In 1995 I was a senior in college. I was excellent student, some would say driven. I was outgoing, flamboyant, friendly, gregarious, risk-taking. During the fall semester I found myself not attending class, crying all the time, looking at the ground. I could not make decisions or carry on conversations. I could not decide what to eat or where to sit or what to do with myself. I was totally paralyzed form the inside out. I heard only loud noises reverberating in my brain. I shouted at myself all the time just to keep the noise out, just to drown out the white noise in my head. I felt like I was sharing brain space with a roaring lion. I could not sleep as I would think that a flaming big mac truck would run me over, in spite of my location on the third floor. I could not drive as I feared getting into accidents. I daydreamed that my family died and I went to their funerals. Things on the side of the road were on fire and cars blew up before my eyes. It was a bizarre time in my life as I felt I was loosing my mind. My sanity. I thought I was going crazy.
I have been diagnosed with major depression and OCD.
Most recently my OCD has manifested itself in a slightly different way. I could not merge or turn left in the car as I felt an overwhelming sense of anxiety and horror. I could not sleep. I repeated everything to everyone, as if they had forgotten it the world would blow up. I checked my alarm clock a gazillion times before I went to bed. If my husband would not check it for me, I would stay awake until he went asleep so I could check it without him getting mad. I always had to know where all my things were at all times; I would count my water glasses, my silverware, my plates. I had to be able to put my hands on or visualize the location of my wallet and my keys. I was antisocial and agoraphobic as I felt that strangers stared at me all of the time. Like God marked me with a blue halo or something. I had a gazillion back up plans: what if I cannot go to the grocery store because there is traffic? what if I cannot go down this street on my way to work? what if it snows tomorrow and I cannot leave the house? what if I don’t have milk at home? I had a plan for each of these things, and a plan in case the back up plan went bad. My mind was obsessed with certainty, predictability, precision, accuracy, perfection.
It is a daily struggle not be overwhelmed with the details of life. To learn what thoughts are rational and irrational, to accept that there are some things in the world (many things, actually) that I can not control. That I will never control. I have learned to accept that medication and therapy make me a stronger, better person, better wife, better daughter. I am still learning to trust myself, trust my instinct, trust that if handed a situation (like what to do when there is not milk for cereal) I can successfully deal with it on the fly. Without a plan.
I wish that some people would understand that the human condition is diverse and robust. I wish that people would not make fun of psychiatric medications and I wish that people would understand that I cannot “just stop”, despite my best efforts. I wish that I would be bored, that I could relax, that I could put aside the lists and the thoughts and the plans and just sit on my front lawn and watch the world go by. Or to pick up a book at 2 PM on Saturday afternoon and just read… read until my eyes hurt!
Thanks for listening, World. Deep down inside I know that I am not so strange after all.
The content in this post is mirrored from my original OCD site here;