The Storm of Having Both OCD and Anxiety
I am not exactly sure when they fully collided. But, I will never forget the influx of feelings that flooded in as a result. The gasping for breath. Holding onto anything in sight. Ashamed to put my head up. Constantly caught in a whirlpool of turmoil/uneasiness and rancor.
They had both been “present” for as long as I can remember. Since very early in my life.
The anxiety? Started at a very young age. Most likely following the death of my younger brother, shortly after turning 4 years old. I was a very quiet child for the most part. I “inhaled” life. And kept it all inside. I didn’t like to talk about the constant movie reel of worries traveling through my mind. Probably, because they kept me busy enough as it was.
The OCD? It followed. I just didn’t truly know what this lurking shadow really was. Before I realized it, it started to trail me e.v.e.r.y.w.h.e.r.e. Taking full control of my vulnerable thoughts. Putting me on repeat. Asking me taunting questions, over and over and over again. Just to push me over the edge. Like ringing the doorbell into my mind. A nonstop game of “Ding-Dong-Ditch.” Running away each time, before I could catch this beast in the act. Just so I would “be sure” I didn’t miss anything. That I did it the correct way. That nothing bad would come from it all, if something was out of place. Or that I didn’t forget to check the lock on my bedroom window, just one. more. time.
The two together quickly created a super-cell of sorts. A monstrous, never-ending storm, taking complete control of my mind. Sometimes, fighting one another. And other times, working together, hand-in-hand. In tandem. The most powerful and damaging combination possible.
And I found myself completely lost.
Working double-overtime to keep it all a “secret”.
So no one would think I was “crazy”.
Because, from the outside, you would most likely never know
These two monsters were stirring up a tenacious cyclone of epic proportions.
Controlling my every thought.
My every “move.”
Anytime I tried to free myself “in the moment.”
First, the unexpected straight-line-wind jabs of my OCD.
“Did you check the door locks? I am pretty sure you didn’t. You might want to go back and double-check one more time.”
Then, the overwhelming downpour of my anxiety.
“Because if you don’t go back and check, someone could get into your house. Something might happen to your family. Who cares if you are late? Go. back. and. check. now. or. something. bad. is. going. to. happen.”
I try to put up my umbrella.
Hunker down. And trudge through.
But it’s no use.
Because it. just. won’t. stop.
They were, and still are, feeding one other. Like two bandits in the night. Whirling these indomitable thoughts around and around and around, in the closed-quarters of my mind. Pelting me with a volatile mix of fear and distress.
OCD: “I know you just washed your hands, but I don’t think you got everything off of them. You might want to go back and wash them again. Just to be sure.”
Anxiety: “You don’t want your sweet baby girl to get sick, do you? What a bad mother you would be! What would everyone think?”
OCD: “Did you make sure the baby didn’t pull the blanket over her face? I know you might wake her up, but you need to go check again.”
Anxiety: “What if she did pull it over her face? What if she is not breathing? It would be all my fault!”
OCD: “You sent her a message days ago, and she never responded. Maybe you should text her again to make sure she got it.”
Anxiety: “I bet she’s mad at you. What did you say last time you were together? Did you offend her? Does she even want to be friends any longer?”
Doing anything and everything imaginable to get this squall under some kind of control.
Pushing through the panic attacks.
The battling voices.
Finding the nearest shelter.
Within my comfort zone.
Until the typhoon passes.
Grasping for even just a few moments of tranquility.
Until it all begins once again.
Sometimes, it’s merely a gentle rain.
A few drops drizzling through my day.
But other times, a full-on monsoon.
Completely drowning with panic and worry.
And weathering this storm? All completely enclosed within the chambers of my very own mind? Totally and utterly exhausting.
Those same gale-force-wind “thoughts?” Naturally, they encourage me as well. Not to tell anyone. That this is “our little secret.” Leading me to believe I will always need the one (OCD) to out-power the other (anxiety). So, I naively fell into the inescapable trap of thinking I could out-power this super-cell. By pitting one against the other.
So, I tried.
And I failed.
You guessed it.
Fell. flat. on. my. face.
It is always…two steps forward, one step back. Or, many times, the opposite.
My life-vest was tattered. My life-lines were now only a mirage. And I felt the only next “logical” move was to completely surrender.
These thoughts? These nagging, on-going gales? Well, they were just meant to be part of my life. A part of me. That very, very few people knew about.
But, you see, there is only one problem. These storms…these thunderous, tempest thoughts? These moments of utter turbulence and feeling at complete-mercy to my own. mind? Well, they don’t just affect me.
And that? That really and truly is the irony of it all. That such an incredibly powerful and manipulative constant, closed-track rotation inside of my. very. own. mind…can influence so. very. many. other. parts. of my life, outside of (the closed glass box surrounding) my private mentality.
Although my battle is nowhere near over, and I have come to realize this will be something I will most likely push through for the entirety of my life…I am quickly learning the tricks. The mind-games. Of this oppressing torrent. The way one part of this super-cell powers another.
And I am pushing back.
With my raincoat in hand.
And boots on my feet.
Working to create my very own, personal “emergency response kit,” one day at a time.