I was diagnosed with OCD when I was relatively young. When I tell people they say things like “You must have a clean house” or “I have never noticed”. As I shake my head in annoyance, I explain to them that I have a different type of OCD. Instead of behaviors and actions, I worry. The simplest way to explain it is this - You know when you have a song stuck in your head, and it cycles and cycles and cycles until you want to pull your hair out? Well, my brain does that with fears, worries and doubts.
The unwritten rule to having a mental illness: not everyone is going to understand; it’s your job to educate.
My brain is a battlefield; a war zone filled with two competing sides. One part of my brain wants to be Wonder Woman, and the other is the negative Nancy, a real big bitch. Thankfully, most days Wonder Woman saves the day. But sometimes Bitch Nancy takes over. The bitch likes to sleep all day, fears everything and brings down cloud of dreams I have floating over me in the form of self-doubt, negativity, and fear. Bitch Nancy thinks that I don’t deserve anything good and that the world is out to get me. Wonder woman is full of flowers, cares about everyone, cries at puppy videos and then makes ten lists of how she can save all of the animals in the world. She’s a real Leslie Knope: a real positive go-getter.
I aspire to be Wonder Woman 100% off the time. But sometimes, it just isn’t possible.
Earlier this year I hit a 1. It’s the low of the low - rock bottom. It’s where Bitch Nancy cuts in line and takes the lead. In other words, my OCD, anxiety and depression absorbed a whole new role in my life.
10 is when I am fully Leslie Knope, posting fluffy heart full Facebook statuses, and 1 is when I am too afraid to open my feed to see how happy everyone else is.
I felt it coming and tried to do everything to counteract Bitch Nancy. But she came, marching into my front door and flipping my world upside down. The bitch is an anorexic. She avoids mirrors and doesn’t eat because it makes her sick to her stomach. She has ADD. She can’t focus on anything. She has a sleeping problem. She sleeps too much, or doesn’t sleep at all. She is a nervous wreck. She is unable to go to work, school, drive, or do any basic daily tasks. She is antisocial. The thought of being in a room full of people makes her shake.
It’s a family affair.
This isn’t anything that I choose so I have learned not to participate in self-blame. You can’t help what is given to you, but you can choose how you accept it. Mental illness is present on both sides of my family. Mix that with a troubled childhood and you get a brain that needs a band aide. I always struggled with it, but it wasn’t until I knew what it was that I found out how to cope with it- How to patch it up.
D, you have something called OCD. The chemicals in your brain aren’t as balanced as they should be.
My diagnosis was scary but had a sense of relief. I was not alone. Other people live with the same mental illness that I do. Truth: I just replaced suffer with the word live. Many people live truly great lives with the same condition I have. It is possible. With the care that I received after my diagnosis I have become aware. Aware that help is needed, aware that mental illness is real, aware that I am not crazy, aware that I can live the life that I want to live, and aware that I am a fighter.
Just as we all have that one person in our family who drives us nuts but we still have to invite them to family gatherings; I have to accept that Bitch Nancy will stop by every once in a while. This is exactly why I have Wonder Woman on speed dial.