My OCD and Me
Hello mental health champions, how are you doing?
Today I want to talk about OCD. I want to get into more about OCD since this is something I fight with every day. OCD is one of those illnesses that gets thrown around as an adjective in everyday life , which is really offensive to those who are actually struggling with this illness. The first time I saw OCD was on Glee with Emma Pillsbury. This one portrayal of OCD was mainly focused on excessive organization and cleanliness. I thought that was how every person with OCD was. I had no clue that OCD could be so many different things. I actually watched Glee while I was battling my own anxiety, depression, and later we found out OCD. I didn’t quite know that Emma Pillsbury and I were basically actually battling the exact same thing- OCD. They did a really good job in Glee of showing how her disorder had such a huge impact on her life and just how difficult it was for her battling OCD. My OCD is just different. So to better summarize, I have what they call Pure OCD. The best way to explain this is that my compulsions are not visible rituals like turning the light off and on ten times. Hidden rituals are usually mental, with obsessive thoughts. I engage in mental rituals to help reduce my stress.
Growing up this was incredibly difficult for me. I still don’t exactly know how much I feel comfortable sharing, but I am hoping with time I can truly share more and more about my experience in hopes that I can truly help someone else. OCD has many cruel layers and it may take me a couple posts to get through it all. This blog may be the first of many to dive deep into this topic.
I can explain how OCD started for me. I remember it clear as day, in seventh grade. I was sitting in my living room and I had a really mean thought about one of my family members. It was basically a thought making fun of one of them. For those of you that know me, you know that this is far from who I am. I genuinely love people and always try to withhold judgements of others or think mean thoughts about people. Obviously, I am not a saint, I am human, and mean thoughts are a part of life. However, this thought made me feel really shitty. I felt guilty over this thought and felt a lot of anxiety and uneasiness for a couple hours after this thought. I plagued myself with “why would you have that thought?” or “that thought was so horrible, what is wrong with you?”. This anxiety continued until I had another thought, then another, then another. Each time the thought was worse and was about someone I cared about more and more. It was like this Jenga stack of mean, horrific, hurtful thoughts stacking one on top of the other. And each time Another thought was added, the anxiety increased and increased. It got so bad I would begin to basically have a panic attack any time I had a thought. I didn’t know this was OCD. I thought I was literally just the worst person to walk the planet. I hated myself so much for these thoughts that it eventually led to debilitating days. I was scared someone might find out my thoughts. I would get physically sick over these thoughts. I would have very extreme panic attacks and would hyperventilate. I basically could not function for a good two years because of these thoughts.
Another thing that is horrific is the compulsion of feeling like you need to confess. I felt like I had to confess to these thoughts to be forgiven. I told my mom for a while a lot of these thoughts because I truly believed this was the only way to discard those individual thoughts. Now I am sure you cannot imagine how difficult this was for me because a lot of the thoughts were directed at the people I loved and cared about most. Now if you don’t have OCD and you are reading this just think for a second. Can you imagine having the most hurtful thoughts in the world about people you absolutely love and cherish? And them being played on a loop in your head like a song you just can’t quite get out of your head? That is what life was like and still is like for me from time to time. It is unbearable. The guilt that you feel from this thought pattern to me is incomparable to anything I have ever felt. When I say I hit rock bottom, I hit rock freaking bottom.
I remember some nights praying to God that I wouldn’t wake up so that I could just be set free of these thoughts. I wore a scapular around my neck and my cross necklace with a dime taped to it around my neck. The scapular and cross made me feel like it would ward off evil and that God would protect me. The dime was a symbol of my loved ones in heaven. I was hoping that by carrying the dime, that would also help ward off evil and I would feel safe. I never felt safe one time in these two years. I was a prisoner to my brain, every single day. Every time I would be brave enough to confess one god awful thought, one even more horrific would take its place. I would pray to God that I would be punished for these thoughts because that's what I deserved. I tried not to eat because I literally thought I didn’t deserve it. It was living hell on earth, every damn day. OCD plays off of your fears. I think that is why it cuts so very deeply. I remember watching Divergent for the first time and it was incredibly eye-opening to me. I remember thinking that when she would go into her simulations was how I felt all the time. Having the worst thoughts imaginable and having them play off of my deepest and darkest fears.
One of my worst fears is the fear of hurting someone I love. I would never want to hurt someone I care about. I am a Cancer and an empath. I would rather have anything horrible happen to me than someone I love. I wish I could take all the world’s pain away and fix everyone. That was another reason that these thoughts were just so much more brutal. I am such a caring and loving person that I cried for twenty minutes once when I thought I may have hit a raccoon. So having thoughts be completely opposite of everything I believe in, caused me such an immense amount of pain. Some days I wished that I was the idea that everyone had when they heard “OCD” and thought of compulsory cleaning or flipping the light switch off and on.
So now you might be feeling sorry for me, at least I kind of hope you are at this point, I kid. But seriously, another awful thing that I had to deal with is that I couldn’t tell anyone what was going on with me. The only people that knew were my immediate family. Once again this is a perfect example of everything looking fine from the outside, but someone being completely broken on the inside. I was so fucking broken. I hate to swear, but to be honest that is just who I am. My friends didn’t even know that I went through this until this year when I started being a mental advocate and sharing more about OCD and intrusive thoughts.
Now I can go on and on about OCD and how I handle Intrusive thoughts, and I hope to write about this soon. But in the meantime, I just wanted to give my background and experience with OCD so that when I write my next posts, you will know exactly where I am coming from. If this blog can even help one person to not feel alone the way that I did back then, it will have been worth every second I poured my heart out. If you are struggling with intrusive thoughts right now, I want you to know that you are NOT your thoughts. Your personality is NOT defined by OCD thoughts, and you have no control over what your chemical imbalance in your brain makes you think. You deserve to be here. You deserve to live intrusive thought free. You deserve happiness. You will heal from this, I am a living and breathing example. I still have my moments, sure, but I have really recovered from the day to day chains that intrusive thoughts bring. You are loved. Pain will always be temporary. You deserve to feel loved. You deserve to be on this earth. I love you. Keep fighting.
Talk to you soon brain battlers, Gracie <3