Hello, my friends. And Happy Wednesday! I am grateful for this little space for many reasons, and this is yet one more. This blog allows me to bring attention to Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, or OCD. I was diagnosed with OCD in my early 40s, although I now know I exhibited symptoms for years prior. That's the thing about mental health disorders. They are often shrouded in secrecy for fear of judgment and shame, at least until lately. We are finally in a place where people realize that the stigma surrounding mental health issues needs to be broken. I talk freely about my OCD in hopes that I can empower others to do the same. I have done my job if even one person feels strong enough to seek help for a mental issue because I have been open and honest about mine. OCD is hard enough. Thinking you are alone with the constant thoughts, obsessions, and anxiety is unbearable.
Talking about mental health issues without judgment, educating yourself on them, and showing compassion toward those suffering from them are all ways you can help break the stigma surrounding OCD and other mental health disorders. One other thing. As someone suffering from OCD, I find it frustrating and difficult to hear people casually say they are " a little OCD." Trust me. Having OCD is not fun or trendy. It isn't being neat and tidy. It is having an irrational thought pop into your head and being unable to let it go. Did I turn the stove off? Did I just run over someone? Did I always have this mole on my arm? The thoughts persist for so long that you begin to feel anxious and experience a sense of impending dread or doom. Your stomach aches. You start sweating, and your heart starts pounding. You think something terrible is going to happen. So you try to make it go away. You check the stove. Again. And again. You turn your car around and drive slowly to check to see if you hit something. You look in the mirror at the mole. Over and over. You ask someone else to look. You feel better for a minute or two. And then the entire cycle begins again. How do I know this? Because I have experienced every single one of these things. And it sucks.
But there is hope. You can learn to live with OCD. You can stop the cycle. How do I know? Because I have. Through therapy, hard work, and medication, I have made OCD a part of my life. It no longer controls it. I am not defined by it. Does it pop back in occasionally to ensure I haven't forgotten it? You bet! But I have the tools, the confidence, and the medication to deal with it. So, there's that!