I deliberated over making this blog public, as it were, for a long time. On the whole, I had decided it was better and less selfish to keep quiet and have the people in my life think I was pretty much OK. I don’t want to worry anybody. I don’t want to freak them out. I don’t want them to back away from me and hide the scissors. But I can’t do it any more. I can’t stumble along with my only outlet the occasional desperate late-night Facebook plea that I delete the next morning. After yet another Saturday lost to soul-destroying self-sabotage, I have decided to pop the balloon, tear down the facade and tell the truth in the hope that honesty will lead to healing.
This probably all sounds hopelessly dramatic. I wish I could be stoic and soldier the burden alone but evidently I cannot. Mental ill-health is real, it’s a “thing”, and I suffer from it. And I need to talk about it.
I have OCD. It is a type characterised by intrusive distressing thoughts. They call it the doubting disease. The thoughts came on in force one night when I was 22. As my friend slept in her bed, I lay on a mattress on her floor and had a panic attack. I ran out into the street. Turns out, though, you can’t run away from your own brain.
I’m not going to go into what my OCD makes me believe. I’m not ready for that. Not here, under my own name. It is too ugly and exposing and I am still ashamed, despite the thousands of dollars’ worth of therapy I have had. But I’ll just say it is not good. My condition is my Boggart. It is a hydra, constantly sprouting new heads with which to torment me. The heads know just what to say. My condition makes me hate myself. It makes me doubt whether I love or care about anything. It tells me I am bad and I know that is not true but I believe it. I don’t know how that’s possible, but it is.
The thoughts have cast a shadow on my life. For a long, long time, I’ve felt like a bewildered toddler, or Marty in the wrong 1985. “What is this? This was never meant to happen to me!”
I have raged in black oceans. I have been so angry. I’m still angry. It’s not mature or enlightened of me but I have had countless massive, epic, damaging tantrums on the inside, year after year after year. I am not a violent person so all this rage is contained; it washes and churns like waves behind my sad eyes. Again and again I have turned my sword upon myself, usually through food. “What are these thoughts? What are they? What kind of person would have them? How can I love and care for that person? I don’t like it. Kill it. Kill it!”
For the past five or so years, I have dealt with my pain by binge-eating. I have binge eaten in America. I have binge eaten in Australia. I have binge eaten in Paris, Edinburgh and London. I could write a book: Postcards from the Binge. My eating disorder is a formidable opponent. It its terribleness it is perfect, and I cower at its feet. I offer up sacrifices in an effort to appease it. I do what it wants. But my eating therapist would say that I already have all the tools I need to dismantle it. And she would be right. I don’t need to look elsewhere for the answers; in my heart of hearts, I know I already have them. I just have to be brave enough to use them. Telling the truth about my situation is a start.
Obviously my life is not all bad, and thank bloody God for that. I am still here and I am grateful. I am so grateful. I am so fortunate. I have wonderful people who love me. I have things to be proud of and things to look forward to. There is so much beauty in my life and so much more I want to do; that’s why I am still here. Despite it all, I am still here.
I get it now. I have no time machine. I can’t erase the past. Instead, I have to turn the wrong 1985 into the right one.