Melanie Lefebvre, with a little help from her husband Brandon and 19th century poet Clement Clarke Moore, has written “‘Twas an OCD Night Before Christmas.”
The poem riffs on the beloved classic, sharing some of Lefebvre’s own OCD-based thoughts and anxieties. And I’ve seen it all over Facebook today.
OCD is hard whenever you’re having symptoms — intrusive thoughts, worries, compulsions. The holidays seem to make it worse, though, or at least they did for me. The change in routine made my anxiety spike.
Before I was in therapy and on medication, my OCD was pretty much constant, but it would spike for a few days a month. Around the holidays, that spike would last a week or two instead, and once it lasted for months.
The holidays also offered some relief. They’re busy days for my family, and being busy helps take my mind off things for a few minutes or hours at a time. The cheery spirit of the season made it hard to get too deep into darker thoughts, at least during the day.
But like in the poem, it was when I laid down to sleep that I really had problems. That’s when the thoughts I’d managed to fend off during the day came out, and I found myself checking on my cats, checking to make sure the tree hadn’t caught fire, checking locks on the doors in case an axe murderer slipped inside — and those were the good nights.
One Christmas, I spent my entire time at my mom and dad’s trying not to sleep, in case I talked about my violent thoughts in my sleep and they had me arrested or committed.
So Melanie Lefebvre’s poem really hits home for me, even though I am on medication now that, along with exposure therapy, has taken the teeth out of my intrusive thoughts. It’s a little weird, to be able to sit back and enjoy Christmas with my family for a change. It’s been a long time, and Christmas has always been my favorite time of year.
If OCD has been ruining your holidays, I hope that you are able to find a treatment or a medication combination that can get it under control soon. If you’re not in therapy or haven’t seen a doctor yet, NAMI can help you find someone to help you.
I hope you have as happy a holiday as possible.
Photo by brillianthues