I have been mildly obsessive compulsive for most of my life. People don’t know this about me because most of what I go through happens in my brain – I wouldn’t describe my obsessive compulsive tendencies as being textbook.
But as for my internal experience, none of that really matters. The fear and the panic are as real as anything else I have ever experienced.
The obsessions get me. They crush me. I hate them. I loathe them for what they try to steal from me.
It usually starts with me caring about someone or something. I’m thinking happy thoughts. I’m feeling hope or peace. And then the thought will come in. It will take root. And like a cancer it will infect everything. A stray thought will turn into an obsession that can last for hours or days or years.
The obsessions don’t revolve around trivial matters. You won’t find me obsessing about my television stand or the park down the street. Those would be easy to dismiss; I could compartmentalize them.
No, I obsess about my relationships and saying the wrong things. I obsess about harms I might have caused to people years ago. I obsess over random thoughts that pop into my head and that I convince myself are infused with meaning and danger and are indicative of serious character flaws on my part.
OCD convinces me I have to warn people off from me. That they aren’t safe around me. And that I am not safe around them. Because surely people would run if they saw the chaos that resides inside this brain of mine.
Lately, the obsessions have been revolving around religion. I think the term for it is scrupulosity. I’m constantly worried about thinking or saying or believing something wrong. I worry every little thing is a sin. It pulls me away from wanting to live a just life.
And honestly, that’s why I find OCD to be such a formidable opponent and such a viciously cruel one at that.
It tries to take so much away. It tries to force us deeper into ourselves. It tries to rob us of what matters most.
It tries to break us.
But the OCD won’t win. It won’t beat me, and if it affects you, it won’t beat you.
And I know that because OCD isn’t the truth, and it doesn’t define who we are.
We are much more than the neurochemicals going haywire in our brains. We are much more than the repetitive obsessive loops. We are much more than any compulsions we might be drawn to.
We are full and we are real and we are worthy, and we won’t allow ourselves to be defined by our struggles.
It takes time. It takes therapy. It takes medication. It takes hope, and it takes other people helping us find hope when we find it is lost to us.
But it’s a battle that was chosen for us, and I for one will never give up the fight.
I can’t say I will win every battle. I can’t say the battles with ever cease. But I can say I will never stop fighting.
OCD can’t take me down. It just can’t.