I find my life settling into patterns. Chunks of time are grouped together as either “positive” or “negative” periods, as I weave in and out of an anxiety-induced delirium. Everytime I happen upon a “positive” period, I am utterly convinced that I am cured. This mindset ultimately makes the letdown of “relapse” a little bit harder to swallow, as I genuinely believed I overcame my OCD.
The fact of the matter is that my OCD never left. It was a bit quieter, yes. The perpetually revving engine in the back of my head didn’t overshadow every waking moment. And for these ephemeral washes of clarity, I am eternally grateful. However, just as I achieve a sense of comfort, it all comes crashing back with an unparalleled force. And I am catapulted into disarray, back in time, inhabiting “former” versions of Brianna; versions I believed I healed from.
But the wounds are fresh. And the only healing forces are time and perseverance, to slowly climb myself out of the same hole, again and again. It is quite tiring, to see my life trapped in these rigid cycles. The intrinsic desire to paint my life in patterns is a product of my OCD. Viewing my “healing process” as a circle provides structure and predictability to a distinctly unstructured and unpredictable process. In reality, recovery is like an ocean wave, with anomalous peaks and valleys and ambivalent directions.
I am constantly riding on a wave of unknowns - my OCD’s worst nightmare. I wake up every day with a knot in my stomach, unaware of how each moment will unfold. Will I be frozen by my anxiety? Will I be productive today? How do I avoid impending doom? I constantly teeter on the edge of “catastrophe,” as my mind prepares for another negative period. Because it’s always just around the corner. Waiting, patiently.
When I began therapy, I desired a silver bullet, to magically mend my deep seated issues. However, this aspiration is from reality. Most of the work in therapy takes place away from the therapist. And it’s hard work. The rewards are minimal, and painfully slow. Yet, I have noticed subtle areas of improvement, where I am capable of allowing thoughts to wash over my mind like a steady drizzle, rather than a torrential downpour. And these intermittent moments of success truly make all the perilous effort worth it.
As I attempt to “cure” my OCD, I must first accept that healing doesn’t equate to perfection. These mental challenges will pose a lifelong endeavor. At this moment, all I can do is optimize my quality of life, by fighting against these intrusive ruminations. Whether you suffer from OCD, or another mental illness, I understand your frustration. But I ask you not to give up hope, just yet. The road may be uncertain, the tides everchanging, but there still remains a chance for life. There is always still a chance for you.
Written by: Brianna Rauchman