Acquiring a New Phone, OCD Edition

Last week I finally, and, I’ll add, rather triumphantly, replaced an iPhone that I’d tolerated for much longer than it’d made sense to.

Before I proceed, I’ll acknowledge that yes, I’m supremely aware that what I describe are problems that I’m extremely privileged to be in a position to whine about. With that out of the way, I’ll unashamedly carry on complaining.

There were many reasons I was overdue for a new phone. The screen of the one I had was cracked; I’d been eligible for an upgrade for months, perhaps over a year (I stopped keeping track); significantly cheaper and better plans were available to me; and my phone was frustratingly, almost mockingly, slow. I was, furthermore, in the habit of admiring other people’s more modern devices, both jealous and a little angry that I couldn’t get over myself.

Here’s the thing: for me, acquiring a phone isn’t as simple as figuring out what I need given my usage patterns, financial position, preferences, etc. and then making an informed decision within a reasonable timeframe. Nope. This is because there’s always—and especially now, when it’s particularly out of control—my OCD, the severity of which fluctuates on a scale from “nagging voice in the back of my head that I can manage using skills learned over decades of therapy” to “incapacitating,” to contend with.

When it came to this phone, a relatively major purchase, I was inclined to err on the side of passivity because of a recent experience trying to replace an old MacBook Air, which was/is truly on its last legs. After months—years, really—of equivocating, I bought a new one in December. It was beautiful. Gorgeous. I loved it.

I found it nearly impossible to touch, though, and a few days after it arrived, it became clear that I couldn’t handle its mere presence in my apartment. My husband and I sent it back to Apple. (Thank goodness for generous return policies.)

I worked with my psychiatrist to come up with some practical strategies and made a second attempt a few months later, promising my psychiatrist, my husband, and myself that no matter how distressed I felt, I’d keep the shiny laptop.

I’ve remained true to my word and haven’t returned it. Since I continue to use my ancient, failing computer 98% of the time, however, I can’t claim any great victory.

This is all to say that I was wary when my husband very generously brought up the idea of a new phone. If this was going to work, I’d have to move forward in a manner as friendly to my OCD—and as realistic about where I am right now—as possible.

My biggest and best idea was getting a certified pre-owned device. This way, I can pass off the blame for any small scratches or dents to someone else. I get really caught up in checking behaviours, and I’m considerably less likely to check (and check and check) for “defects” inflicted by other people. OCD is weird.

So far, so good. It hasn’t been completely smooth sailing, but I’ve felt much more comfortable with this phone than I do with my MacBook Air, which is currently a fancy source of guilt at which I periodically gaze.

I guess this is an example of successfully meeting myself where I am. I’ll send you a few weird emoji to celebrate.


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