OCD and the Fitbit

Last summer, my mom bought me a Fitbit, which, for the unacquainted, is more or less a glorified, technologically advanced pedometer. The variety I got—the Zip—discretely clips on your belt, in your pocket, in your purse, or wherever else you choose to carry it and comes in a selection of colours to suit your preference. If you’ve read my posts on OCD, you’ve probably anticipated what’s coming next.

It was love at first sync.

The Fitbit defaults to a goal of 10,000 steps a day, and there’s a little face on the display that gradually progresses from “disappointed” to “ecstatically happy” as you inch closer to your objective. As an overachiever, however, my aim was always significantly higher. I took immense pleasure in seeing my superlative stats building in the accompanying iPhone app. This little device was built for people like me.

Look how small! Look how happy! NOT HAPPY ENOUGH!
Look how small! Look how happy! NOT HAPPY ENOUGH!

In Mom’s defence, I had not yet received an official OCD diagnosis at the time of purchase. How could she have known that my obsessiveness wasn’t just a charming (?) personality quirk, let alone that my particular version of the disorder is characterized primarily by behaviours involving numbers?

While my Fitbit and I were together, I only failed to reach my step goal when in the hospital. I’m not kidding. This would perhaps be an impressive feat if it were purely the result of dogged determination, and don’t get me wrong, determination played a major role, but there were clearly other, less noble, factors also at play.

So in a rare moment of self-awareness after a weeklong post-Christmas hospitalization, I told my husband to confiscate the Fitbit.

I’ve regretted it ever since.

The talented and funny David Sedaris recently wrote an article about his own, similarly obsessive, Fitbit experience. Aware of my complicated history with mine, several friends sent me a link. Though I think it was meant to be a cautionary tale, I finished reading it and sighed.

It’s been nine months, and I still want the damn thing back.

 

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