I am a PureO OCD sufferer so you won't see me touch door knobs or spend three hours in the bathroom tapping my underarm deodorant on my arm pit until it feels right. I don't appear to have OCD. Not like you see it on television or in the movies. I can't be that sick, right?
OCD is a mental illness. It affects me in my daily life. It is constant. The double edge sword is that in having a mental illness I am subject to the notions of what that word means and the stigma that lies within. Because I have mental illness, I am judged to be sick.
Because I have no outward symptoms some say I am not sick. Because the word mental illness is involved I am judged to be too sick. Some feel OCD is not a true mental illness and therefore it is deemed to be not serious. That is a convenient lie. OCD is serious and it can be deadly without proper treatment.
There is a ridiculous amount of time placing labels on everything. As an OCD sufferer I love a good label, but with labels comes a vast "grey" area. Somethings can not be labeled effectively. Much like musician who sings a certain genre of music. If they make a new record in another genre, people become confused. They have no idea where to put the record on the shelves. Which label does it fall under?
Labels can be helpful to put everything in it's place, however, somethings don't really have a defined place. Somethings just are.
Most of my life has been lived in the "grey" area. A void of labels if you will. A place where time ceases and is devoid of gravity. To some I am too sick not to be labeled and yet to others I am not sick enough to be counted. So I have resided in the place where labels cease to exist. A space where things have no placement. Objects and people that have no defined area floating around. I hover with the forgotten blender you received from your Aunt Irene three Christmases ago. The lost thing-a-ma-bob you threw in the bottom of the closet because you could never find a place to display it. The mix matched socks that have lost their mates somewhere between the being placed in the washer and coming out of the dryer. This vast grey area where nothing makes sense or can be shelved. A place for the forgotten and unidentifiable. I reside here.
The truth of the matter is, I can identify with being thought of as normal. Most of those whom I do not wish to be open with, believe that I am. I ,however, have no idea what normal is like. I just am really good at playing the role. I am good at mimicking normal. It is a charade game and I am a master at it. The issue is that I know that I am faking it. I know that I am not normal. I know that I am sick. It is getting others to understand or accept that fact that is the problem. Some don't want to, some can't seem to understand, some just don't want the responsibility of knowing.
I identify more with the mental illness community. Here I put down my weapons of protection. I can let my mask fall to the ground. I can fall to my knees in the dirt and rest. I can be just me. The real me. The me that suffers. The real me that hurts and agonizes. The real me that is sick. The real me that is open and honest. I live on the double edge sword, as many of us do, hoping and praying that I don't teeter too far off course lest I be sawed in half. Lest the labels tear me apart.
The truth is, I am sick. I have mental illness. My mental illness is just as serious as any other mental illness. It does not matter what other's perceive about my illness. It does not matter that many are ignorant on the subject of OCD. It changes nothing. It does not change the issues I deal with. It does not change the pain and intrusive thoughts and images I suffer. It does not affect the way OCD affects me and my life. It is real, and painful, and devastating. Period. I do not need confirmation of others to know this.
The truth is that although I have mental illness, it does not make me too sick. What on earth is too sick anyway? No one is too sick to receive help, to try to get better, to try live the life they want. Saying too sick is a neat and tidy way of discouraging others from help or dismissing other's issues and problems. It's a way of throwing your hands in the air and saying, "I give up this is too hard." Life is hard, what we do between the date of our birth and the date of our death on our tombstones is what defines us. It is what we have accomplished or failed at. It is what we have chosen to represent our lives. Nothing is too hard and no one is too sick. We all deserve a chance to be validated and heard. All of us. Period.
I have labels. Maybe not all of them I am comfortable with, but I have been painted with them none the less. I choose my own labels. I choose only the labels I identify with. I choose the label sick. I have mental illness and I am sick. Not too sick and never not sick enough. I am in the void. I am in between. I am just sick enough. Sick enough to get help, to speak out, to fight to be heard, to live my life the way I choose and not be told that I am either lacking or have too much of something I never asked for in the first place.
If you have to have things neat and tidy then by all means label me. If it makes you feel more comfortable or sleep better at night then go ahead. Just remember that if I have to be labeled then so do you and what label do you think you would fall under? Is that how you really want to be perceived? Not as a person but as a word, a name, a set of preconceived notions? Labels are great for keeping kitchen utensils organized not people. We are too complex to be identified by one word. But if you must label me then label me under undefined, because I am not anything and yet everything at the same time. Because I am sick but neither too sick or not sick enough. Because I am an OCD sufferer but not the kind you see in the media. Because I am complicated, and strange, and broken in places but healing. Because I am loyal, and kind, and perfectly fine not fitting into every group but at the same time fitting into all of them. It's really your choice, and I am no longer willing to play pretend anymore.This is me, labels or not. Ill or not. Charades is not my favorite game and I am thinking about taking up knitting instead........