I think, at lest for me, the hardest part of living with OCD is the isolation. Yes the anxiety is not easy, the compulsions are exhausting and all of that. But it is the isolating nature of OCD that grinds me down. I am not just talking about the being different. That we are. And most of us go to great lengths to hide the exact nature of our illness. This secret life we lead, with it’s rules and demands, this private war, this being mentally ill separates us from living and life in many ways.
One of those ways is of course the demands of the disorder, no matter which form it takes, one sure way of avoiding at least some of the nightmare, is just that-avoiding. We start to avoid things that might trigger us and that begins to rob us of any life. Like with reassurance, the more we get or do it the more we need.
A few years back, after realizing I had virtually not left my apartment in two years, other then for absolute necessity. Like food. I came to realize that if I didn’t do something it was going to kill me. So I made a conscious decision to go out. Every day. If only to walk around a bit. Yeah I get triggered when I go out. But I get triggered if I stay in so I go out. But it was more then just hiding away in my little place. I need contact with others (scary thing with contamination OCD). I wrote a piece about that on my old website which is still up.
It was after just such an experience that I realized that I had to get out and interact with the world no matter how much anxiety that produces. I had stopped living and was reduced to just existing. And that lets the OCD win. I cannot allow that. So out I go. And yes, it produces anxiety – every time. But it is preferable to being that alone.
I do have it mirrored on this site, you can read the whole thing here.
And then there is all the loss. In my case the lost relationships, the lost career, the lost potential of what I could have done or do yet. All directly attributable to my OCD in whole or large part. That is isolating. It takes life away from us and leaves us fully aware it is doing that. I could write volumes on loss. And probably will, but not today.
I am lucky in that I have found some creative outlets. When I take my walks I take my camera with me. The theater work I do lets me be very creative, gives me real world contact with people (sometimes a little too much) And most importantly gets me out of my own head and my private war.
I guess what I strive for is to live life as best I can in spite of the added burden of OCD. Living with OCD isn’t “fair”. We didn’t do anything to deserve it but one cannot sit around and indulge in self pity, thats a one way ticket to a life of resentment and sadness.
A wise old man once told me that, “Life is very fair, it treats everyone like shit.”