When I was about seventeen, I found out that I had OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder).
Okay, 'found out' is a little bit misleading. It makes it sound easy, like I just went to the doctor's one day and he checked my pulse and said, “Mmm, yes. It looks like you've got OCD.”
In fact, 'finding out' was anything but easy. It was a few years of struggling through bizarre behaviors, trying to figure out what made me do these weird things, wondering if there was something wrong with me, piecing together scraps of information about mental illnesses and disorders, etc. etc. etc.
But that's a story for another day. The point is, finding out was both a relief (“Whew, there is an explanation. I have a mental disorder”) and a blow (“Oh my gosh. I have a mental disorder! There really is something wrong with me”). Once I figured it out, or at least had a pretty good suspicion that that was what was going on, it became a lot easier to find information about it. But finding out about this disorder was very similar to finding out that I had it in the first place. The information was both relieving and depressing. On one hand, as I read the limited number of books on mental disorders that were available from our local library, I was comforted by the fact that there were other people out there with the same problem, and at first, that was where my focus was. “Yes! I'm not the only nutcase out there. I'm not even the worst nutcase out there!” But as I continued reading, I became increasingly alarmed by the ends of the OCD anecdotes. Because there really was no end. There were stories of marriages broken up, jobs lost, relationships ruined, and self-esteem destroyed, all by OCD. There was never a happy ending. Eventually, I stopped reading about it. As a matter of fact, I have not picked up a book about OCD since then.
It was a few years later that my family suggested I start a blog about OCD. I admit, I was hesitant at first. I'd written about it, but only in my journal. Putting personal feelings like that on the internet? I wasn't sure. But those books I'd read kept coming back to me. If there were other people out there with OCD, I didn't want them to have to learn about it from sad stories like that, all written by therapists who probably only saw those people when they came in crying. People with OCD ought to have a chance to learn about it from somebody who actually has it, and whoever tells them about it ought to tell them that, as tough as it is, it's not the end of the world.
So, while I'm not a therapist or a doctor, I do have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and I can assure you that, OCD or no OCD, life goes on. And you know something else? Life is good. While the books I read portrayed this disorder (unintentionally, I'm sure) as a sad but true end to all things joyful, I live with it, and I know that OCD and a great time are not mutually exclusive. So if you have OCD, or if you know and love somebody with OCD, relax. It'll be okay. There will definitely be rough times, but I'm hoping that with this blog I can make it a little easier to deal with them. So whether you're able to learn from experiences I've had, or you just like to know that there's somebody else out there who's kind of like you, I'm glad you're along for the ride with me and my OCD.