For me, learning that I live with OCD and going through years of intensive therapy eventually granted me access to the deepest depths of my memory, recalling for the first time how some aspects of my OCD took form in my everyday practices. I access my memories as doors, and though many of the doors have been unlocked, I am still hesitant to open all of them. Some of the doors contain memories that I worked hard to suppress, for whatever reason, which is often why my OCD is used as a barrier to hide those memories from me.
Starting at the age of 15, I went through several years of scheduled therapy. One approach that all medical professionals suggested for me, as they often do with patients who live with OCD, was medication. The option to take medication has always felt to me like a decision about how I choose to exist in this world. If I’m on medication, I feel more “normal” and absent of a condition that my brain developed. Or I can go without medication and simply be who I am, which works as long as my OCD doesn’t become an impediment to healthy, functional living. For the most part, I’ve chosen the latter option. I still think about taking medication, though. Two of my closest friends are on daily meds to help regulate their lifestyles. It helps them, though I also see the adverse effects of that medication and the toll that it takes on their bodies. I often wonder if such sacrifices are absolutely necessary to have a shot at living normally, especially since their mental disorders are what made me initially love them. I understand that my decision to refrain from taking medication is a choice that may not be the same for all people living with a mental health disorder/condition. I support those who decide that medication is their best option, though I have chosen to live my truth aloud, as irrational and compulsive as it may be.
Living with a mental disorder does leave me feeling depleted some days – exhaustion that can last for days on end. On the outside I’ll seem okay, and I’ll even say that I’m okay to others. It’s a way of aiming to remove reproach from myself. But truth be told, I have never been “normal,” and that ain’t my OCD’s fault. It is often really hard to go with the flow of life when I am still discovering what my own flow looks, feels, and sounds like. My OCD is sourced from the same space as my creativity, and it compliments my creations well. Without OCD, I believe that I would be a lot less aware, less empathetic, and less intentional. Living with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is challenging, especially when it comes to being patient and reminding myself that the formation of my disorder was beyond my control, but the ways it manifests are up to me, if I give it time. I am a creator of many things – I make music, visual art, organic toothpaste, and other things, though my favorite thing to create is space for Love.
I love through my OCD, and it has aligned me with many of my passions. It’s given me the power to simply see people as they are, and access a reality that most people forget exists. The journeys of those who live with OCD are meaningful and hard. Some days are better than others, and are still worth it. My OCD has led me to discover patience for myself, which inevitably turns to patience for others, and for that I am most grateful. I see the world a lot differently with the eyes I’ve been given. Through numerical patterns and satisfying hand gestures, I create escape portals for myself and for others — an ability I’ve developed through living alongside my OCD.
Take a moment to check out my song, “OCD,” here.