Day 15: How has your life been effected by your illness(es)? (Some ideas are: relationships, career, school)
Every aspect of my life has been impacted by my OCD. Every day activities like showering, getting dressed, driving and eating are made more difficult than necessary because of my OCD. It almost ruined my marriage, it’s caused some relationships and friendships to crumble, I struggled through all levels of school with perfectionism, and it has prevented me from furthering my career. For the last year and 7 months that I have been at my current job, I have struggled to put myself out there, apply for things, volunteer and be heard. I was afraid to speak up, to ask questions and to network – because I didn’t want to be rejected. This is why I only applied to Georgia Tech and a backup school when I really wanted to attend Harvard from the time I was in middle school. If I don’t apply, they can’t reject me. Same thing with my career – if I just keep my head down and work hard, eventually I’ll be recognized. But after a few months of therapy and a lot of realizing that I was only hurting myself, I started speaking up and being my own advocate for advancement. Now, I’ve been promoted, I’m more social, I get invited to lunch and people come to me for help and questions.
My entire life I’ve battled this invisible monster, and for 25 years, it has thoroughly kicked my ass. But the thing is, I wasn’t battling it – I was enabling it. I was feeding it, allowing it to get larger and larger until it consumed me. The saying goes, “it’s always darkest before the dawn.” And for me, I had to hit a point of “no return,” where I couldn’t justify the things it was taking from me daily, where I couldn’t fall any further, where I finally had to face the facts and quit kidding myself. My OCD has touched every single part of my life, but I don’t think you can undo that. It’s like having a smoking section in a restaurant, or a peeing section in a pool – eventually, it’s all going to be contaminated. My therapy and my medication are just the hazmat crew coming in to contain the virus and clean it up. Maybe that’s what my brain needs – a good scrub down and a lot of TLC. 🙂