This is my first post in a long time because my joint condition became very life-centric, but now that it’s more or less handled, I wanted to post on OCD for OCD Awareness week this year.
I’ve been medicated, this time, since October 2012. Every day, I take three doses of medication to control my OCD. I have a medication timer app on my phone that goes off at 9 a.m., 2:30 p.m., and 9 p.m. every day. I’ve had major surgery and didn’t miss a dose. I’ve gone on vacations and didn’t miss a dose. I’ve been through emotional days that gutted me, but I didn’t miss a dose. So, in over 7500 doses of my medication, I’ve never missed a dose. I’ve been late on doses, but I’ve never missed one because I know it’s crucial. I carry medication with me everywhere to that end. Why? Because this is a good me. This is a steady me. This is a ME me. I am me. Sometimes, my OCD bleeds through, and I wish it didn’t, but this is a functional me who experiences emotions in a real way.
In the past, I’ve been on medication for a few years and decided I didn’t like meds “controlling” me. I didn’t like relying on something else to make me feel like me. I’ve tapered off them with a sneering look at them, only to end up back on them. This is the longest time I’ve ever been medicated, and I’m glad I’ve finally stopped with the toxic mentality of the past. This is a good and healthy way to view treatment. Seeing treatment as an integral part of keeping me steady and happy doesn’t weaken my hold on my mental illness, it strengthens it.
I want to say something about finding that coping mechanism, whether it’s therapy or medication or some other method…it’s out there. There is hope. In the years I’ve had this blog, which was overtly for my books, nearly every email I’ve received has been about OCD. I’ve emailed back and forth with people who have lost hope…who’ve lost loved ones to OCD. I’ve talked with people on social media about cutting and OCD. I’ve seen in them the desperation I once lived with every day. I’ve helped where I could because I wanted them to have the hope that I do.
I’d like to say that on the other side of seven years of medications there is a cure or total symptom control, but there isn’t for me. What there is…is peace. There are moments where you can experience what seems like “normal.” There’s control. I’m in charge of my fate, even if I’m using medication as a tool to achieve that. I’m not cured. Sometimes, things have affected the efficacy of my meds or caused a surge in my symptoms, and I’m reminded that I have a severe mental disorder. But those times pass because I continue on with the plan I’ve set with my doctor, one we’ve refined at regular increments.
OCD is a part of me. It always will be. It’s a defining characteristic like race. It determines how I’ll handle the world and how the world will handle me. But it is now not entirely who I am, thanks to proper treatment. After so many years of control, I’ve gained some perspective and can take a breath and look back and see how much better it gets if you keep going. Treatment won’t tie you down, but give you freedom to breathe again. It’ll allow you to define yourself in ways that aren’t determined by your OCD.
Fifteen years ago, I stopped hiding my OCD and started searching for treatment. Life is so much better now.
If you have Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, there is hope. Talk to someone. Go see a medical professional. Find a way to wrestle control back into your hands because you are worth it, and there is a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m still heading toward that light, and it’s sometimes a daily struggle, but the peace I’ve found in long-term treatment is worth it.
Good luck in finding your peace, but I know it’s out there for you.
If you need someone to talk to, it’s easiest to find me on Twitter where I’m @WendySparrow.
**If you or someone you love has obsessive-compulsive disorder, a medical professional would be able to give you more specific help and advice, and nothing I’ve said can replace seeking help or should be construed as advice. Be safe and be well and seek help if you need it. This post is based on my own experiences and my interaction with others diagnosed with OCD.**