March 15, 2010


Hope for the Future

I've been living with something that is difficult and I've decided it might be time to allow myself to have some hope for the future. Ever since I was a teenager (and possibly even before then) I've had Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, often abbreviated as OCD, which is an anxiety disorder. At different times I've had it pretty severely. And by “different times” I really mean more like all the time. I've adapted to concealing this component of who I am, keeping it secret, and avoided thinking about myself.

Its easier to make sense of OCD from a clinical perspective, but much harder to do so when you're in the midst of living with it, trying to avoid the unpleasant thoughts that themselves can trigger an anxiety meltdown. I think part of the reason I decided to study Psychology in college was so I could better understand the thinking process, my thinking process. That was not necessarily the best idea because at the time I wanted to believe that I no longer had OCD. I wasn't really being honest with myself then and I wasn't ready to confront the issue. But I wanted to understand the way psychologists thought about OCD so I could feel comfortable with the way they might be thinking about me. The clinical explanation is simple: Someone who engages in compulsions to reduce the anxiety caused from obsessions, which are intrusive thoughts. And although that is certainly an accurate description, its not nearly that simple to really understand what it is like for the person experiencing the disorder. The symptoms of OCD can be any number of activities specific to the person suffering. Generally speaking, living with OCD is like living in an anxious cloud that without warning can turn into a storm cloud in the form of an anxiety attack.

Not long ago I was watching the show Monk, it was actually the second to final episode, and there was a marathon of some of the best episodes in conjunction with the final two shows. I had somehow missed this show growing up even though I was well aware of it maybe because it seemed silly in contrast to my experiences. So I watched a few episodes and realized that maybe I could live with my problem, in that I could live with accepting this part of who I am.

I guess I've come to realize two things: 1) having OCD is part of who I am, and I need to own up to that. And (2) I must be willing to trust life if I ever really want to embrace what life has to offer. This would sort of take a leap of faith essentially. And I have a couple reasons to think that taking that leap is a safe bet. Friends and people I know who care about me. But its not easy to fully engage life when you know that at any moment an OCD meltdown and anxiety attack can flair up with little or no provocation.

As odd as it might seem, I can literally be grateful because if I'd not been motivated to escape the prison of OCD, how else would I ever have ended up living the life I have, and making the friendships I have made. What could possibly matter more than that? I can't imagine how my life might have turned out the way it did if I hadn't been so motivated to make a change. So here goes nothing (or everything). I'm intentionally not keeping my fingers crossed!