Sometimes people ask me how I handle my OCD and anxiety so well. My therapist said I was impressive, highly aware, and in tune with myself and my thoughts. Someone asked me if I was a therapist after the OCD support group I go to because “I was aware and had a knack for talking to people.”
I don’t say these things as a way of bragging because that is so far from the type of person that I am, but I tell you because it is something I have learned to value, use to my advantage, and inspire others to do on their journey. I am a very introspective person who, instead of saying “why me, I am so sick of this, why won’t it go away,” I said “why me, I am so sick of this, why won’t it go away AND WHY IS THIS HAPPENING?” I asked myself “where is this coming from?” Due to my interest in psychology and the brain, I knew that anxiety and anxiety disorders didn’t just pop out of no where but are sculpted and enhanced by certain life circumstances, occurrences, and one’s response to these events. I was determined to put the pieces together; I set out to learn what was going on, explore where it came from and how the disorder manifested itself, and what I needed to do to get better and lead the life I knew I could lead, and the one that others saw me leading.
I was not good at taking compliments (from high school’s jealous people being mean), I overthought most things, (OCD’s doubt strikes again) I became neutral and numb to certain feelings (depression), and I started to feel lost in life. However, this wasn’t who I knew I was, nor who I presented myself to be. I knew I was meant for something great. I knew I had a lot of love to give and wanted a loving relationship. I knew I was liked by others and received praise. I knew I was social and a good friend and had a good personality. Yet, I couldn’t figure out where the discrepancies came from, and I struggled to combine the desire to do something big and love someone and be my externally social and “chill” self, with the anxiety ridden tendencies and compulsive mental rituals that took up hours of my day, pulled me away from people that I loved, and caused me to overthink and become unhappy.
I was in an internal war with myself.
My sense of feeling worthy dissipated. I felt like a burden to people. I felt out of place. I turned inward, became depressed and shut off emotionally, and put a guard up. I didn’t know what was going on at the time, and once I did, I had to learn how to understand what it meant and come to terms with the diagnosis, live with it, and still find myself underneath the clutter and dust. Now, after losing a relationship and blaming myself (right or wrong), I have to find that higher purpose and strength to believe there is hope and I am worthy, deserving, and lovable no matter what I struggle with.
I have to try to move forward, knowing what will happen will happen. I am not a “me first” type person so I remind myself I deserve to keep working on me. There are still a lot of things to figure out and I am still battling the ups and downs of depression and OCD/anxiety. I now have tools to help, but I also still wonder “why?” whenever I notice something new and identify a new trigger. I think about it, I observe how I feel and what is going on around me. I try to make connections with what I already learned, I try to see different perspectives and angles to make the best assessment, and I journal about it to observe it more.
I believe through my struggles, who I have met, what I have learned through observation and my journey that I have been able to identify themes that arise no matter what personal struggles someone deals with. The themes are the same but the context varies from person to person. We support and unite through themes! I am able to help by listening, drawing out these themes, bringing people back to the potential root of the issue, and helping to move forward and become aware. I help them to see the patterns and encourage them to start to ask “why?” instead of feeling distress and stuck in a cycle. It causes more emotions, because you hit the core, but how do you think you get better? It gets worse before it gets better. Feel it, live it, understand it, and learn from it.
How did I become able to handle OCD and depression? Why do people notice the way I speak and how in-tune I am with myself? I am aware. I have let it rule me for so long. I have now let it ruin relationships. I have caused pain in family’s lives for years. I needed to figure it out. I needed to put the pieces together that I carried with me and poked their head out every so often. I needed to love myself and feel confident in me, letting other’s views of me and feelings carry less weight in how I viewed myself. I reached rock bottom. I had exhausted myself with mental strength and will power, and I needed to put myself first.
Put you first. Wonder “why?” Be aware!
PS This didn’t happen right away. I dealt with depression, anxiety, and OCD for over 10 years before getting help. Don’t wait 🙂 If I can help, please let me know!