I am a positive person. I am a positive thinker. I am one of those annoying "the glass is half full" kind of people. I strive to see the silver lining even in the midst of a hurricane as it tears away the walls of my home and pokes holes in my ceiling. I believe that having a positive attitude is necessary for me to keep going when things get complicated and tough because things for me are always complicated and tough. I even have taught my children that anything worth having is hard because life is never easy and if something is easy it usually isn't worth having.
I am a positive individual that tries to see good in every situation. What I am not, is stupid, naive, nor am I an idiot. I am not ignorant or obtuse. I am well read, I spell impeccably but type like I have ham hocks for fingers, I have a high I.Q. although I suck at math. I curse too much. I hate couscous and have an aversion to sushi. I scream obscenities at the football game on my television even though I don't really care who wins. I watch hockey not because I know the teams or care about the scoreboard, I just like to watch people get checked into the walls. I am not perfect. I am not a saint and I certainly have things to atone for in my life. I am sensitive and kind and I am a people pleaser.
My point is, I have lived my whole life trying to please everybody. Trying to fit in. Trying to not be a burden on anyone. I have spent 31 years pretending to be okay. We all do it. We all pretend that OCD is not how it actually is. Sometimes we say it has good qualities to it. Sometimes we claim it is a gift. Sometimes we act as if it is funny or something that doesn't really affect our lives. I have seen people say that they have OCD but only enough to make them "cute" about it. We have even gone so far as to compare our symptoms to each others so we can pretend that it isn't as horrible as it is. Then we chide ourselves for complaining that it has caused us issues or that we get upset by it because other people may have it more severely than we do. Like we have no right to be irritated or upset. Like we have something to apologize for because it still bothers us.
An analogy of this would be if you woke up this morning and your hand just fell of your wrist and landed on the floor. You would be concerned. You would be upset. Would you be less upset if you found out later that some guy two states over woke up with his whole arm gone? Would that make your pain any less real or your frustrations any less valid? No. You would have compassion for him and feel bad for his loss too but you would still have to live your life without your hand and you would have every right to feel however you felt about losing said hand and everything that has to change because you now only have one hand to work with.
OCD is the same way. It doesn't matter who has it and to what degree, if you have OCD and it bothers you then you have a right to be mad, upset, frustrated, depressed, irritated, or disturbed by it. You have a right to your feelings about how OCD bothers you. You are not being whiny or over dramatic because Bob in sales has to wash his hands forty two times and all you do is use hand sanitizer twenty six times a day. Your pain is your pain and it is okay to say that. It is okay to not be okay. You shouldn't have to pretend that your OCD doesn't affect you if it does.
We have convinced ourselves that OCD is just not that bad and in doing so, have convinced everyone else that too. We have made it seem like OCD isn't as bad as other illnesses. It isn't as hard on your mental stability. It isn't as painful. It isn't as note worthy. We are constantly making excuses for it or covering it up. We tell little bitty white lies about it that fester and grow until those little white lies have all been painted together and are now the whitewash we paint ourselves with.
We don't go up to people and say, "Hi my name is Nelly. I have OCD and my life is a fucking disaster because of it." No we say paltry things like ,"Yea, I have OCD and I wash my hands sixty times a day but hey...I like clean hands. I mean, it's not that bad." or "Oh, you know, I can't drive anymore because I keep thinking I have ran over people even though I know I haven't so I have to get out of my car six times to make sure. But I always wanted to learn the bus route anyway." We may tell people we have it but then we move on because it is easier to let others think that we just like to clean or are just quirky. We are so used to acting like it is no big deal that we start to believe it ourselves.....
We excel at pretending that what we go through isn't really because of the soul sucking succubus that lives in our minds. We don't want others to think poorly of us so we don't announce the pain we are in or the struggles we go through daily. We don't want to be a burden or make other people uncomfortable. Never mind, that we are always uncomfortable. As long as no one else is, it is okay. It's not so bad.
I am a positive person but let me be a realist for a second. OCD is not some wondrous gift bestowed upon the lucky few that have been graced with it. It's Hell. Pure mental disfigurement, terror inducing, emotional torture. It's fear and dread and a constant overwhelming plague of guilt. It is a full course meal of pain and frustration. It is a daily struggle just to keep your head above water to breathe. It is a drowning of realty. It is pulling your hair out until you have bald patches, and picking your skin until it scars. It is believing that something is wrong with your body even though no one else sees it but you. It is washing your hands until they bleed, or avoiding places, people, things because you are terrified of your own mind and what it shows you. It is touching, counting, checking things for hours and hours and hours only to have to stand there and do it again. It is living in a constant state of doubting yourself, your mind, the whole world around you. It is being unable to control racing thoughts of violence or sex or blasphemy and then hating yourself and blaming yourself for not being able to control the unwanted thoughts in the first place. It is being afraid of anything or everything and sometimes both at the same time. It is feeling alone and scared and completely fucked up because unlike other mental illnesses you are perfectly aware that it is fucked up in the first place. It is crying yourself to sleep at night, or worrying yourself sick , or having the same thought loop through your mind over and over and over and over an over and over and over again until you want to fucking stick your fingers down your throat in hopes that you can finally purge this evil thing, this mental demon that refuses to let you be. This isn't a pleasure cruise or a college road trip. This isn't about being neat or tidy. This has nothing to do with organization or being punctual. This is Hell. No, this is worse than Hell ever thought about being. This is OCD. This is Hell on steroids mixed with caffeine and a cigarette addiction. This is Hell in technicolor with surround sound. This is Hell imprinted on a broken record trapped under the bent needle of a child's 1950's plastic red Fisher-Price record player.
If it were like we try and brush it off to be, if it were not so bad as we play act it out, than instead of it plaguing it's sufferer it would wear a pink polka dot apron, have a bake sale, and hand out free cupcakes. It would get you promotions instead of making it impossible to function at work or in some cases, like mine, unable to work at all. If it were truly no big deal then people wouldn't commit suicide because of it or become depressed because they have it.
I am not saying that having it makes you doomed or that you can't live with it. I am not saying you can't fight it or manage it. I am not saying that we should all become morose or macabre about it. I am just saying we have to stop minimizing it's affects on our lives to other people. We have to stop comparing our symptoms and severity with others. You have it and it hurts and that is all that needs to be understood. We have to stop people pleasing and worrying about how uncomfortable talking about how it really is to others will make them feel. We have to be real about it because if we act like it is not so bad, how are other people going to understand what we go through? How do we expect them to change their views on it if we keep brushing it off and making it sound like it is no big deal? How can we heal if we keep acting like it isn't the huge ugly vomit colored elephant in the room that it clearly is? I mean, I think if we want people to take what we go through seriously than we have to let them know what we actually go through and just how serious it can be.
OCD is not so bad, it's horrible. It is painful. It is life altering. It is just as serious as every other mental illness. It is a killer, a wounder of souls, a damager to people's lives. It is not a gift, it is a mental illness. It is not cute or fashionable no more than diabetes is cute or fashionable. It is an illness and it causes suffering and I think people should stop treating like it is not so bad, when clearly that is not the truth.