*Warning: Language Advisory*
Though I have the mouth of a sailor in real life, I seldom curse here. This is different. If you’re offended by four letter words, best skip it. But honestly? Sometimes you just need to let loose and talk about how you really feel. When it comes to this? I have strong feelings.
An Open Letter to OCD
Dear Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder,
We’ve had a long relationship, you and I. You came into my life before I was old enough to understand what you were, and you’ve been here ever since. I’m not sure who told you that you were allowed to pitch a tent in my head and camp out, but you did it.
Even if I cut you some slack and say that you didn’t exist before my earliest memory of you, that still leaves eighteen years that you’ve been a recurrent uninvited guest in my life.
And apparently, you aren’t ever going away.
That means that we have about seventy more years, if I’m being optimistic, to spend with one another. And seventy years is a long time for two beings to exist in the same space without being completely honest with one another. Complete honesty is important in any relationship, don’t you think?
Wait… you don’t think that. You spend every day lying to me and planting thoughts and images in my head that aren’t true. You don’t value honesty. Manipulation is your game. I forgot. See, I don’t play that way. So regardless of how YOU prefer to handle things, I think it’s time for a little come-to-Jesus discussion between the two of us. It’s high time that I told you what I really think.
I think you suck.
In the words of my best friend, you suck big, hairy donkey balls. And you blow goats. And as far as I’m concerned, you can go to hell in a hand basket while fucking yourself.
There, I said it. Now don’t you feel better, knowing how I really feel?
But I’m not quite done.
What you do to me is bad enough. You come into my life and bring your friends… your panic attacks and your depression and your sensory processing disorder. You do your damnedest to render me non-functional. You have, at times, succeeded. I’ll give you that. You took years from me – my teenage years, when I was 15, 16, 17… afraid of my own shadow because the pictures you put in my head were terrifying and I had no idea what they were. I curled up on my bed and cried, consumed with terror. You made me hide in the corner and want to suck my thumb. You made me feel alone and crazy.
Oh, you were a sneaky bastard. Did you think I wouldn’t figure it out, eventually? Did you think I’d just accept it? That I’d spend the rest of my life as your pawn, ordering magazines and vacuuming in straight lines to prevent car crashes and unknown disasters?
I suppose you did. I did too, for a long time. You robbed me of so much joy. You made me afraid of people. You made me afraid of myself. You sat back and watched, while I scrubbed the skin off my hands. You told me I’d get sick. You told me that if I just kept scrubbing, I’d feel better.
You tried to rob me of my faith. You made me afraid of church, planting images of armageddon in my mind and telling me that I needed to ritualize every time I committed a perceived sin.
You robbed me of my friendships. At least, of some of them. But you know, I have to thank you for that one. Because I learned, along the way, which of my friends would stick by me, even when I was losing my mind. Now, the friends I have are the ones worth keeping. So those friends you took? You can keep them. I don’t need them anyway.
You try to rob me of my education. You force me to check my papers and make me sick with anxiety over exams. You make it hell for me to learn, as I have to re-read sentences. You send me panic attacks in the middle of class. You embarrass me, as you make me repeat words over and over again. But I suppose, at least, that helps me learn Russian better. There’s that.
Still, you’re nothing but a fucking thief.
And while all of that is horrible, the pain and suffering you put me through, what’s worse is what I’ve seen you do to those I support.
Did you know that? I suppose you must. You see me every day, and I see them. I’m not the kind to just lie down and take your bullshit. I’m an advocate. All those other people you visit? We’re fighting you. But it’s hard as hell, and I’ve watched you do things to do them that make me feel helpless.
I’ve watched you steal their dreams. I’ve watched you steal the little moments from them, making parenthood into a nightmare because you tell them they might hurt their children. Making home ownership a trial because you tell them they can’t throw anything away. You take their money, as they pay for storage facilities to house the boxes you tell them they HAVE to keep. As they pay for the medications and treatment and doctor bills. You cackle with joy every time a medication doesn’t work. Their desperation – my desperation – to find relief feeds you. And each time a treatment option fails, you get a little stronger hold.
I’ve watched you zap their relationships with their friends and families – these people I care about. You tell them to isolate. You tell them it’s just safer that way. You try to take their lives…
You know, I watched you very nearly succeed in killing someone I love. At making a life that was so miserable, so filled with fear and dread and pain and pictures that wouldn’t go away, that he wasn’t sure if he wanted to keep living that life at all. And for that alone, I would hate you, you cowardly son-of-a-bitch. You never show yourself, but you wield the power to destroy lives? To take people from us? To take someone I love from me?
I watched, helpless, as you destroyed the relationship I had with the first man I ever truly loved. As you ate away at me and at him, and planted doubt in our minds, and built a wall between us. You, OCD, succeeded in tearing apart a bond that was strong. You broke our connection. You stole my love from me, almost forever. You make me fucking sick. I don’t have enough words to describe the hatred that bubbles in my chest when I think of you and what you’ve tried to do.
But you didn’t really get it, you know. Oh, you killed the relationship. But you didn’t take my love for him. You didn’t take my capacity to love. You certainly didn’t kill me.
And for all that you’ve done, I’ve learned from you. How to be strong. How to be stubborn. How to keep fighting. You taught me these lessons, and I learned them the hard way. These lessons are the ones that saved me later, when other demons and monsters entered my life – some real, some made up in my own mind. You taught me how to survive.
You’ve made me meticulous. You’ve made me serious. And I’ve learned to use these things. That education you try to steal from me? I get it in spite of you. Because I’m damn good at what I do. Because the need you’ve programmed into my head to be good at everything I do prevailed over the fear that I might fail. And the fear of failure ensures that I work hard.
And of all the things you took and tried to take – you never managed to steal my hope. You buried it at times, you and your friends, under panic and depression. Under despair and terror. But you never took it from me. It’s still there. Along with my laughter and my capacity to find humor in even… in even you.
Everything you’ve done to me has made me stronger. Everything you’ve done to those I love has made me hate you enough to fight you with every ounce of that strength you so carefully built in me. And now, you filthy fucking obsessive-compulsive monster, I am stronger than you.
So come on. Give it your best. Show me terrible pictures. Make me feel like I need to cleanse and wash and ritualize and count. Give me your panic attacks that steal my breath and make my heart race. Show me dread. Try, you just try, to take something else from me. Because you know, you might be winning the battle right now, but I guaran-fucking-tee you – you won’t win this war.
I’ve decided that I’m not going to let you rule my life. And you know, once I get something in my mind… I can be just a little obsessive. I guess you wouldn’t know anything about that.