In keeping with the “no friend to OCD” theme here, I came across this line: “I saw my friend, he’s in my head. And he said, ‘You don’t remember me, do you?'”
Isn’t it sad that we see OCD as our friend? It’s so much a part of who we are and our everyday lives, it’s hard to let go of it. My therapist describes OCD as a Monster that you are handcuffed to at all times. The Monster tells you what to do and how to do it and how to feel. And it convinces you that compulsions and rituals are the key to losing that anxiety we feel. And the Monster makes you doubt yourself until you live in this constant cycle of obsessions, anxiety and compulsions until you can’t live inside your own brain. And every time you acquiesce to the Monster, you feed it and it gets larger and more powerful with each ritual. And this is completely true for me. When my grandfather died, my OCD exploded, and over the last 6 years, I’ve fed the Monster willingly. And it has grown larger and more powerful until it completely consumed me. It’s ruined friendships and relationships with people I love, and it came close to destroying my marriage. And the only way to defeat the Monster and begin to regain control of your brain is talking back to it and starving it. You starve it by not performing those rituals and by working through the obsessions. Oftentimes, I find myself repeating, “It’s not me, it’s my OCD” when a particularly annoying/upsetting/irrational thought enters my brain.
My OCD is my friend, at least it was. It kept me company and helped me cope (albeit, in a very unhealthy way) with my grandfather’s death. I have always felt like OCD was a positive in my life. “Look how organized I am! Look at how efficient I am! I take charge because I’m super motivated and care about things being right!” In reality, I was oh so very sick – “Look how I deal with stress, pens all in a straight line! Don’t touch anything or I’ll cut your arm off and have a nervous breakdown! Look how I can’t relinquish control or my head will explode!” And despite the battles and the literal war zone in my head, on the outside I was a successful, self-proclaimed Type A person, armed with a Georgia Tech degree and a can-do attitude! People in my life had NO idea I was struggling. They saw me tired all the time – obviously from working so hard, when in reality, anxiety was keeping me up at night and I struggled to get out of bed each morning. People thought I was normal: “Sure, her eating habits are weird, but it’s okay, she’s just quirky.” Nobody knew and that was the whole point. As much as I embraced my OCD on the inside, I hid it from everyone. I couldn’t articulate the war being waged inside my head. And instead of seeking help, I dove deeper into myself until I was forced to face it.
Faced with the potential for a divorce only 18 months inside my marriage, I had to do something. I love my husband with my whole heart, but I couldn’t live the way I was living anymore. I was willing to seek help to save my marriage, and I found a therapist who explained to me (very matter-of-factly), I had to choose between the Monster or my husband. And for quite some time, I had been choosing the Monster. The score was similar to a high school football team playing the Superbowl champs. The Monster was doing a touchdown dance in the end zone for the 100th time, while my husband was breathless on the 50-yard-line, unable to catch up. When I realized what was going on, it made immediate sense. The problem in our marriage wasn’t lack of love or respect or even claims of infidelity. The problem was me.
I’ve been in therapy right about 6 months now. It’s taken this long to realize that OCD isn’t my friend, my ally or my companion. OCD is my enemy. And it feels like my “friend” is in my head, and he’s saying, “You don’t remember me, do you?” Nope, can’t say I do. I’m not the same person I was 6 months ago. I don’t even recognize myself half the time. It’s like I’ve gotten a chance to reinvent myself, to start fresh and to be who I know I can be inside. I have OCD, but OCD doesn’t have me.
So I’m just going to say the thing you’re not supposed to say – It’s not me, it’s you. And we’re done, OCD. And I hope and pray with all my soul that I stick to it and don’t let you get a grip in my mind again. Because the only way to get rid of a tumor is to cut it out. And if I don’t cut you out of my life now, you may never leave. And that’s a risk I’m not willing to bet my life on.