My name is Natalie, this is my blog. I am someone who has OCD. While I try not to let this illness define who I am, it does define my fight, and my fight defines who I will become. My illness is something I struggle to understand and something I am trying not to hide anymore, because I don’t want to hide myself anymore.
When I first started this blog it was my gut decision to make it anonymous and I never questioned that until recently. The purpose of this blog was primarily to give myself a voice while living with a mental illness that seems to take it away from me at every step. It was also to help me communicate with my family about something so very confusing and difficult to understand. And to maybe drown out some of the many harmful and pervading misrepresentations of OCD in our society. This blog is deeply personal and contains aspects of my life that have taken me a long time to accept about myself, so of course I would want to remain anonymous. However I recently asked myself why? Why do I hesitate to put my name on this, why do I hesitate to share this with friends while I am okay sharing it anonymously with strangers? And my answer to these made me begin to question my reasoning behind my anonymity. Was I hesitant to put my name on a bluntly difficult and honest blog about mental health, or was I hesitant to put my name to OCD – to a person who, like many others, struggles daily with their mental health. The latter possibility made me nervous, because if that is true, then I am hesitant to put my name to me. So I have decided to take a step out from behind this curtain I have created for myself, and try at least, to begin accepting who I am now.
Since I was diagnosed in 2016, I have only told those directly around me about my OCD. With old friends I remained vague, only sharing enough for them to know that I had been having a hard time, but not enough for them to ask any questions about this illness I knew little to nothing about. But with those friends I noticed a wall had gone up between us, and I had convinced myself that that wall was my OCD, when in fact it was me. It was me not accepting my new reality. It was me trying to hold on to the past; by being vague with my friends it gave me a window to be vague with myself, pretend for a little while that I was the old me. All that did was hold me back from moving forward with my recovery. And all this time I have felt divided, angry at myself for not being who I was and angry at myself for not being able to figure out who I am now. But as I have been slowly chipping away at that wall and sharing my new reality with more people, I have noticed that I feel a little less angry with myself.
Hiding behind that wall convinced me that I have something to be ashamed of, that I am something to be hidden. Perhaps it happened the other way around, I was ashamed therefore I hid. Either way, continuing to hide behind vague “I’m fine” answers has further ingrained these feelings of shame and isolation. I couldn’t accept myself, couldn’t accept that I was worth it, that I was still me, and that my emotions were valid. And I projected those feelings of rejection onto those around me. Our society as a whole is not very accepting or welcoming to the discussion of mental illness, making sufferers feel unacceptable and unwelcomed. But that doesn’t mean that we have to be unaccepting, or that our society should remain that way. I want to help change that. And the first step in doing so is to accept who I am; be proud of my fight instead of ashamed of my mental illness.
Humans are afraid of what they don’t understand, afraid of different. It’s a harmful trait, maybe inherent but certainly not permanent. I felt ashamed to have a mind that worked differently so I tried for a long time to separate myself from OCD, from the thing that made me different. In doing so I separated myself from everyone I cared about because I wouldn’t let them see the real me. But there was the answer to my question; I was hesitant to put my name to OCD, I was hesitant to put my name to me.
So I am fighting to be proud. I am fighting to put my name on my triumphs and my failures, and be proud of both. By putting my name on my blog I am fighting to put my name back on to me. In doing so I hope that some people who might be needing it will hear my voice and know that they have one too, and that it is valid; that they are not alone when they feel unwelcomed in the world or in their own minds.
Putting my name on this blog is one of the scariest things I could think of doing. That is why I am doing it.