Tomorrow, I promise to post all about the event we held this weekend. The one I was so worried about – suffice to say, it went over extremely well.
Tonight, I have to spend a little time talking about one of its after effects though, because honestly, it blows my mind.
Last week was OCD Awareness Week. It’s why we had our mini-conference when we did. And it’s something that, for obvious reasons, I paid pretty close attention to this year. I’m willing to bet that most people didn’t have a clue. This probably should have pissed me off, but mostly, it just drove me to put on a really great event and to DO something about the lack of knowledge that was out there.
I always thought that I was super out of the OCD closet. And, in the context of how I live with it today, I am. But this weekend, Kelly attended the mini-conference we held and sat in on the support group for “relationships.” It was the perfect place for her, because God knows she spends enough time being a support person – I knew she could provide some insight to the people there. While in her group, she had the opportunity to hear some parents speak. And this made her curious. What was my story? All the bits and pieces that I didn’t talk about?
When she said she wanted to do a blog on OCD, what I had in mind was that she would be writing about her experiences. Instead, she asked me about mine. And because I learned long ago that resistance is futile, I started to write. Bits and pieces. Things that I remembered from childhood. Things that I didn’t directly remember, but had seen in videos. Things that I wished people had done, and things that I wished they hadn’t.
When I was all done, I had 11 pages. 5200 words of what I would have deemed “whining.” See… in my 11 pages, I had violated several of my cardinal rules of thumb.
1. You don’t publicly speak ill of your family.
2. You don’t force people to read about your problems.
3. You most certainly don’t share with the world all of your most embarrassing rituals and compulsions.
Apparently, I wasn’t REALLY as out as I thought I was. But once I started writing for Kelly, I couldn’t stop writing. I couldn’t stop talking about all of the funny things I’d done when I was younger. I started remembering things that I hadn’t thought of in years. Some of it made me laugh. Checking the freezer for my dead parents? Admittedly, in retrospect, pretty funny. Some of it made me shake my head and go… wow…well THAT makes sense. I had never really considered that my three-year-old self got angry with daddy when he messed up song lyrics because I had OCD. But that one we have on film. It’s a running joke in our family now, and it always makes me giggle. But it makes me think too.
Some of it was hard to write. The summer I was 16 was hell. Reliving it wasn’t something that I had intended to do when I sat down to blog yesterday. But there it came, spilling out like water from a floodgate.
And then there was the whole “Dear God, what if my parents see this,” moment. I won’t lie. I’m still afraid they might. And I still feel a little guilty for representing them poorly. I certainly didn’t mean to. I didn’t talk to them, so they couldn’t have really known. More than that, my father lives with Schizophrenia and PTSD. His own mental illnesses are enough to keep anyone busy for a lifetime, and I don’t envy him them.
And they were – and are – good parents. Mixed in with the bad memories are some great ones, of cooking breakfast, pancakes in bed, sledding in the winter, and Carolina basketball.
I guess what I’m saying is that I don’t want anyone to have the wrong impression. I just want the impression they have to be honest. And unfortunately for all of us, that includes some less than stellar moments of yelling and screaming and feeling frustrated and misunderstood.
But then, it’s entirely possible that I’m obsessing.
I sent my 5200 words to Kelly, who proclaimed that she was posting them all. “It’s too important,” she said. I’m not sure what went on in that meeting, but we must have made an impression. And I’m so glad that we did, because she’s right. It IS important. It’s important to me. To everyone living with OCD.
In the past 24 hours, the blog has received more hits than I can think of. It blows my mind that people want to read my story. Other friends are posting on fb about it. That baffles me too. I just never imagined that anyone would be all that interested.
But the comments have made it all worth it. And I’m glad that I gave it to her to post – and grateful to her for making it a big deal. I spend most of my life trying to act like OCD isn’t the driving force behind me. I want to be an advocate for it, but I never want people to think that I use it as an excuse to be less or not try as hard. I don’t want people to see my accommodations and think that I’m milking the system. So I make it not a big deal. As not a big deal as possible. And while I never want it to be the thing that defines me, I’m glad that occasionally, someone realizes it is a big deal.
I’ve said it before: I always feel guilty when I talk about this. I always wondered who would care? Who would really want to hear? But I am reminded today that talking about things makes them less scary and less stigmatized. So I’ll talk. And I’ll keep talking.
But it really does blow my mind that anyone wants to hear what I have to say.
So, for the curious… for those who haven’t read it already, here is what I wrote for Kelly: My Story