You will notice above that I listed some of the things that I find important about me before I listed OCD. That is because OCD is not an important fact about me. It might be serious. It might be time-consuming. Sometimes, I think it is pure evil, but it is never important. It's certainly not important like being a loved one or pursuing your dreams is important. One thing I have learned throughout the course of my illness is that if you put your depression, anxiety and/or intrusive thoughts before the things that actually make you who you are, these conditions will take over your life. Instead, think of it as an obstacle between you and the things you love most. It may be a part of your life, but it's not a part of you. Anyway, that's how I think of it on my good days. Actually, it's just one of the many spins I put on it to make myself feel better.
So, that's enough about how I feel about OCD. Let's talk about how OCD and intrusive thoughts make me feel. It started off small with little disgusting or scary thoughts popping into my head the same way they do in everybody's head. Yes, everyone gets intrusive thoughts, but here's where people with OCD are different. I started to obsess about these thoughts. I thought I was going insane. I thought I would hurt someone or myself. I came up with contingency plans just in case I felt my grip on reality slipping. It never did, but now I check to make sure . . . all the time. Do I feel more happy then usual? Sh*t, check to make sure I'm not going happy crazy. Did I really just think that horribly violent thing? Okay, quick check to make sure I feel in control. This internal dialogue turned insidious fast. That's when the sh*t really hit the fan.
(Note: I had a prolonged illness before I started feeling symptoms of anxiety and depression, but that's not really relevant to what I want to deal with here, so I'll spare you the details.)
Panic attacks. They are what happens when either A. you are minding your own business and you happen to have an anxiety disorder and/or B. when your mind is so obsessed with negative thoughts that your brain thinks you are in actual physical danger. I started getting these pernicious motherf*ckers multiple times a day, even in my sleep. The crazy symptoms that come with my panic attacks, such as violent shaking and nausea, did not help the situation. The first time I had a severe spike in symptoms, I lost somewhere around 40 pounds. Thankfully, OCD symptoms go up and down in severity, so after a few months, I was kind of back to myself again, but I have yet to be symptom-free in the 6 years since.
So, that is, very briefly, what brought me here to this blog. I've been dealing with this crap for a while now. I've seen both ignorant and insightful "professionals," amazing counselors, other mental patients, etc. and I feel like talking about it because I hid my intrusive thoughts for a long time out of fear of being thought dangerous. I even thought about making this blog anonymous, but why bother? I've been in and out of hospitals so much by now that I'm not fooling anyone who matters.
I'm going to end with a small note about trigger warnings. Some people might think I should have one on this blog because it is going to contain content that might be "triggering." However, I am not going to do that because, if you have come to this blog, chances are you are looking for something and that something may be a way to live with what is often a crippling disease of the mind. Warning you about "triggers" will not help you in the long run. It will not benefit exposure therapy or distress tolerance. Life doesn't come with a warning and, if you want to live your life in spite of anxiety and intrusive thoughts, you need to retrain your mind by teaching it how to deal with anything, especially reminders of those things that "trigger" you. I do truly feel sorry if you are feeling distress and encourage you to work on tolerating it with a mental health professional. (I hope to have links to resources up somewhere on this blog soon, if I don't have them already.)