I will hearken back on the fantastic advice given to me by a published writer, "write what you know", well he intended that to mean my obsession with the Civil War era, but this blog has nothing to do with history at all. What I "know" in this instance is something that I know better than any historical topic, I live everyday with this and want to be part of the crusade to kill the stigma surrounding it.
I have obsessive compulsive disorder, it was quite difficult to write that sentence, I hate labeling myself but I was inspired over the last week by multiple things that have shown me not to be ashamed. A year ago, writing this post for all of my friends, family, co-workers and complete strangers to read would have made me physically ill, but I cannot let this control me anymore.
What is there to gain from writing this? It's hard to really pinpoint, I'm not huge about the idea of labeling myself, but I feel it is important for people to know that they aren't alone. I am still on a crazy journey trying to my peace within myself and I feel that the journey will be a life-long struggle. I just want to be part of the solution of killing the stigma, correcting stereotypes and helping people see that it affects more people than you would ever realize.
Lets start with the basics, I have been diagnosed with mild OCD and anxiety disorder, this diagnosis was given to me as an adult, but I have struggled with these things since my teenage years. I and my family have known I have obsessive tendencies for as long as I can remember. This is where I aim to kill the first stereotype, I don't go around flipping light switches, counting random things or any real noticeable tic. I am not poking fun at people who do that, I just know that is what everybody assumes OCD is. I don't jump over cracks or mess with my clothes or hair constantly. I, quite simply, obsess over human interactions and my environment. I am not a clean freak, quite the opposite, but I want things in the place that I have designated for them.
The human interaction aspect is really hard to explain; I am not a social recluse, quite the opposite. I adore my family, friends and co-workers, which is probably the reason that this is such a trigger. I can't stand when something goes wrong in conversation, if I make somebody angry that I care about or if a friend of mine is unhappy with me. I cringe when something goes amiss while talking with others or if I mis-speak. For example, I jokingly insulted a friend of mine. I thought it was a joke but my wife thought that I was being serious. She told me that she thinks my friend MAY have taken me seriously, that set me completely off, I was pacing around the house and fretting for hours. It was only until I called my friend, at damn near midnight, to plead forgiveness and beg them to understand I was joking that I could calm down. They never thought I was serious, but the thought of them thinking ill of me made me physically ill. I can't wait till tomorrow, or brush it off and hope for the best, I must talk to the person or fix whatever my mind conceives as the problem.
So where to turn? Well, for those of you reading this, I am not going to sugar coat it. My OCD and anxiety take constant vigilance, there are days when I wake up and I feel the weight of the world on me. I can't scroll facebook (I deleted the app on my phone and limit computer time now) because it seems every story is about death, cancer or some other terrible affliction. I can't watch the news because there is always a story that makes me fear for the life of my children. This means that it makes me sick to even watch the STUDENT news with my kids in the morning because of the way my mind works. The safety of my family and especially my kids is a huge stressor, I get physically ill when I take my kids to the pool or any place with water because I read ONE ARTICLE about "dry drowning" and I am convinced my kids are all going to drop dead from it if they intake any bit of water. I wish I were kidding....... it has stopped me from taking trips or enjoying them when I am on them.
I will be honest in saying that I hated therapy when I went and I doubt I ever go back. (I am not saying all therapy is bad, just my experience was) I have found that my greatest release is exercise and this, sitting and writing my thoughts, fears, apprehensions, joys etc down. It gives me such a release to be able to dig deep into my own mind and write it down, not share with a stranger I am paying by the hour. Therapy works for many, just not this guy.
The last pep talk I can give to a person dealing with anxiety, depression or OCD is to find a way to minimize it. I have a terrible habit of allowing it to control my life, but I am getting better. The thing that I am focused on now is breaking free from the chains that it has placed me in before. I refuse to sit out a trip because there is a waterpark involved. I will not allow my mind to cause me to miss special moments with my kids, so I will grin, be terrified as hell and swim with my kids.