Cheers to you, cheers to me- living our lives with OCD! To share your own story, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Jennifer and I connected years ago and she offered up her story that she’s invited me to share. From the first sentence, her story hit home with me. Her writing is so beautifully crafted and her pieces are incredibly relatable. Like me, she blogs but she covers topics that are on her heart ranging from a-z! To read more from Jennifer check out her blog “whenwemumble” on WordPress.
"OCD has stolen countless hours from my life. Hours I could’ve used doing things I love, with the people I love, with thoughts I could stand.
It’s hard to define OCD to those who don’t suffer from the crippling disorder. You could say it’s like standing at a bar window, looking in on the ‘normal’ people, envious of their control over their thoughts, their actions, their simple day-to-day tasks.
An obsessive-compulsive disorder is hard to hide from others. The mockery is constant but almost understood, as we know how silly we can seem. That’s almost the most frustrating part. To watch ourselves do it, to watch ourselves suffer, and yet we can’t stop.
I’ve never felt the need to scrub my hands until they burn and bleed. I’ve never spent hours upon hours dusting every surface within sight. I’ve never fiddled with my doorknob, promising myself it’s locked. I don’t recite chants and I don’t function within numbers.
That being said, some would ask, then how do you have OCD?
I have OCD in a different sense, possibly a less common sense. I fixate on the placement of my items, down to the millimeter, down to the angle.
I don’t like to sit on my couch, as I’ll mess up the cushions. I don’t like to cook, as I’ll dirty the dishes. I don’t like to read; as my book belongs in the drawer and I take out my trash on a far too regular basis.
I consider time away from my condo lost time; my mind would rather be at home, rearranging something that doesn’t need to be rearranged.
I don’t like to have people over as they bring things that remain misplaced throughout their stay. I hate to watch them move things, touch things, dirty things. It’s unbearable.
I can list every item I own and the exact placement it’s in whether it’s in a drawer or stashed beneath my bed.
OCD has definitely affected my life for the worst. It restricts me from enjoying the things I like and putting my mind to rest. I have spent the better part of my life with this ‘disadvantage’, although I’m slowly learning to train my thoughts and learn to relax. I’ve accepted that my OCD is omething I’ll have to live with my entire life and I’m starting to believe I’m okay with that."
I’ve had the pleasure of meeting Scott virtually, through OCDisntme’s Facebook page & Scott’s OCD & Anxiety Awareness “Recovery Coach” page. We’ve connected over the commonality of living life with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
My new friend Scott has been fighting the fight for years now. He’s survived harming obsessions and OCD trials and tribulations for much of his life. He so eloquently wrote about his life, his story, and so graciously shared it with me to share with all of you. Reading about his life was so moving for me I was thrilled that he was willing for me to share his words.
Scott’s story is truly an inspiration for all of us! Read what he has to say below:
"I began developing harming obsessions when I was 10 and worsened at 11. It was like a hazy red, crimson fever that overtook my imagination. They began with scenarios in which I would be overcome with the anxiety that I would get up in the middle of the night, take my dad’s .22 rifle and pursue a murderous, uncontrolled rampage through the quiet innocence of my farmhouse. The incident would unfold like something out of a movie about a mass killer. I was like the fox in the henhouse, mercilessly pursuing every squawking, chirping, panicking fowl (my siblings). This would be, of course, after violently but quickly dispatching my shocked, surprised parents in their sleep. The gun would go off with the white, hot violent light of death erupting from the rifle barrel. The cries of their terror and the screaming panic of my younger brothers and sisters would sound like a bell into the silent, moonless, cricket-filled, summer night and their cries would go unanswered, then finally silenced. I would fight with them sometimes, even my parents, but I would always win. The tortured scenario would go to the same conclusion every time it cycled through my pre-adolescent head. I would go through the same scenes over and over again, going through every sequence, every moment. I would ask myself, “Why would I do this? Why would I ever be capable of doing anything of this sort?” And my mind would come back and tell me that I certainly was. I would question every single reason for this sicko “fantasy” to play through my mind and the shivers of horror that accompanied it. It would be like a football coach reviewing every frame of the pivotal play, looking for a diagnoses, research, refine, fix, coach, and reteach. No matter what told myself or how I reasoned or rationalized in my head, I always ended up in the same inevitable conclusion: I was a killer and I was capable of killing and I may very well kill my own family in cold blood.
I fixated on them when I went to bed at night and wondered endlessly about them when I woke up in the morning, wondering why I had simply not “succumbed to the pressure” and carried out my violent fears sometime during the night. The thoughts grew and soon began filling the daytime as well. By the time I was eleven, I couldn’t approach a family get-together or an outing without my mind’s eye rolling the footage of me taking an AK-47 or a large butcher knife and singlehandedly offing my extended family without a second thought. As they were, they were moderately disturbing at this time. I could hold them at bay. I could act like a “normal”, “defined” “functional” awkward but chubby and happy pre-teen and this is how they would stay for a while, slowly taking on a life of their own.
The year was 1985, when this was all unfolding on a small dairy farm in Wisconsin. I was the 2nd oldest of what at that time was 3 siblings. This was EXTREMELY isolating. I was so agonized that I finally decided that as 5th grader that I would sit my parents down and “come clean”. I told them, tearfully, that I was afraid that I was a “murder” and I was going to “murder” them. My parents, especially my dad, who were usually open to hearing our problems, were very reassuring. “You’re never going to do that kind of thing,” my dad told me gently. “You’re not that kind of person. You cry and get upset when you see kittens die.” So that reassured me. I kinda looked at it like I really wasn’t having anything serious going on with me and that I was just “going through a phase” I would soon “grow out of this”. I just kept it to myself after that not to burden them with all of the stressors on the farm and a big family. I spent a lot of time wandering around the farm, thinking and philosophizing what it meant for my life and when it would finally go away. Of course, that day never came.
Due to my introversion, intellectual strengths, my shyness, anxiety, smaller build and lack of coordination, I was an outcast in my high school. My pursuits of things like astronomy, weather, current events, history, and dream to become a world-renowned author made me a difficult fit with my own farm upbringing. Instead of driving tractor and milking cows, I was far more interested in reading books, studying science, literature, and figuring out how to make my mark in the world. I also thought about what I wanted to do with my life. And for obvious reasons, basically I wanted to get as FAR away from Stanley WI as I possibly could and never look back. Finally after 4 years of some bullying, struggling with my own thoughts, rejection from teenage girls, and being laughed at during gym class I worked my collective butt off to get a 3.2 GPA that gave me acceptance letters to 3 colleges.
Summer of 92′- Made plans to go to college to study English. Had my testing done, had gone to the orientation and registration with my dad, had my roommate assigned to me and everything looked like it was going off without a hitch except the thoughts that had dogged me like a mental plaque since I was 10 never went way. They began to increase in intensity. I fell into a near-debilitating depression. I remember about the exact day that happened. It was my first and biggest breakdown.
10 days into the semester: I checked into the campus counseling center where I began to disclose my issues. After I revealed that, to my perplexed relief, she actually told me it was all right and referred me to the Gunderson-Lutheran Hospital for testing and treatment. I had massive assessment that afternoon and when I walked back to the Hospital the next day to find out what they’d seen on testing. “Do you have intrusive, thoughts, urges, and impulses that run through your mind repeatedly.” I kept checking that box “Yes” and I also kept checking boxes regarding thoughts of harming others that I could not get out of my head. I told him, “I have these thoughts. I don’t understand them. I don’t know what’s happening to me. It’s like I’m two people at once, like there’s this monster inside of me, like I’m the Incredible Hulk.” He said, “I think I can help you.” And I was immediately relieved.
He told me what I had was obsessive compulsive disorder and that there was medication for it and there was treatment available for it. I told them that I was happy that I knew I had something and it had a name and it wasn’t something that made me crazy or was untreatable at all.
I told my dad about the diagnosis and he had a difficult time with that afterwards. My did mom too but she was more understanding.
My treating psychologist was actually very shaming of me, trying to teach me rational emotive therapy, an early form of cognitive behavioral therapy and not teaching me much about the disorder. He expected me to figure out that I was simply having a disorder and just move on with my life.
I was stuck in a foreign land, I plodded every single day to overcome the shame I felt from letting myself down, letting my parents down, letting my family down, and the shame of becoming this train-wreck of a head case that would never live down having a “mental” illness and being the big shot with big dreams who cursed his home town and everyone he grew up with and never lived up to his own ego-inflated potential.
While all of these struggles had been going on for the 8 years I’d been out of high school, I’d continued with my counseling.
By this time I’d began thinking about my obsessions less, the anxiety had begun to wane, I’d become more confident at work and found myself with OCD-free moments. The medication kept me stable on a high maintenance dose and I don’t know where I’d be without it today.
Present day: I became admin on the Facebook page OCD & Anxiety Awareness “Recovery Coach” after leaving comments on the Timeline, trying to help others out on the Page here and was noticed by the founder and her co-admin. I’m going to walk on the stage on Friday May 10, (two short weeks!!) with my associates degree in computer programming, hopefully on my way to a life changing job and constant remission of my OCD, OSA, and PLMDs. WISH ME LUCK!!!"