It’s been two months since my last blog entry, and I haven’t been exactly sure how to jump back in. The thing is, I have OCD. Usually, when people think of OCD, they think of someone that is a clean freak or has to perform certain actions repeatedly in order to proceed with their next task. Both are symptoms of OCD, but I’m more on the obsessive end of the spectrum. I struggle with the “O” in OCD, specifically obsessive or intrusive thoughts. (Great read: This Is the Difference Between Having OCD and ‘Being SOOO OCD.’)
I would perseverate over the dumbest things. For instance, if my boss sent me a one-word response to an email, I would immediately think, “He only said, ‘no,’ so he must be angry at me to not expound upon his answer. And if he’s mad at me, I mustn’t be doing a good job. If I’m not doing a good job, he’s going to fire me, and then we’re going to lose our house, and then…” In a few seconds, I had convinced myself that a succinct answer from my boss meant that I was going to be homeless, instead of the more likely scenario that he was quickly trying to respond between meetings.
Looking back, I’ve dealt with this line of thinking my entire life, but it wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that it began interfering with daily life. I finally found a therapist that recognized that I was coping with more than a few bad thoughts. I was stuck in a cycle of intrusive thinking that I couldn’t climb out of on my own. She referred me to a psychiatrist to see if medication – the thing I dreaded most – would help me in cooperation with my therapy. I grew up with parents that were very vocal about their disapproval of the use of medication for psychological problems – and really doubted that anything less than talking to walls was even a problem. They made it seem like only weak or godless people had to use medication to numb their feelings. Even though I disagreed, it was a hang-up that I had to get over.
I had hit a point where I knew I would literally lose it – my relationship, career, and general sanity – if I didn’t get the right help. I was confused when the psychiatrist diagnosed me with OCD. I, too, thought it was about people that color-coordinated their books and knocked three times before entering a room. As he explained that this intrusive thinking was also part of the OCD continuum, my fear of “getting medicated” turned into relief that I what I was experiencing was the result of my unique biology and not a symptom of random “craziness.”
It took about 2 months of identifying the proper medication and dosage for my symptoms to subside, but when they did, I literally felt lighter. My mind was free to think about life in a rational manner. I was no longer consumed by the fear of the “what if,” but now had enough room in my head to approach life in a healthier manner. All the strength it took to fight those horrible thoughts could now be directed toward healing myself and living the best life possible.
Ok, so what does this have to do with not blogging? Well, one of the other symptoms of OCD is surprisingly – procrastination. I say surprisingly because you would think that a mental illness that is best known for impeccable neatness would mean that sufferers would have their shit together at all time. HA! For me, I want to do everything so perfectly that I tend to put off tasks until I can perfectly organize all the steps required or until I can set aside time to complete something perfectly. I’ve had to learn to be ok with a rough draft or taking a small step and finishing it at a later time. It sounds so stupid, but knowing something is sitting there in an incomplete state or [be still my freaking heart] sharing a work in progress is horrifying to me. Professionally, this has become easier for me because I give myself deadlines and make myself click send even if a document is not a masterpiece; but personally, I still struggle quite a bit. (Ask my husband about the time that I spent hours baking and decorating cookies, only to not take them to the intended party because they didn’t look exactly how I wanted them.)
Lately, I’ve been highly stressed and felt like I was losing control (big OCD trigger!), and it totally set me off. I would start a blog post, but deem it too dumb to post or I couldn’t think of the perfect opening line, so I would bag the whole thing. Then I began having intrusive thoughts about why my blog was dumb anyway, so why was I even writing it?!?!? I circled the drain until I finally decided enough was enough. This blog may be dumb, but I started it because it provides me with satisfaction. That reason alone is enough to share what I ate yesterday or where I plan to go for my next vacation.
So here I am. I’m broken in my own special way, but I’ll be damned if after all the work I’ve done to control my illness, that I let it keep me from creatively expressing myself because I miss a comma here and there. And if along the way, my brokenness can help someone else know that they’re not alone, then the uncomfortable moments are worth it.
If you’re still reading, thanks for sticking with me. I have another perfectly, imperfect post to share with you on Friday. 🙂