At around 9 am one Thursday morning, after staying up all night engaging in one of my darkest-held secrets, an addiction to adrenaline that I have acquired after years of almost debilitating anxiety, something on the web caused me to get so angry that I shut my laptop, put it away, and stormed out of my room, determined to do something to make a change. What I saw was this: a simple t-shirt on an online shopping website that mocked an illness that has tormented me for years, and that I have spent the last year and a half working to unwind. Even after the work required in the last year and a half, which has included getting a second job to pay for the professional attention I need, traveling thousands of miles to see the professionals that can help me, and putting in immeasurable amounts of my own energy, I am still plagued by this illness day after day. It makes me late for work or important appointments. It causes me to stay in my room rather than spend time with the people I love. It prevents me from going outside and enjoying the beautiful nature each day. It makes it difficult to maintain stable relationships with housemates, coworkers, and peers. And it makes me, at some points, feel hate for myself.
No, this illness is not chronic fatigue syndrome or fibromyalgia or some kind of cancer. This is a mental illness, one that is too commonly the brunt of jokes and is thrown around like some kind of slang word that can be found on urbandictionary: OCD. Yep, that’s right. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. New research has shown that as many as 1 in 40 people experience this suffering illness in our country. Think about it. If you’re in a room with 40 people or more (say, a mall food court, a church gathering, a downtown festival, etc.) at least one of you suffers from OCD. What does this mean to you? If you thought about this every time you were in a crowd, would you continue to make these cruel jokes that make us believe that there is something wrong with ourselves? I would like to think not. If so, maybe you are the one with the pathology or chronic illness that needs to be treated.
And yes, OCD has caused me to suffer in many ways in my life for the past 23 years. But, it has also been a God-send. It’s provided me opportunities to look into myself that I wouldn’t have been motivated to do otherwise. If my life was easy, and I could go through on “coast mode,” do you think I would have gone through the healing experiences, and worked my ass off to make them happen, like I have? I bet not. I would have been completely content to sit at home on my computer, shopping on etsy and performing all the motions some might expect of someone my age and demographics, yet getting no satisfaction out of my life at all, because I didn’t know myself.
And do you know what else OCD has given me? A REASON TO LIVE. A reason to get up each morning, because I have something to fight for. If I had “everything” going on in my life already, what would be the reason to work hard? What would be my motivation? What would I pray for at night? If I didn’t want to make a change, if I wasn’t in a place of learning something, what would my life be for? What worth would it have to me, or to the people around me, who teach me things each day? I want to live this life I’ve been given. I’M PROUD OF MY OCD. I’LL SAY IT OUT LOUD. I EXPERIENCE OCD AND FUCK YOU IF YOU THINK THERE’S SOMETHING “WRONG” OR “WEIRD” OR “DIFFERENT” ABOUT ME. I am beautiful just the way I am. Nature thinks so. So what’s your problem?
So, what do you think?
Have you ever been frustrated that others make fun of mental illness, or for that matter, make fun of any illness, handicap, disability, or other feature of other people? Let’s speak up about this misuse of language that is used to mentally and verbally hold down those that are deemed as being “different” in our shallow society. Let’s take back the label “OCD” (“that’s so OCD, I can be so OCD about this or that, etc..”) that’s misused and reminds sufferers of the misunderstanding and mocking of our experience and guide it back to its original intent: to describe an illness that millions of people experience in our country alone, and one that is not a friend to bear.
#TAKEOCDBACK Are you with me?? Spread the news!!!