch when I see people cleaning their specs with the ends of their t-shirts and so on, I'm the same when I see CDs lying out of their cases.

    However, I think I'm simply anally retentive - and have too many times had to replace glasses, which I rarely wear anyway, preferring my contacts, at great expense cos I've scratched them!

    Funnily enough, I've had hypnosis a number of times to stop smoking. It cost an arm and a leg, as well as feeling rather silly, and I still smoke. I did dabble in a bit of counselling after my dad's death, and found it useful for ranting purposes, but reckon I'd be frightened of what a psychiatrist might uncover...

  2. I think this is one of those "Emperor's new clothes" moments, when you realise you have kept quiet solely because everyone else has kept quiet.

    I also fret about the fit of my spectacles. Or rather, I should say, my more fashionable pair.

    The ones I am wearing on at the moment I've had no problems with whatsoever.

    It's the other pair that's giving me grief. It's more fashionable so I take it wearing in on special occasions - except that I "feel" that they ride high on the left side and ride low on the right side.

    So I spend all my time trying to correct them.

    When I mention this to the opticians, I get an odd look from them, so I've stopped.

    Anyway, I'm one of those people who cleans his specs with whatever's on hand so at the moment I count no less than 4 scratches. >.<

  3. Sounds more like OCD to me. Can you not wear contacts?

  4. I was going to say "WEAR CONTACTS!" but it would appear that Mr L has beaten me to it.

    I mix and match. Glasses on day, contacts the next.. What ever takes my fancy.

    I'm careful with my glasses. I only clean them with a proper cloth and cleaning stuff and I always put them in the case when I put them down but... So what if you scratch them? Get some more. OK, they're not cheap but it's worth having a few pairs anyway...

    As you are careful, you're not likely to nadger your specs that often... Just take the rough with the smooth.

    OK, I realise that isn't helpful, but... I guess as I've worn glasses since I was 5 I've kinda got used to them and forget they're there.



    he he he

  7. I do wear contacts when I do sport or sometimes when I'm out and about at the weekend. I get on okay with them, but my eyes are slightly dry and I find it hard to wear them for much longer than about 8 hours - less if I'm in the office and doing a lot of VDU work.

    As for new glasses - that addresses the issue of scratches on the lenses, but only until I get my first ones on the new pair. It doesn't address the mania about the fit. I also seem to have terrible trouble finding a frame I like.

    I'm getting worse too. I'm sure I never used to have no problems like this. I could wear and forget. Not any more.

    You're giving me a lot of very rational suggestions for a problem I know isn't rational. I'm also pretty sure it's not actually about the glasses anyway - that's just where it manifests itself.

    thanks for your concern though - especially you adem!


  8. Actually, it's just everyone in California and New York who are in therapy (well, Boston might be up there too), but the rest of the US is pretty suspicious of therapy. My parents' understanding of therapy comes from the movies...

    As for people in England, well, I do know of one person who used to live in London that went to a counselor there. (Not a blogger...just in case that people start trying to imagine who in blogland it is).

  9. ST

    I speak here as someone (a) who lives near you and (b) who's husband is currently under the care of an (NHS) psychiatrist. I would suggest best way to access services is via your GP who can refer you in the right direction - if you have private Medical insurance via your (new) employer it certainly helps as if you are referred on to another sort of therapist (CBT in my old man's case)it only seems to be available privately, and isn't cheap.

    Please email me if you would like any more specific info - I feel like quite an expert nowadays - email address on my blog.

    P.S. I obsess about some things - but not my specs, possibly because I've worn them since I was 7 (not the current pair however!!)

  10. only joking! I have to wear specs for TV and driving.

  11. I sympathise with your spectacle foible - if you feel it is indicative of something else, then by all means approach a therapist and explore it.

    I have in the past seen a psychotherapist. I was recommended to her by my GP, although she practiced privately. It was a very helpful and interesting experience and something I would literally recommend to everyone.

    The GP is the place to begin, but there are also lists of accredited therapists kept at libraries and online. Try or

    If you want to talk about what it was like etc. I am happy to discuss it with you. Email me.

  12. Only about 75% of the US is in therapy. It isn't because we are that much in need of therapy, its just we see so many drug commercials on TV for drugs that we get sold on how bad we need to take them.

    As far as glasses go... I hate them. Not many things in the world I say I hate, but my glasses are one of them. Add to that, I am terrified of the thought of contacts. A thin little plastic disk on my eye scares me. So, I wear my glasses when I drive, and walk around blind the rest of the day.

    I tried wearing them more, but I have some of your problems. Not the worries about scratching or the cleanliness (I actually like them a little dirty, less reflection) its all the fit. They never have felt natural, and I find myself fidgeting whenever they are on.

  13. My mother's a hypnotherapist. She doesn't recommend hypnotherapy for things like classic OCD, but suggestion therapy can help with habits & mental blocks etc and a course of hypnoanalysis can bring all sorts of deep rooted issues to the conscious bit of the brain. Email me if you want more hypnoinfo... or indeed OCD info, as one of my best friends has this (to a debilitating degree, not exactly the same thing as you I realise) and has tried every therapeutic method under the sun so is well placed to offer suggestions.

  14. Oh, I saw a clinical psychologist for a while as well, many years ago. Sorry, forgot to add this bit in the last box. Can go into this too if you need general real life mental health stories.

  15. I actually would really like to see a psychiatrist. I suppose it's because I like talking about me.
    I genuinely would though.

  16. I am a proponent of everyone in the world having counselling/therapy. It is *great*.

    Your glasses thing is bordering on bonkers, though. Those of us who wear glasses/contacts and never clean them/worry about scratches etc dont understand this...

  17. You'd freak out if you saw what happened to my riding glasses today.

    I'll try to get a pic of them later.

    In the meantime, here's the result:
    photo here

  18. I'm firmly in LB's camp on both counts. I switch between glasses and contacts and don't bother much about either. While working with developmentally disabled kids, however, I did have to worry as they had the habit of ripping them off of my face, pulling on them and biting them. I bought scratch-resistent lenses on a flexible frame. Do they offer that there? Also, there are eye drops you can get specifically for contact-wearers to keep your eyes from drying out.

    As for therapy and psychiatry, I'm all for it. Not everyone turns to psychiatry because of drug ads; some of us have chemical imbalances that need to be treated for our own safety. Also, therapy and psychiatry aren't the same thing. You can receive counseling without seeing a psychiatrist or going on meds. Therapy of this sort helps one to sort out why they do the things they do so that hopefully changes can be made where they need to be, both internally and externally. For me, this process has been almost as liberating as the correction of my imbalance (bipolar disorder)has been. So if you feel that therapy is something you'd like to try, ST, then by all means see if and how it can work for you. :0)

  19. I always use the provided cloth to clean my SpecSavers(TM) issue glasses, and never,never use water or what is to hand.

    I also put my glasses back in the SpecSavers(TM) issue case too.

    Just to make sure I know where they are, really. At least, I think that's the reason...

    HELP!!! NURSE!!!

  20. Ha ha... All New Yorkers are in therapy. We're so neurotic that we need it! I think it's just a new form of religion. Not that many people go to church anymore. The therapist is the new priest.

  21. I'm with Flash, the thought of someone having to listen to me, about my problems, without me asking about their lives sounds splendid. Seriously though, this is the kind of thing that can be helped, take care of it. Good luck.

  22. You could always get your eyes lasered.

  23. "but my eyes are slightly dry and I find it hard to wear them for much longer than about 8 hours"
    I get quite dry eyes too. I found out recently that you have 2 different sorts of tear ducts, one set that produces watery tears and one that produces oily/waxy ones and the latter often get clogged up which exacerbates dryness.

    My optician taught my how to massage the tearducts to get the oily gloop coming out protecting the eyes. These ducs are in your upper and lower eyelids just along the line of your lashes so you need to apply a gentle pressure there (yes, this depresses your eyeball) and I find if I do this regularly, particularly after I've just had a shower, my eyes don't get dry so quickly.

    If you really do feel that you can't shift this irrational feeling then yeah, try to access some therapy. I do believe as has been said above that your GP is the usual route to get this service but if you can't be arsed with the frigmarole I believe each NHS trust has a list of approved therapists so you could get hold of that and just approach them directly. It might cost a bit more but if your GP is anything like mine...

  24. I can buy new glasses, but if I get my eyes lasered and I start to obsess and fret about it, it's a bit harder to buy new eyes.

    You can understand my reluctance?

    I've had a much better day today, if you're interested. Talking about it seems to have helped a lot.

    I'm going to try a free session at the local hypnotherapist (or hypnoanalyst, as I think he likes to call himself - thanks for the tip foxy) and see how I go.


  25. I agree with one of the postings above and recommend this as well:
    but I think you should see a psychotherapist rather than a counsellor. The work is more in-depth and more interesting, counselling tends to skim the surface. And forget about the NHS, they're useless.

    I do think it's the best thing you can do, it may be hard at times but don't give up. Therapy brings out the best of you and if you're worried about uncovering horrible things it's simply untrue. You will just uncover the reasons that led you to certain things or events that made you unhappy but overall you will just find out that you are a good person who needed a bit of help.
    Therapy is the best thing I've done to myself. Well done for considering it! And good luck.

  26. Just trying to catch up with all my reading that I've missed due to being away for a month. Was planning to read everything then comment at the end, but had to comment on this one. I think scratches on glasses was what you were talking about when I "Next blog"ged you about two years ago? Guess what: mine are worse than ever too and it's driving me Gnarls Barkley. It seems like the more expensive glasses get, the more lens technology advances, the more prone to scratches they are. Mine are covered in them and I rub them constantly but, of course, you can't rub away a scratch.

    With empathy