I heard once that mental illness is the dulling of the senses, the cloudiness of the mind, the misty fog that envelopes one's emotions, one's surrounding, one's reaction time. That may be for some but, for me it is the opposite. It is a sensory overload, too much information, too many germs, too many unwanted stimuli, too much, too fast, too loud. It burns the senses. It tingles the nerve endings. It emotes the fear, anxiety and an overwhelming sense of guilt that never leaves it's roost. That feeling. That feeling of dread, merciless as it is patient, waits to spring on you but only when you are unaware and unprepared. (Figures).
Many people misunderstand OCD. They chalk it up to being quirky or think it is a humorous dysfunction. I want to yell.... scream.... plead. "Please for the love of god, some days I am barely hanging on here! Some days I want to melt into the universe like molten rock and seep far away into the depths of the dark alone! Some days I want to pound my head into the wall until I finally knock whatever sanity I am clinging to out of my head, so that way I wont realize that I am crazy and can just be crazy without the responsibility of knowing it. Worrying over it. Judging myself for it.
People don't get it.....
I am told constantly to stop worrying or just try and be calm. Try and be calm???!!!??? One does not stay calm with an anxiety disorder. You do not/can not calm the storm of emotions when the storm is really a tornado wrapped in a hurricane enveloped in a typhoon. It is impossible. It doesn't work that way. This isn't simply a thunder storm of fear with simple wind gusts and rain, this is a God given natural disaster. Blowing everything down and sucking up everything in it's path. This is a declared devastation area, not simply a little bit of anxiety.
The saying time heals all wounds is wrong. OCD sufferers never forget. Time makes no difference. Once the information, story, scolding, or fear is said aloud it sticks. It gets thrown in with the other information and swirls and spins in the washing machine of our obsessions. Never to stop, never to be set free, just filling the machine more and more full with no where for the run off to go, until it it starts leaking from the top. Pouring unto the floor in monumental amounts and with scary accuracy. My mental illness is showing again....it isn't the first time and wont be the last. The information, the fears, the doubts ricochet through the vacant halls of the mind. Bouncing from one fear to another. I can hear the them as they ping off the concrete and speed at break neck speed into the vast darkened corners of my mind.
Asking me to calm down or to forget is like asking a drowning man to stop flailing his arms as he struggles to stop inhaling water. It is like asking the child to forget their mother's voice. Asking the lion not to hunt when it is hungry. It is like asking your body to simply forget how to breathe. It is as involuntary as an allergic reaction.
OCD is no less unintentional. I can not control it but I can learn to function with it. It is not my fault that I have it and it is not my shame to carry. It is however, my cross to bear and I do it as best as I can.
It is for me like the water I swallow, the air I breathe, the feeling of earth beneath my feet. It simply is. So, please don't ask me to turn off something that has no off switch. Please don't ask me to stop. Please don't act like I am just doing this because I want to.
Try and understand my plight and my pain and then go on and teach the world. All of us suffer. No one enjoys it, some of us are just more used to it than others. Some of us handle it better and some of us are better at pasting a plastic smile on our faces and faking it.