For my second post in this great tribe, I would like to share a few words. I hope you like them, it's taken me two hours to write them and check the spelling like three times. Whatever, I'm cool.
Learning to accept I had OCD wasn't the problem. I knew I had dealt with this since I was a very small child. I was glad it now had a name but accepting it wasn't the issue. What was the issue was something one of a plethora of my psychiatrists said when I was in my late teens that really threw me for a loop. He told me I was not normal. I hadn't been normal for most of my life and I would never be normal again. He told me that I didn't have the same thinking process normal people did and how I processed things was not only different to most people but that it would always be that way. To say I was stunned would be a major understatement. I WAS SHOCKED.
I had spent years of my life, literally years of my life trying to mimic normal people's responses to things. I had tried earnestly to fit in. I had tried so hard, thinking somewhere in the recesses of my mind that if I played at it hard enough, if I pretended long enough that the OCD would cease and I would in fact become normal. I had always heard "practice makes perfect" and I had been perfecting the look of normal for years. Surely, it meant that if I practiced enough I would finally be able to reach that treasured item on the top shelf….not perfection but, normalcy. God, how I just wanted normalcy in my life.
After this tit for tat conversation with my doctor I was crushed. I was deflated. I felt all the hope inside of me die. I felt lost and alone. I felt bruised and ashamed. I realized that I had been fooling myself for years. I was never going to be normal. It wasn't even a possibility. And so I grieved.
I grieved for the death of my dreams at normalcy. All the things I thought I could be if the OCD would just leave me alone. All the ways I wanted to be. I wanted to be free of intrusive thoughts. I wanted to be strong willed and passionate about other things in life. I wanted to be fearless. I wanted to be able to sit on my damn couch in silence and not hear that stupid repugnant voice, my voice telling me that I did something I didn't, or I wanted something I had no desire for, or God forbid show me those horrid disgusting images. I wasn't going to get those things and I had to find a way to reconcile myself with that. And it was very hard. Almost impossible some times.
I grieved for days, weeks, months. I grieved for the fact I would not be able to drive, or work, or have strangers shake my hand without repulsion on my part. I grieved that people whispered behind my back not because I was doing something amazing and praise worthy but because I was odd and mentally ill and something "funny" I did made them snicker. I grieved because now that my ridiculous facade of normalcy was ripped away from me, I had nothing left and had no idea what I was supposed to do next.
I grieved so hard and so deeply that my eyes ran out of tears, my voice was scratchy from the wailing, my body was exhausted from being wracked with guilt. I felt broken and damaged and worthless. Who would want to have anything to do with a shell of a human being? An outcast? A weirdo?
And after my extravagant pity party something in me snapped. What the hell was I doing? Crying because I wasn't normal? Big deal. I didn't even know what normal was anyway. What was I going to do, beat myself up for the rest of my life because I had the unfortunate circumstance to have a mental illness? Was I going to wallow in my own self pity for the rest of my life? Why because I was different……….NEWS FLASH…….I have always been different! It wasn't like I had actually lost something I had had to begin with.
I got angry. I got passionately angry about my wallowing. About my grief, about my self loathing. I realized I was all of things I wanted to be. Maybe not exactly the way I had pictured them but I still was a form of them. I was strong. I had dealt with this crap for decades! I was passionate about things, I just let myself pretend I didn't care. I was free to do what I wanted unless I let OCD stop me. I mean the sitting on the couch thing, didn't happen but who needs silence, anyways?
I realized I had a choice. I could sit there give up and lick my wounds and cry about my perceived faults, my perceived lacking ability, my misfortune or I could fight. I could say,"this is not going to prevent me from living my life." And I made a choice. I have never been a quitter.
So in short, having a mental illness sucks. It is painful and hard and often times downright exhausting. And I may not have or be everything I thought I would be, but what I do have is a strong sense of self. A strong will to keep going and an unflinching belief that I am worth more than my OCD tries to make me believe. We all are, we just have to make the choice. Do we wallow or get up and fight for ourselves? Do we lie there and take it or do we do everything possible to manage our disorder? Because the truth is we are not normal and that is perfectly okay. It's okay because normal doesn't really desist anyway. We just think it does.We have just fooled ourselves into believing it. Truth is, accepting ourselves as who we are the way we are is far more important that any shabby facade we have clutched onto for years. Hoping that one day we will be like everyone else. We are not like everyone else and that is okay too. We don't need to be. We just need to be ourselves because, we rock! We are caring, and strong, and intelligent, and sensitive and sure we have a few issues and triggers. Sure we have painful bouts of symptoms. Sure we have unwanted thoughts, fears, and anxieties. Sure we suffer from our OCD but we get back up every time it knocks us down. We get back up every time, everyday, every moment and we play on. Because we are strong, we are powerful, and we run our lives not the OCD. I mean, sure we get sidetracked sometimes like if we need to over wash our hands sixteen times because we touched something in the trash, or we need to touch that doorknob six times until it feels right, or confess our imagined sins to our best friend, or whatever else your trigger may be………. but whatever………we are rock stars! And it's high time we start believing it. We are rock stars people! Overtly clean, never shaggy, very well groomed….Rock stars and well, frankly, we rock!