• jaedakotapoetry

you’re just crazy; a lie I let my OCD tell me

“It’s like you have two brains – a rational brain and an irrational brain. And they’re constantly fighting.”

Emilie Ford

Hi friends. Lately, I have been struggling a lot more with my OCD and wanted to talk a little bit more about it. If this is the first time you’re reading my posts, I often talk about different aspects of anxiety and OCD. Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) is a disorder that causes people to have these “obsessive thoughts” and the only way to get rid of them most times is to do a “compulsion”. It can be a very difficult disorder to work through. I also believe this is a disorder that is very difficult to comprehend, even if you have it yourself. Even though I have had it for 10 years at this point, I still have struggled with understanding it and because of that, I have never fully accepted that I have it. I thought that because I “knew” I had OCD, that meant I “accepted” it, but I found out lately that “knowing” and “accepting” are not two in the same.

I was discussing with my therapist not long ago about my OCD and how I still struggle with it, and I didn’t understand why, and she said something like, “well, have you accepted that you have it?” And it took me aback. I said, “I know I have it, but I guess I don’t know why accepting it is so hard for me.” Trying to understand why accepting it was so difficult became one of my last homework assignments. And boy, that was a harder exercise than any math homework I used to do in school.

Eventually after talking it through a lot more with her (and I have to talk out loud or write about it because I am an external processor) I started realizing that it had to do with understanding the diagnosis. For example, I talked to her about how I was able to explain anxiety to someone, because everyone at some point in their life experiences a form of it whether it’s being nervous before a presentation or having a panic attack. So it’s a disorder that’s more relatable, per say. But OCD is not something everyone experiences. Hence, it is not easy to explain to others. I guess with my OCD, I know I have it. Logically, I know this. But because I couldn’t explain it to people, it almost felt like it didn’t make sense to myself, and because of it, at times I felt like I was truly crazy. Having intrusive thoughts that I didn’t want, ricocheting in my mind a lot of times. It was something I didn’t want to accept or believe I had. But at the same time, I knew my ticket to getting through this barrier I keep hitting with my OCD, was to just to accept it.

When I spoke further on this with my therapist, I went on to explain that when someone has Parkinson’s, there is a medical test they can do to prove someone has it. Like physical proof. And with OCD, you can’t have that. They diagnosis it based on symptoms, but not on an actual medical test. And that’s where it was hard for me to understand it because I have to make sense of things and OCD just didn’t make sense since I couldn’t see the proof, I could only feel it. I decided that in order to accept it, I needed to understand how it works in our brains. I needed to understand the pathophysiology of it, such as how it develops and how it affects our brain. I decided to look up scientific articles from psychologists to help me comprehend it. What I found actually helped me a lot and I wanted to share it in case others are like me and need to understand the diagnosis or maybe a family member wants to understand more about their loved ones.

This diagram I found shows the difference between a “normal” brain and an “OCD” brain. As you can see from the diagram, some parts of the brain are not functioning the way they should be and because of it, we get more “false wrong feelings” or “anxious thoughts” and have more behaviors that we have a hard time controlling. I read this article that explained what it’s like for someone with OCD.

It’s like their foot is on the brake telling them to stop, but the brake isn’t attached to the part of the wheel that can actually stop them.”

– Kate Fitzgerald, U-M Psychiatry Faculty Member.

Honestly, it made me feel so much better seeing this and learning more about the physiology behind OCD. Obviously, everyone’s OCD is different, but this gives a good guideline into what could be happening. And even just having this guideline help me understand that OCD is very real, which helped me make sense of it. It’s something I am able to finally accept that I have.

It seems like such an easy thing to accept, but not to everyone, so be patient with those who have a hard time with it. I mean, it’s taken me 10 years just to be able to say, “I have OCD and it’s okay”, instead of lying to myself and telling myself I was just crazy.

I keep feeling like this is a phase

like a wave that will pass on by with the sea

but I need to quit thrashing against the currents

and just float along with the ocean instead

how freeing to choose to float instead of letting yourself drown

For anyone out there who struggles with OCD, or honestly any kind of mental health disorder, and accepting that you have it, please know you are not alone and that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. I went way too many years trying to pretend that it was something to be embarrassed about or that it was just a phase I could fight and it would eventually go away. But let me tell you, it's such a freeing feeling know it’s just something to live with versus something you need to constantly be battling. Stay strong my friends and thank you for continuing on this journey with me.

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