Tuesday, October 29, 2013
I was diagnosed with OCD about 10 years ago...shortly after my father died. It's not uncommon for a death or traumatic event to bring OCD out in full force. I had both. I found out my father died while I was in an airport on a lay over....just one 5 hour flight away. I almost made it home in time. I was half way there. That moment changed my life. Even typing about it right this second makes me tear up.
OCD is a daily struggle. It's an impossible opponent. Just when you think you've made progress something (one of your triggers) pops up out of the blue and destroys all your hope that you have any control. It's irrational. It's overwhelming. It leaves you full of self hatred and guilt. The worst part about having OCD is that people who suffer with this illness are NOT crazy. We are NOT stupid. We are NOT foolish. We are extremely aware of how irrational we are being.....but we do it anyway. We do it because we HAVE to.
We do it because we can't trust ourselves to know what's safe and what isn't. That thing so many people depend on...that gut feeling that you listen to...is gone for many OCD sufferers.
I recently read a book called.....''Overcoming Compulsive Washing. Free your mind from OCD, by Dr. Paul R. Munford. He has a series of books...all for different kinds of OCD. I am a washer. I am what people would call a germaphobe. The real term is ''Mysophobia''
The book was hard to get through because it shared true life stories and they hit so close to home that it was as if I had written them.
I still have a LONG way to go but I can say with all honesty...it's helping. I am practicing the exercises and they're helping. I'm not cured...in fact there is no cure for OCD. There is treatment. You can manage it with drugs, behavioral therapy or both. The therapist that diagnosed me and I used to joke about my irrational fear of medication...so behavioral therapy is my choice.
One of the major things I am working on is not turning to my husband for validation that everything is ok. That I am ok. That what I touched, saw, ate and so on and so forth will not hurt me, him, our son, or dog. Yes...I'm serious. And to be clear, it's not a simple...''Yes Nikki you are fine'' It's me asking repeatedly in different ways and him having to talk me through it. It's COMPLETELY draining. He feels so powerless to help me and I feel so ashamed for needing his help.
So today something happened. My instinct was to email my husband and ask him to call me when he got a chance. I never ever call him at work. I sent the email and then sat waiting. But something happened. I started thinking things through. I started doing what the book taught me to do. And slowly I calmed down. I followed the steps and I took care of myself. I still wanted to talk to my husband but I knew that was not the right thing to do. I knew if he called I would tell him and he would comfort me. He would do this because he loves me and I would let him because it feels good and safe.
So I emailed him back and told him not to call. He asked if everything was ok. I told him it was an OCD thing that I needed to handle on my own. I know the next email will be something like...''I'm so proud of you'' and that will be sweet. But the victory I had today is much sweeter.
I don't feel all better, but I didn't use my husband for something I need to learn to do on my own. Part of managing OCD is to allow yourself to be uncomfortable. To be scared or worried and to just BE with those feelings. So today that's what I did. Today...this time, I got it right and each time I get it right it's like a stepping stone to freedom from OCD. One step at a time....I'm getting there.