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Why I’m Hopeful Tonight (Even After Days of OCD and Anxiety)

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I tend to use a lot of metaphors and clichés when describing my mental illnesses. Sometimes, doing that makes the tough feelings seem a little more tangible. When I look back on the past week, the image that first comes to mind is a roller coaster ride — one where you find yourself careening downward and you feel completely out of control. Sometimes, I would reach a peak, a moment of peace, but those never lasted very long. Soon, I would be hurtling at rapid speeds down the next hill. Through the whole ride, my obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and my anxiety were in charge.

In the past 72 hours, I’ve cried a lot. I’ve laid in bed and just stared into space, not knowing how to process all of the thoughts racing through my head. I’ve had full-fledged anxiety attacks at work, in my car, on the floor of a friend’s house and even in my very own bathtub. I’ve spent large amounts of time obsessing over intrusive thoughts that I once thought had no power over me anymore.

It’s been a rough week, culminating in a few pretty unbearable days and nights.

But tonight feels different. Because tonight I feel something else, something other than the fear and uncertainty that has plagued me constantly this week.

Tonight, I have hope.

In the past 72 hours, I have done some pretty tough things — things I was too overwhelmed during the past few days to celebrate and acknowledge. In the past 72 hours, I’ve admitted I was struggling — more than once. I’ve asked for help. I’ve expanded my support system. I’ve talked honestly with some of my friends. I’ve reconnected with my therapist.

I’ve gone to work, even when it felt impossibly hard. I’ve gone outside every day to enjoy the fresh air. I’ve taken walks with friends who have shown me compassion and understanding. I’ve spent some quality time on my yoga mat.

I am hopeful tonight because even though the past few days have been clouded by my OCD and anxiety, I’ve still found ways to push myself (and seek out the occasional gentle push from others) toward days where my anxiety and OCD don’t have all the power. I am hopeful tonight because I am accepting the fact that my progress is not linear. I know that this is just a tiny bump in a very long road, and I am starting to see the other side. I am hopeful tonight because I know that I have the support and skills I need to keep powering through.

I can do this.

I will be OK.

Tonight, I have hope.

Photo by Hatham on Unsplash

Originally published: October 1, 2020
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