July 14, 2015 by positivelypeachie
I have OCD, but I haven’t told many people. My childhood best friend, one sister, my hubby (of course) and you guys. That’s it.
When I was a child, I had two phobias – one was vomiting and the second was caterpillars. There was no rhyme or reason for these phobias, but they were very real and would send me fleeing in desperation at the sign of either one. My family teased me relentlessly about it, and they still occasionally bring it up. Through those interactions, I started to learn it was something to be ashamed of and became a master at hiding it.
Later, when I received the actual OCD diagnosis, I was resistant and
resentful pissed. OCD is what Jack Nicolson has in As Good As It Gets – you know, when he shuffles around with his hair sticking up toting his own utensils. That’s OCD. I don’t have that. I have a job, a family, a life. I just need to wash my hands a lot, and count when I pour something, and keep curtains/doors either all the way open or closed, and lock/relock the doors, and ask repeat questions, and change utensils/dishes a lot and touch drinks to the divot in my chin before I drink…and silly but harmless things like that. The more I worked with my counselor, the more desperate I felt – despite my aversion to it, I could clearly see that I did have it, and that made me feel more helpless than anything else had ever done. However, I looked for the silver lining and found my way into some form of acceptance (I’m still working on that). I truly believe my final level of acceptance will be in being open about it, but I will get there one day. For now, I will have to make do with my little but mighty group of supporters.
There is a lot of stigma out there around this illness, exacerbated by the god-awful fab of claiming you have “OCD tendencies” because you like thinks a certain way and which makes the illness seem like a walk in the park when it’s really like walking a plank over shark infested waters where you must juggle a red ball, while tapping your toes in an exact pattern and blinking 23 1/3 times a minute. I realize there won’t be any chance until people start standing up and talking about it. Yet, despite how badly I wish I was, I am not there yet. It’s a strange place to be in – one where you fiercely believe in standing up for others and what’s right, and yet immensely afraid to stand up for yourself. It would be easier to have more support behind me, so I think the next step is to start telling people in my life and learning not to put any weight in their potentially negative responses. Infertility has taught me that much, at least.
Long term secrets just aren’t a good thing, and I truly believe they are a detriment to mental health. While short term secrets can be fun and exciting (surprise party, presents, trip, etc.) – long term secrets just hurt. I think that’s why movements like Post Secret have become so incredibly popular – we all need to release those pent up secrets and feel like someone is listening.
Let go of your long term secrets if you can. Never hold on to something that makes you feel bad. I’m going to try to let go of mine, even if it means people will know that the real reason I don’t come to dinner parties is because you don’t switch cooking utensils between raw and cooked food, than that I already have plans. Sometimes the truth hurts.