themighty logo

My OCD Is a Dragon, but I Am Stronger

My obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) is like a dragon in a fairytale. The dragon is convinced its purpose is to protect me and to never allow me to come to harm. It keeps my happy, authentic, but vulnerable self locked high in a tower built from bricks of shame. I have grown up in this tower, calling its prison-like walls home since I was a little girl. It’s cold and isolated, but if nothing can get in and nothing can get out, at least that means I’m safe … right?

Seeking reassurance is the dragon’s sustenance. The only way it can be deterred is to starve it. When I resist feeding it, it comes to me in a hunger-fueled rage and threatens to eat me instead. Its ferocity causes me to panic and feel intense anxiety until I give into its demands.

Now that I am diagnosed, I’m learning to do things differently. I’ve realized I can defeat this dragon, and secure my freedom. Rather than throwing it food as I have always reflexively done as soon as it’s angered, I‘m learning to stare it right in the eyes when it screeches. Intimidated by my newfound bravery, it flies away for a while. The dragon always seems to come back eventually to try its luck again, and sometimes I relent. For now, I’m still locked in my tower … but every day I’m growing more empowered to escape.

It’s my hope for my recovery that soon, I’ll be braver than I am today. I’ll take the tools I have crafted in therapy, and scale down the outer wall of my tower. I’ll make my way down steadily and purposefully, every brick further a result of the knowledge I’ve gained. If the dragon’s violent flames are roaring over me, I’ll be shielded by my self-belief and inner strength.

When I reach the ground, the dragon will fade away into a mist that drifts away with the breeze. I will walk into the middle distance, look back at that tower and watch it crumble to the ground. I’ll breathe in the smell of wildflowers for the first time, and feel every blade of grass beneath my toes. I will journey on into the horizon, confident in the knowledge I don’t need a dragon or a tower to protect me — I can look after myself.

Getty image by Grandfailure