I’ve struggled with OCD for most of my life. Pretty much ever since I realized that I had it, realized that I wasn’t just a weird, twitchy little brat. I’ve done some behavioural therapy in the past, and I’ve mostly learned how to cope with it. I still have obsessive thoughts, but I can (usually) prevent my behaviours from interfering with my life.
Recently I had a traumatic triggering event that made my anxiety flare up nastily. After this thing happened to me, I immediately began reliving this childhood memory, in my head, over and over again. All my self-doubt and insecurities, normally just nagging thoughts at the back of my head, were screaming, and for a little while there I was totally non-functional as a human being. I would have done literally anything to stop reliving this one awful memory.
So I did something I had always resolved never to do: medication.
I’d been on anti-anxiety medication once in the past, when it was bad enough that I picked all the skin off my hand. It was pretty gross and got infected. The sight of my raw, red, nasty hand, in turn made me obsess over all the disgusting bacteria thriving in the landscape of my own self-mutilation. It was then that I realized I needed to go on medication, for my dermatological health, if nothing else. So I spent some time on alprazolam, and I HATED it, but my skin grew back, and eventually I got things back under control.
But OCD has always been lurking there, beneath the surface. Waiting for its opportunity to take back over my life again.
My psychiatrist told me a couple things that made a huge difference in how I feel about my… illness: He says OCD is almost always genetically inherited, and there’s a lot of science suggesting that it is physiological, rather than psychological.
…Bloody hell. I’ve avoided medication for this long because I thought needing medication meant I was crazy. I know that putting plastic covers over all the electrical outlets in my house is stupid, and I know it makes no sense. I don’t do these things because I think they make me any safer, I do them because they make me FEEL better. I mean, not “better.” But if you’ve ever experienced anxiety to the point of feeling its physical symptoms, you’ll understand that when there is a simple ritual or habit you can perform to quell that anxiety, you’d fucking DO it. So the idea that, I inherited this? That it’s genetic? That it’s not my fault, or the fault of a traumatic childhood? That it’s not a sign of some inherent weakness, my inability to cope with my own shit? The idea that it’s Not My Fault…?
LIBERATING. I can’t even express what a relief it is.
And the SSRIs are helping. The last few days, whenever my mind goes down dark paths, I decide that I want to think about something else, and then… I do. I’m starting to be able to change mental gears, without as much effort as it’s taken in the past. A lot of my previous coping strategy has been “fake it ’til you make it.” I had been faking it for so long, it never occurred to me that I never really make’d it. Now I’m starting to realize just how much effort and energy I had to put into controlling my moods. I didn’t realize how bad it was until now that it’s getting better.
I make a lot of self-deprecating jokes about how I don’t have any friends. But the people around me have been amazingly supportive, and knowing that you guys love me and support me has been such a boon. Thank you.