So, this isn’t going to be about writing–not in so many words, but I’m really trying to help the world see OCD in a different light, and there isn’t a moment of my day that isn’t impacted by having OCD. There isn’t a word I write that isn’t influenced by my OCD. I will have books/novellas out eventually that will have OCD characters. OCD is a huge part of my life–a defining part of my character.
If you know me well at all, you know that I joke about my OCD and being crazy all the time. I have a pretty broad sense of humor, and it helps me cope. I have clinical, severe Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I repress most of my symptoms and I hid it for 28 years up until my daughter was diagnosed with it, and, now, I’m open about it because I’m not ashamed that my brain just doesn’t run the way other people’s do. My daughter’s OCD seems fairly mild at this point, but I don’t want her to ever feel like she has to hide it from everyone.
I’m medicated for OCD which helps with some symptom control. Medication takes the edge off and keeps me able to function, but there’s just something a little pathetic about shooting just for “functional.” Unfortunately, therapy won’t work for me and most meds have horrific side effects. I try to control things with diet and exercise and that helps, but my reality will always be that if I’m under stress…I will most likely need to be medicated.
And now I’m going to say something that is probably very hard for anyone to say, but it’s a reality I’m working to accept: I’m a better person when I’m medicated.
End of story.
And it sucks, but there it is. The reason is that there is a common symptom of OCD that I’m going to “out” right now that even many people with OCD don’t recognize or acknowledge. One of the big symptoms of OCD is we have dark thoughts–thoughts that spring into our heads with no warning. Thoughts that terrify us because they make us wonder if we’re just one impulse away from being a monster. A common one is that if someone is too close to the edge of something…a street, the railing on a boat, a cliff…we have this moment where we think, “They should be more careful, I could push them right now…kill them right now…and….” which is then followed by such self-loathing that you don’t even want to be around you.
I wish that was it, but the thoughts take a lot of forms: inappropriate sexual thoughts, heretical religious thoughts (for those of us who are religious), violent thoughts, immoral thoughts…thoughts that you’d associate with the most sociopathic and evil members of society…and they drop into our brains as chemicals shift and images process…and we loathe ourselves.
I’ve said this on Twitter, and I’m repeating it with the profanity it deserves: People with OCD feel guilty every damn day.
It’s been decades since I’ve felt like I could enter a chapel and sometimes even a church even though I know that these thoughts are not who I am–that the space between thought and action is a wide gulf, but being in a chapel throws how I feel versus what I should feel into such sharp contrast that it’s easier for me to not be in there. (We usually sit in the foyer–and with my husband’s migraines and T’s issues with crowds and noises…it’s an easy choice.)
The thing about OCD…the thing that makes it different from insanity is that we realize this is crazy. I know those thoughts are crazy. I know any compulsions or behaviors will not “atone” or repair this part of me that feels broken. People with OCD know their behavior, their paranoia, their obsessions are over-the-top…and yet…we need to cope.
When I was younger, my coping mechanisms were a lot more self-destructive because I was completely out of control and desperate for help and also to hide that I needed help. Today, I’m a lot more sure that who I am is not who OCD sometimes implies I am, and I have an extremely supportive family. And the medication helps. I pay for it, though. The meds should disrupt my ability to obsess…and, thus, my memory. My memory is lousy at times. On the other hand, I’ve gone into the chapel at church about four times this year. I can go outside my house. I can be in crowds. I can function. There are other side effects–tons of other side effects, and I have to take meds three times a day, every day, without fail.
There’s a song that goes: “I’m not crazy, I’m just a little unwell….” and at 30% symptom control I’m standing on that line.
But, I’m not bringing this up so you all want to give me cyber hugs. I live a truly blessed life despite this, and my OCD isn’t always so negative. I swear I keep the rest of the world safe from killing themselves and my level of attention to detail and intuitiveness about others is what makes me an effective writer.
I’m bringing it up because someone needs to say that this is normal…for the abnormal…that those with OCD are not dark, even if you feel like it. If you suffer from this symptom, you are not a bad person. In fact, chances are that you are a very good person and that’s why you feel like such a bad person. I’m bringing it up because I had no idea that this was a symptom of OCD until I was in my 20s, and I’d already considered suicide a dozen times, and I’d already had a nervous breakdown. I’m bringing it up because I wish someone had told me.
I will never be normal, but I also don’t believe normal exists. I can’t imagine what it must be like to not have OCD…and sometimes I’m not even sure I’d want to be that person. OCD is what I am and who I am–even as it’s not either of those.
If you or someone you know has OCD, as you can see, I’m extremely open about it. I haven’t always been, but the world needs people to talk about this. If you have any questions, I’m totally okay with talking about it. I’m very familiar with common symptoms. I’ve tried many different interventions. If you need to talk, chances are, my insomnia is keeping me awake. (Another common sign of OCD.) Look for me on Twitter or send me an email at the address on my contact page.
If you have OCD, you deserve to be happy and have peace. Peace of mind isn’t just a tossed-off phrase if you’re coping with OCD, and I get that.
If you read through this, you deserve a cookie. *hands you a cookie* Don’t get crumbs everywhere and go wash up with good soap after you’re done.
*None of these posts on OCD can replicate or replace a visit to a health care professional and are my own personal experience and opinions. Please seek help if you feel you or someone you love needs it.*