The counting started at a young age. Not the milestone kind where you’re proud to show off how high you can count. Ritual counting, counting that felt as necessary as breathing, because if I didn’t count I believed something bad would happen to someone I loved. Turn the lights on and off four times to protect all four members of my family, four more for extended family and then we got pets for a grand total of twelve light switches each night. This applied to twisting door knobs and signing crosses after evening prayers, which were filled with apologies for who I was. A nauseating puddle of guilt manifested in my stomach once I was old enough for my brain to articulate sadness and failure.Why couldn’t I be happy like all the other kids? None of them seemed preoccupied with the “what ifs”. The most illogical belief they had was belief in Santa Claus.
I had friends, but couldn’t attend sleepovers, because I insisted on sleeping with a clean pair of underwear underneath my pillow in case I was abducted in the middle of the night. Priorities.
Living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder and Depression before I could even spell it. Going to the school nurse to take my Prozac while a boy with ADD waits behind me for his round of Ritalin, terrified that my secret would get out. That the other kids would think I was crazy. This pill wasn’t working. My Prozac consumption was short lived and the therapist that prescribed it died a few months later.
For the next 9 years, I went without therapy and without drugs. Not to say that I didn’t need it, I did, but I didn’t want it. I could sweep each batty meltdown under the teenage hormonal rug. But when I turned twenty, that excuse didn’t hold up anymore. I’d stopped eating which led me to therapy and a spreadsheet of prescriptions. I’d gain 50 pounds and lose 20 then gain 30 and finally try to detox from it all. Breaking out in a fever, sweats, vomiting and heart palpitations. Not sure which was worse. The way I felt on the medication? Or the withdrawals?
It took a solid 10 years of my adult life to find the drug that worked best. A drug that wouldn’t make me gain weight or make me feel like a zombie. And one of the biggest hiccups during that time was coming to terms with the fact that my chemical imbalance is just part of who I am. I’d take my medication for a few months and feel so great that I thought I no longer needed it. Almost thinking of them as antibiotics rather than antidepressants. And then finally after a decade’s worth of heartache, the support of my family, friends and therapist I got on the right drug. And it’s not a crutch or a cure. I still go to therapy and I still struggle. And if anyone should happen to be reading this and believe I don’t need my medication and that I just don’t pray enough, I prayed. I have scripture tattooed on the back of my neck and mental illness in the head on top of it.
Over the last few years I’ve noticed more celebrities sharing about their depression and anxiety. That takes a lot of courage.
But then there’s that large portion of society that doesn’t quite grasp what people with mental illness are actually dealing with. Some of it is just innocent ignorance some of it is just dick and I can’t speak for everyone when I say this, but I feel it’s important. Even if no one reads this.
Using the acronym “OCD” like it’s as simple as “YOLO” is dick. There’s a vast difference between being particular about something and feeling helpless in a sea of repetitive thoughts and debilitating sadness.
“I like to make sure all our picture frames are straight, because I’m so OCD.”
Yes, you a majority of society.
“I have to have the volume up on the radio several digitalis above my age so I live that long.”
This will become more difficult as I age.
“I wash my hands a lot during flu season, because I’m so OCD.”
I know people that say these things constantly, people I love and enjoy being around, but it doesn’t change the fact that it sucks.
I don’t go around saying “I haven’t eaten in a couple of days. I’m so anorexic.”
And while I’m at it, when someone is moody it doesn’t give you the right to call them bi-polar. HUGE difference.
So if you’re reading this and you’re someone that uses “OCD” like “LOL” I hope this hasn’t offended you as much as that behavior offends me. And if you find that someone you know is especially moody lately, they probably aren’t bi-polar, just giving up caffeine.