A little over a decade ago, I found myself entrenched in an epic battle for my life. I had an eating disorder, a lovely combination of anorexia and bulimia. I didn't eat, and when I did, I purged. Not very pretty, but then, it had nothing at all to do with being pretty.
Anyone with OCD will easily recognize the similarities between an eating disorder and their disorder; the weighing, the measuring, the nightmares about having eaten something forbidden, the guilt, the self-loathing, the loss of everything that once mattered to the fierce grip of the disorder. Looking back, I think that was just one of the many manifestations of my OCD. Some are mild, the type that fly below the radar and register as nothing but quirks. But in the case of the eating disorder that nearly cost me my life, and with my newest manifestation of fear of contamination - which, in some ways, has also almost cost me my life, some are quite blatant and affect those around me. I hate those.
I hate the manifestations of my OCD that affect people around me for two reasons. One, obviously, is that I don't want someone else to suffer the consequences of my disorder. The second is a bit more selfish; I am embarrassed. I don't want people seeing my weakness, my vulnerability.
My eating disorder came on the heels of a very traumatic experience in my life, which is probably beyond the scope of this blog, so I will leave it at that. I needed control, for I had none. Similarly, this new manifestation followed some of the same feelings. I had recently been diagnosed with arthritis, and Lupus was on the table as well (still is). Just two years prior, I had recovered from a very serious and frightening illness which, until more recently, had been my very worst fear come true! For a time, I had tremendous confidence and comfort for how I handled it. But then, as if the OCD (which you will often see me refer to as my Bully) took note of my comfort and wanted to destroy it, the Bully saw these new diagnoses as hot buttons and acted accordingly. Oddly, not about those things, but about contamination. I have a very specific contamination fear of skin diseases.
At the lowest point of my OCD (for heaven's sake, I hope that was rock bottom, because I cannot fathom worse), I was, for all intents and purposes, crippled with fear. I could not touch a shopping cart, found leaving the house more trouble than it was worth, became terrified of any possible source of skin diseases (which, if you think about it, is pretty much everything), and spent most of my time thinking I, and those around me, would be better off if I were dead. I saw no way out. Every relationship in my life was coming apart, I stopped having any contact with my friends, and I still have not seen my dad in more than a year. He mentioned once that he had a skin disease, and he became a source of contamination. How much that pains me is not something the English language has words for. I miss my dad so much that I often cry about the situation.
Determined that, if I could beat anorexia and bulimia, I could beat this (or anything, for that matter), I armed myself with books, workbooks, websites, and anything I could find that would be of use in my fight. A bully lives in my head, rent free, and the idea really pisses me off. What this bully has taken from me grates me even more.
I know I am not alone. I will find my way out of this, and I want so very much to help others do the same. When I searched for OCD blogs, I really didn't find many, so I decided to start my own. If you have an OCD blog that you update on a regular basis, let me know. I would like to add you to my links. Power in numbers, right?
Stay tuned. It's on, and this bully is going down.