I feel like this blog is turning into a bit of a midnight musings type thing recently, so grab a cup of your favourite warm tea, wrap up in a blanket and scroll with me as I share another story from my life. Perhaps a bit sad, but still quite hopeful. I promise it’s worth a read of you’re looking for something or someone to relate to.
About a year ago, I wrote a blog post sharing my experience having a mental health issue. I spoke a bit about how I had a terrible OCD outburst and how I went about it. Today’s post is a less representative post (or perhaps more, who knows?) so please don’t take any of this as science or anything to look up to. I had the urge to make my blog a lot more personal and fall into a form of healing catharsis while talking about what I feel like OCD took away from me. I was inspired by a tweet from @FoxInTheBox05, which I feel like I coudl relate to. It listed the things their depression took away.
My OCD… it took away a lot.
It took away so much of who I was and for so long. I’m sure that you may feel it too, even if you’ve had a mild mental health issue. That feeling of lost time that you will never get back, and for me, a certain aim in life that I try to avoid regretting. I sit in my workshops sometimes and wonder what I’m doing at a commercial university with BBA* grades. Was it because I was too afraid to venture out of my town to go somewhere better? Was I really too afraid that if I did philosophy or theology- a long standing reading passion of mine, I would be left without any job prospects? I think so. OCD made me think I was a failure, and that I had to stay put. That I couldn’t possibly cope far away from home, and that my grades were a failure anyway. That’s why I chose the degree that I now have. At least creative writing had something to offer to employers, and it bought all my interests together.
This is going to sound weird coming from a 22 year old, but I feel like I’ve wasted so much of my potential. -What the hell!- I hear you screaming, but you’ve got your whole life ahead of you and people change careers half way through their lives. They do, but the problem I had, once I’d realised that it was OCD who kept me from aiming higher, was money. I didn’t tell anyone, and I mean anyone, that I was seriously considering applying to Durham University to do a Philosophy post-grad. I couldn’t though, because there was no way I was going to have enough money to both pay for the course AND life, especially so far away from home. I kinda feel like I’m drifting with what I’ve got at the moment, and that my opportunities are seriously cutting down as I get older.
I do blame OCD for taking away a lot of my friendships. The close and the possible ones. It made me stare at the door handle in fear, when I moved to university, stopping me from going into the kitchen when other people were there. It made me pace my room up and down whenever there were parties going on next door or downstairs. It’s not that I was socially inept, I have always been a social person, or have I? I’ve said this before – it’s been bullied out of me, as I’m sure it had been out of many children as they went through the magical ages between 13 and 16. I was never able to fully recover from the dread of being an outcast, and with OCD topping that, I just decided that it’s easier not to try. I was in a really bad state then.
When people meet me now, they say “you’ve changed” but the truth is that I haven’t – I’ve become myself again. I look back at who I was growing up and I can see the toxicity of OCD and how it affected my day to day life. I feel like it didn’t just take away my degree, but also my in a-levels. The final year I spent in sixth form was dreadful; it was filled with months of lack of sleep and constant anxiety. If you have experienced anxiety (the disorder) in your life before, you know just how exhausted it can leave you. I was forced to fight for my a-levels on top of that.
Now I said this was going to be quite a cathartic post for me, so please don’t think I am just moaning about how bad my life is and how much better it could be- now. I am trying to share my story because I know that a scarily large amount of people will relate. I want to ask you a question now that you can answer in the comments. Tell me, have you felt like any mental health issues have taken things irreversibly from you? Did you deal with this, and if so how? Lets help each other out in the comments.
Perhaps, people think I’ve changed because I used to run to religion as a source of safety and comfort, and to oppose that I had a stage of colourful hair. I don’t really know how the two oppose each other (at least in my min), unless we’re talking on very shallow and insular terms. But yeah, I managed to slowly come out of the box after therapy, and slowly rebuilding all the walls- the good defense systems- and stand up for myself.
This was also the time when I learnt what true self care was. It wasn’t about face masks and taking annoying long baths whilst trying not to get a book – or worse- an e reader wet. Self care was about saying no. Self care was about admitting that you feel hurt, you feel envious, you feel unappreciated and distanced from others on purpose. Self care is being able to rise above what others may say and go “no- that’s not my fault,” and refusing to explain yourself or justify your existence. It’s about knowing and feeling that you are enough.
I feel like the whole of my OCD stemmed from lack of this form of self care, but how could I have known better? I was eighteen when it hit me, and all I had wanted to do up to that point was satisfy everybody else and their ideas for me. In this sense, I am glad OCD took this away from me. I’m grateful that OCD took away my envy and my need to please everybody. I’m glad it took away all of the toxic so called “friends” I had. I am glad it had me delete Facebook, because I stayed good friends with people who truly cared about me and who I am. I was out of the race and as much as it made me worry about the silliest of things, it made me feel appreciated again and more importantly made me realise through therapy and self reflection, who these toxic thought patterns were caused by and where they originated.
As awful as mental illness is, I am grateful that I could overcome it and most importantly, grateful for the ability to move on and learn from it and oh boy did I learn a lot. I learnt to move on. I am unafraid to cut out now. I am unafraid to move on from those who try and live my life for me. I’m alright. I’m me now.
I’m writing this in hopes of making my own, more personal and more healing approach to blogmas. I will attempt to publish a post like this each day of December, at midnight.