I’ve been thinking about what it’s like to have obsessive-compulsive disorder.
How I experience OCD now is different from how I experienced it when I was child, teenager and young adult.
If I compare my life now to how it was when I was in my 20s, I can say with no doubt that things are better now. I cope better. I am able to turn away from the compulsive urges much more easily. I have tools in my toolbox to fight it.
On this blog, I write mostly about what it’s like for me now to have OCD. I continue to have problems with obsessions and compulsions. I am still discovering ways that OCD works itself into my life. My general anxiety and depression can still throw me to the floor and make me think I’ve never moved forward.
But I have moved forward. With medication, cognitive behavioral therapy and personal lifestyle changes, all ongoing, I am moving forward. I am grateful for that.
I know many others are suffering in the depths of OCD, where they are exhausted and in despair. I wish I could wave a wand and take away all their pain.
Because I know how hard it is. That is something I will never forget, no matter how much my own OCD and depression improve.
I’ve had the chapped and discolored hands and wrists from having them in water and strong cleaners much of the day.
I have stood in front of my stove for hours, looking at the knobs from every angle, touching the top over and over, checking for heat, while I tried to reassure myself that the stove was off.
I have cleaned the bathroom using bottles of disinfect at a time, then made up excuses—lied—to try to keep others from using it.
I have driven in circles, back and forth on the street, looking for bodies that I may have run over.
I have picked up sticks and rocks and anything that looked dangerous as I tried to walk from one place to another, backtracking and bending over to examine something that looked like a weed but might be a wire that could stick someone in the foot.
I have written research papers that said nothing because I was so afraid of plagiarizing.
I have failed to finish so many books because I couldn’t turn a page until I’d read it multiple times, making sure I’d really read it.
I have prayed and chanted continuously, thinking I was somehow responsible for keeping everyone safe by doing so.
I have confessed my sins, or what might possibly be sins, to anyone who would listen.
I’ve prayed for God to just let me die because I didn’t think I could take one more minute of the pain.
Somewhere inside me was a little hope. It must have been there, even though I couldn’t feel it, because somehow I didn’t give up.
It has taken years for me to reach a point where obsessions and compulsions don’t occupy every waking moment. I am getting better faster now, I believe, because I am doing cognitive behavioral therapy, something I didn’t think I needed before.
OCD will always be with me. It will always be with you, too, if you have it.
Hope will get us through, though. No matter how tiny that hope is, even if it’s just a small thought that there must be something better than this. Even if all the hope you have is the knowledge that someone else got better.
I got better. I’m getting better. And you can too.