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My Letter to the OCD I Face Every Day

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Dear obsessive-compulsive disorder,

Otherwise known as OCD.

I guess that’s your nickname. It’s a little too short, too simple, for the complex way you’ve taken over my life over the years. Please forward this letter on to your buddies, Social Anxiety, Depression and Isolation, for they’ve had their say too.

I know I could aim a lot of negativity in your direction. Why, when my high school mates were off making friends and partying, was I obsessed with whether I smelled badly and found my only relief in staying at home, dreading another school morning? Why, for the past 20 years, have I been tormented with the idea of smiling or blinking or drooling in a way that would make me appear odd to others?

Ironically, the only relief I find from my phobia of rejection is to reject the company of others. Well, I say “only,” but you’ve also given me your own weird and wonderful ways of feeling better, your Compulsions, which I believe is your middle name. Bizarre associations with numbers — you told me to avoid some of them so I did. Actions I have to repeat until the “bad” thought is neutralized. Fear of certain letters so I avoid looking at them, or at least try to. You try avoiding letters in this day and age; they’re everywhere! The strange thing is knowing these are ridiculous solutions but turning to them all the same, because we all just want to feel better. When I do them, I feel less tormented, but they’re reassuring in the way that narrowly avoiding plummeting off a cliff and turning to find there’s a tiger behind you, is reassuring. There’s always another fear just round the corner. It feels like you’re laughing at these times.

But hey, it’s not all bad. You’ve given me a compassion for others and their own unique struggles, an open mind and a belief that no book should be judged by its cover. I’ve been amazed to tell people this story and not been witness to a human-shaped hole in the nearest wall. People can be kind. I’m still fearful of telling people, but I know it’s not usually as bad as I think it’s going to be.

If I write this letter to you then maybe others like me will read it and feel reassured they’re not alone and don’t have to let you kick their ass and drag you down. There is Hope to counter the Depression and Courage to fight the Anxiety.

It’s like a twisted game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

Originally published: March 7, 2016
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