The Burdens We Still Carry

On October 19th, 2017, I did something I never thought I would actually be able to do. Well, I did think I was going to eventually, but to be quite frank, I always knew in the back of my mind that it might just be a feat I would never conquer; but I did. I told people about my Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. My OCD was diagnosed the summer of the seventh grade, when I was going through quite the hard time (an understatement) with my sexuality, anxiety, and thoughts of committing suicide. It was a very dark and dangerous period of my life with which I felt I had no one to support me; and a time I try to block out of my mind as much as I possibly can.

I feel like the main reason why I never wanted a lot of people to know about my OCD might have something to do with the time I found out about it; but also because of how taboo it is. OCD is something you can never genuinely understand unless you have it, and boy do I hope you don’t. It’s kind of always joked about in many different forms; with threads showing pictures that “Will Drive Your OCD Nuts!,” or quizzes testing “How OCD Are You?!” These forms of media portray OCD as being somewhat of a characteristic, which it is not. You can’t act OCD, or feel OCD, seeing that it is literally a disorder.

The actual definition of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is “an anxiety disorder in which people have unwanted and repeated thoughts, feelings, images, and sensations (obsessions) and engage in behaviors or mental acts in response to these thoughts or obsessions.” My OCD takes form in both physical and mental ways. Physically, one of the most primary way my disorder takes shape is whenever I lift something off a surface. I know you’re probably very confused right now, but this is very real for me. Whenever I lift something like a book bag or a laptop off the floor or table, I always feel like some part of that object was left behind. I then proceed to, either with my hand or with my foot, rub the surface that my object was lifted off of. If I don’t do this step, my anxiety will increase, and it is nearly impossible for me to explain why this happens to me. Even me explaining this sounds outrageous to myself; but it’s true. Another way it reveals itself is if I’m walking down the cereal aisle at the grocery store; if I don’t touch every single cereal box in a particular row as I’m strolling past, I will once again, get that same inexplicable anxiety.

My physical forms are not the worst, however, my mental ones truly take the metaphorical cake. My mental forms of OCD comprise primarily of regrets or traumatic past experiences. Regrets are never something somebody wants to think about, yet most people have the ability to just push them to the back of their mind; but with OCD, those thoughts are pushed to the foreground of your mind. Regrets about kissing that one guy you didn’t really like, thinking about that one time in freshmen year that I was unnecessarily mean to my mom, or not taking AP Psychology when everybody else was. My traumatic experiences might consist of that one time I nearly got run over by a speeding car, when the love of my life un-jokingly called me a faggot, or having my cousin run into the room crying when she found out that our Tio Willie had just passed away.

These are all things that I can’t control or change. I can’t go back in time and change my sophomore year schedule, or stop myself from crossing the street, or get to know my uncle better before he died. But because this stupid imbalance in my brain has told me that it is my fault for not making better decisions at the time; I spiral into dark times of crying until late times of night, and psyching myself out about situations I can’t control. This causes me to stop doing the things I love to do, and makes me snap at the friends and family I love.

At the end of the day, I guess I will always understand that Obsessive Compulsive Disorder is chronic, and it will be a very long time until I find a way to get over it. I will continue to be the best me I can be from day to day, and try my hardest to be as positive as possible throughout the hardest times. But something about throwing the words “My Obsessive Compulsive Disorder” into a fiery pit of other hardships really did something for me. I felt brave, and powerful, and I knew that I would overcome this one day. But as Danny explained at the end of our session how our problems would eventually find a way of rolling back around in the end, I know that this will be a burden I will carry for the rest of my life, whether through memory or manifestation; and I guess that is actually somewhat comforting.

While OCD may be a thing I carry, it does not define me, and it will not stop me from chasing my dreams and living the life I want to live.

That is what comforts me.

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Julian is a junior theatre student at Somerset Academy Arts Conservatory. He loves creative writing, coffee, dog walking, and taking trips to beautiful places he has never explored. Julian is very passionate about literature, whether it be novels, plays, or poems. He is very excited for the opportunity to discuss and analyze other people's viewpoints on the world, while also comparing them to his own. Julian also really likes Harry Potter. Like, REALLY likes Harry Potter.