Day 6: Do you have a family history of mental illness or mental health issues?
So I touched on this a little in my last post. I have stated before that I am a 4th generation of OCD sufferers in my family, and that’s what we know about. I have a few other instances of various mental illnesses throughout my extended families, but no one has been committed, as far as I know. My family and I assume that I am a 4th generation because we only recently discovered that what we thought was normal, actually wasn’t. My great grandfather had a pegboard for his tools and on the pegboard, each tool was outlined so that every tool had it’s place and was in it’s place. And if he let you borrow a tool, he would write a note and attach it to the board saying who borrowed it and the date they took it. Now, I see this as simply the most efficient way to keep track of my tools, and if I had a toolshed, this is the way I would run it. But apparently it’s not what “normal” people do.
This isn’t related to genetics, per se, but my husband was diagnosed with ADHD about the same time that I received my diagnosis of OCD. My therapist is amazed that we have been together 9 years (married 2 years) and haven’t gotten divorced or killed each other yet. We are literally on opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of our disorders. We are quite the pair. The last 9 months with him have been trying but amazing. We are learning how to deal with each other and how to communicate without getting into huge fights. My therapist said that when couples come in for therapy to save their marriage, oftentimes the therapist will separate them and work on their individual issues first before bringing them together again to discuss. She said we essentially did that on our own. We each sought treatment individually for our respective disorders and, in turn, saved our marriage. We are much happier now than we were 9 months ago and for that, I am grateful.
I will say this, I was afraid that my diagnosis was going to slap a permanent “crazy person” label on me, but what I’ve found is that so many people are touched by mental illness that it’s almost inescapable to not be impacted. Because I have sought treatment and I’m open with my family and friends about my life with OCD, people are open with me in discussing their own mental health struggles or those of their loved ones. If you look hard enough, I’ll bet everyone has a skeleton in their family mental illness closet.