I’m over on The Flawless Project today, writing the scariest thing i have hit “publish” on. Here’s a sample:
Content warning: discussion of OCD, suicidal ideation, mental illness, familial and child death
Author’s Note: This is my story in learning to live with and love my OCD – but this is in NO WAY a universal experience or sentiment. Writing this has been cathartic – and painful – for me, and it’s my hope it will be a connection, a validation, a balm for others. But no one lives with mental health/illness/neuro-atypical-ness the same way. None of what i say here should be essentialized as something all people living with OCD feel. No one should act on my story without consulting a doctor, therapist, or professional.
If you need help, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255.
I was diagnosed with OCD three years ago, in the worst season of my life.
My aunt, uncle, and two cousins died in a plane that failed to make it off the runway; on the other side of the family, my grandmother’s last of a dozen or so strokes took her away two hours before my international flight landed – a flight taken to make my good-byes to her; my parent’s divorce was finalized; my dog of ten years had to be put down; and i had been suicidal for months.
The months before my grandmother dying, the plane, crash, the divorce, the dog dying.
There was a stretch of some three odd weeks where my brothers, my then-fiancé, and i were driving down to Greenville, SC, every couple of days for another funeral. My family was from Greenville, and had been vacationing with another family from Greenville. Two prominent doctor families, one town. So many wanted to honor them, to grieve them; there were so many services – i have glimpses from the Episcopal K-12 school where all the kids had met, the internment at Newberry College, and – the most painful – the Boy Scouts ceremony where they talked about 14-year-old Connor being just one project shy of his Eagle’s badge.
And, hours after one service and days before another, it’s all a humid blur – i stood out under the deck in their backyard, clawing at my nicked-up arms and screaming at my fiancé about an argument we’d had in April.
It was July.
My compulsion to replay things that hurt me – to embellish the story, to ritualize my response, to find release only in self-harm – this compulsion meant i screamed at him for a months-dormant argument under the cover of rain lambasting the deck above us.
I also did this because i was grieving, and grief is a weird thing. It’s painful, it’s heavy, it gnaws – and it’s just unexpectedly strange. It felt better to fight about something i could not stop thinking about, rather than deal with the fact that Meghan would never sit here, under her own deck in her own yard, ever again.
In therapy the next week, we worked more on coping strategies for my compulsions than processing my trauma. Because, frankly, i had to finish one heartbreak before letting myself have another.
I went off birth control for a while; this helped slice off an edge of my anxiety. So did therapy. So did the aforementioned fiancé, who is now my husband. So did my extraordinary pediatrician, who put me on an SSRI and let me continue seeing her well after i was married, because she knew a trigger for an OCD flare-up was going to the doctor and she wanted to ensure i had a safe doctor until i felt my OCD was regulated.
I need you to know this because my OCD and trauma go hand-in-hand. And what i learned about living with OCD i first learned by living with ghosts …
To continue reading, the whole piece is over on The Flawless Project.