For me, OCD is not what they depict in the media. It’s not a quirky or endearing trait. It’s not a punchline or a bumper sticker. It’s real and paralyzing fear.
There wasn’t a clear moment in which OCD took over. I simply kept trying to fix and save things, and make life safe. But in reality I was just digging myself deeper into OCD’s grasp.
It was easier and safer not to sit in that spot. So I didn’t. It was easier and safer not to wear those clothes. So I didn’t. It was easier and safer not to eat at that table. So I didn’t. It was easier and safer not eat so I didn’t it was easier and safer not to sleep so I didn’t it was easier and safer not to get out of bed so I didn’t it was easier and safer it was easier and safer. It was easier and safer not to.
I was fighting with everything that I had to stay alive and happy until I had created a life not worth living. Until I had made myself miserable, and my mind was not my own anymore. I could no longer retreat inside of myself for safety because my self had become the hostile enemy.
Battle is scary and draining. And when you’re forced to battle yourself, you’re forced to give, and take, all of the punches. You have to dig deep down to find that will to keep going. But the fight isn’t just for you. It’s for everyone who loves you, and knows that you’re still deep inside that mind somewhere. You are not your OCD.
It goes against all instinct to train yourself not to trust your own mind. OCD lies to you. It feeds off of your fear. It’s a bully. And as I’ve learned this year, you beat OCD just as you would a bully. You take away its fun. You do the exact opposite of what that bully – your brain – is expecting.
When I hear people talking about me now, it’s like they are talking about two different people at once, neither of which are the person I used to know as me, but who I know I’ve become. One night I heard my sister attempting to explain the anomaly which is my brain. Once again desperately trying to get others to understand the feeling of real danger and constant impending loss that just keeps replaying in my mind. And I just stood there silently. Knowing everything they were saying was true yet false all at the same time. The few disjointed words that did float over to my corner, words like “trigger” and “fear” and “stuck”, just washed over me and I felt numb and empty. I don’t recognize myself anymore; my brain is struggling to make room for itself in this new crowded shell that has too many thoughts racing through it.
I want to sit and listen, maybe they have some better view of what my life has become that can help me understand myself. Because I have been racking my brain trying to figure out where my mind turned wrong, where my self went. But I can’t sit and listen, I’m afraid of the stairs. And I can’t keep standing, my feet and knees are starting to ache so I want to get into bed and fall fast asleep, warm and safe. But I’m afraid of the bed. So I keep standing. I have a newfound talent of being comfortable with being insanely uncomfortable. When I finally do go to sleep, I won’t feel warm, and I definitely won’t feel safe.
I took my future for granted once, and I lost it all. Now I can see the future I want, but I can’t live in the present. Instead I am constantly working to prevent the loss of that future. Washing and avoiding and rewashing to make everything safe, just to get me to that happy place somewhere in the future. So that the present is horrifying and angering and a constant disappointment. How do I find that happy place in the now?
I’m living in the middle of two ultimatums; a lose-lose for me. On one side, my OCD tells me that if I don’t listen to it, and follow its directions, I will lose my happy future. And on the other side, my mind tells me that if I listen to OCD and live by its rules, I’ll lose my happy present. So either I listen to one and I’m miserable now, or I listen to the other and I’m miserable later. How do I choose what to lose and what to save?
This past year may not have gone as planned, and yes, I once again have had to mourn the loss of the identity I had built for myself. But I will find myself again. No matter what I end up doing or where I’ll be, I can always say that I have had the strength and courage to stand up against OCD and depression every day of my life. And not only that, but that I will keep on fighting.