This one is an open letter to everyone around someone that has (I never use the word “suffers”, because I’m so against it, we have the disorder, we don’t suffer from it) OCD!
My name is Angelina. And I have OCD. Untreated for almost a decade, diagnosed for almost two years now. OCD is an anxiety disorder, I had so much anxiety that my brain had to find a way to cope with it. And it did, in the form of obsessions and compulsions. “Do that, count four times, what could go wrong in every way (a list), you must check everything before going to sleep, etc, etc” are some of the things my mind “tells” me. It’s basically a never ending trail of thoughts. Sometimes it feels like a continuous background fuzz/noise inside my mind.
But, I’ve managed to be high functioning. I wouldn’t have it any other way! I want to do the things I want to do and no disorder can get in my way. Plus, it was a survival mechanism when I had do go through hard times, I couldn’t let myself drown inside my brain, no way!
I have OCD, I live with quite high levels of anxiety each single day. And in the same time I make art, I have friends, family, I work (part time), I do many things daily. I have reached a point where I have become friends with my OCD. It’s not my enemy anymore. I respect it and kind of respects me back. We’re working together. For example, after a full week of too much anxiety, this morning we’re just chilling. Trying to relax my body (that hurts all over from the tension created by the anxiety) and trying to have some relaxing time doing things I love.
One more thing to set straight: I am not broken. I just live with much more anxiety than other people. And I go through daily life with it. It’s funny, because having to deal with so high levels of anxiety, I have used and developed so many methods to control and go through it, that many times I end up being the most calm person in the room when everybody else freaks out. If you need tips about dealing with anxiety, I’m your girl!
Let me show you a piece of every day life with OCD. Living with it is about constant decisions. Each day I wake up and choose to live with it in the best way possible, and don’t let it get in my way too much! Anxiety gets more intense and tiring for me, than for someone that gets anxious about a certain situation. Many times this can leave me with no energy at all. In case you try to improve yourself and and you really work with it (like I do), this can even leave you drained (physically and emotionally). But in the same time, even at these moments I am so proud of myself for dealing and making the most of it!
And there are the positive aspects of OCD. For example, since I practice many forms of art, it’s helpful to be able to “put them in boxes” and tell them apart when needed.
So, this letter took a bit too long. A few (or maybe more) last words! Being anxious sometimes and having an anxiety disorder are two totally different things (by the way, when someone tells you that they have anxiety or an anxiety disorder, just accept it people, to reach a point to casually talking about it means that you have been (or going) through your journey, a journey that officially started when you were diagnosed by a psychiatrist). No, this doesn’t make me (or any other person that is diagnosed with anxiety) mad, or crazy, or broken! It’s the way that my mind works and “translates” the world. OCD is just an aspect of my life. It’s not who I am.
Have a great day and give yourself and your mind a little break through it!