Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Irony Of It All

I asked my behavioral therapist today why he chose to go into this specific field.....why anxiety disorders? He was quiet for a few moments and I could tell he was trying to construct his answer before blurting out words. "I hope this doesn't offend you, but....I find it very interesting....the inappropriate reactions people have to certain situations." I laughed at his answer, assured him it was okay to say that, and completely agreed that the reactions, or compulsions, that we do are extremely interesting. What's even more fascinating is the motivation, or the key, which drives OCD.

OCD is such a multi-faceted disorder. The anxiety, the feeling of fear, the emotions, the pain, the embarrassment, the shame, is shared by all who suffer from the disorder; but the triggers and the presumed consequence of what will happen if the compulsions are not completed can be as different and unique as we are individuals. However, the presumed consequence, or the fear, is the key to understanding a person living with OCD. To complicate things, that key element is often the exact thing that we don't want to talk about. We believe it SO deeply and are so scared by our belief, yet we know how irrational and ridiculous it will sound if we say it out loud. The two opposing feelings perpetuate the silent and secret struggle.

During my treatment in LA, one of my assignments was to write out my fear. I remember feeling a pit in my stomach and beginning to panic. I had never articulated my fear to anyone in my entire life. I can't do this.... I can't think about it.... It might make it happen faster if I let it leave my head.... No one will understand.... It will only lead doctors to confirm that I'm crazy.... I'm scared.... I can't do this.... I don't want to think about it....

I started to cry as I wrote out my fear for the first time in my life. I could barely catch my breath as I read it out loud.

I'm isolated. I can't move. I stand till my legs swell up and my feet are numb. I have no friends. I never get married. I don't get to be a mom. I'm a bad mom. I can't move, and I'll never be able to move again. I go into a comatose state. I'll never live life again. Life is over even though I'm not dead. I'd rather be dead. I don't get to laugh again. I don't understand words. My life is over even though my heart is still beating. I have to be cared for otherwise my heart will stop beating. I'm a burden. I was normal once. I was a free spirit and now I'm a shell. I'm absent of emotion and feeling. I'm nothing. I'm blank.

Often, people who have contamination related OCD, have fears of contracting or spreading a disease, dying, or causing someone to die. I'm not afraid of any of those things. I'm afraid of not being able to move. As irrational as my fear is, it has become so real to me. Touching things that make me feel dirty, being too close or coming into contact with something that makes me feel dirty, causes my mind to spin so quickly out of control about how I'm not going to be able to move....my life is literally going to stop if I don't fix this now. So I fix it. I wash my hands, I shower, I clean, I sanitize, I use barriers, I avoid "dirty" things at all costs. Not being aware of when or how, more and more things were becoming "dirty"....forbidden, if I wanted to continue to live life. The irony of it all is that my fear of the presumed consequence is the exact thing restricting my freedom.

1 comment:

  1. Your insight continues to amaze me! You are so articulate with your feelings and it seems as though this comes from all your hard work and a deeper understanding of yourself and your struggle. Keep fighting. You are SO loved!!