Day 2: How do you feel about your diagnosis?
I have a love/hate relationship with it.
I hate it because it would have been so nice to hear my therapist say, “Oh, you’re just using these actions and thoughts to deal with other stuff, and once we deal with that, you’ll never need these actions and thoughts again.” But instead, I have something I will spend my whole life fighting. Some days, I just don’t have the energy. Some days, I wish it would all go away.
But I love it because I know that I’m not alone, that it really is something I can’t help having but can fight, that I can help others understand it. Until I started therapy, I had no idea that many of my struggles were OCD. I knew contamination was OCD (thanks to the media, even though the media sometimes gets it wrong). But I never knew perfectionism was part of OCD and therefore something I could work on. I just thought it was normal for anyone who is successful in this world. I assumed you had to be killing yourself at work to have any measure of success. I assumed unhappiness and nervous breakdowns were just part of the package. But they’re not. Balance is possible. There are people who are incredibly successful who don’t worry half as much as I do on a good day. I’m glad to know this now because of my diagnosis.
I also love knowing about OCD because it has helped me understand some of my great-grandmother’s behaviors when I was a child. She helped raise me, and I now suspect she suffered from OCD. She worried about things that I even knew at the time were irrational, but to her, they were normal and fact. Understanding her has helped me realize how important it is for me to educate others, so we can create a world where OCD doesn’t own us.
I feel angry at the depression diagnosis, even though I know it’s been true. Even though I talk about how important it is to reduce the stigma, I’ll admit that sometimes the stigma about depression creeps into my mind and tells me I should be better at sucking it up. A lot of people have told me how strong I am when I’ve been in the throes of depression, and I get angry at myself because I feel so weak and vulnerable when I’m supposed to be strong. I have to remind myself that they say I am strong because I am fighting. Strong doesn’t mean letting nothing get to you. It means that you keep fighting, even when you can barely put one foot in front of the other.
I feel unsure about the possible PTSD diagnosis. I’ve always heard about it in relation to soldiers, and I keep thinking that what I have been through can’t compare to that. But then again, I just don’t hear much, if anything, about it outside of war and soldiers. Maybe it really is something I have. I don’t really understand PTSD, and right now, I’m more focused on getting a handle on my OCD than anything else. The stigma also affects this one for me; I keep thinking that if I actually do find out I suffer from it I shouldn’t tell people because it could seem like I am comparing my pain to the pain of soldiers. And I’m totally not. This whole area of my diagnosis is just one big confusing blur.
Anxiety disorder totally makes sense for me. It feeds into OCD. I’ve always struggled with intense amounts of anxiety. But through relaxation and stress reduction techniques, I’m learning how to stay more calm and level.